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Almonte proving an unusual fit on the current Yankees roster

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on May 22, 2014 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Zoilo AlmonteTonight’s Yankees lineup includes every right-handed hitter and every switch hitter available to Joe Girardi, and on Twitter, the YES Network’s Jack Curry pointed out why: White Sox starter Chris Sale has not allowed a hit to a left-handed batter all season. Sale’s made only four starts, so the sample size isn’t huge, but it’s not out of line with what Sale’s done in the past. Last year, lefties hit just .135 against him.

So that would seem to explain why Zoilo Almonte is in the lineup. It also makes clear why Almonte isn’t a great fit on the current Yankees roster.

What the Yankees could really use is a true right-handed hitter, and in the upper levels of the minor leagues, Almonte has rarely suggested that he’s a viable big league bat from that side of the plate. He’s been a switch hitter by trade, but a left-handed hitter in terms of production.

In Triple-A this year, Almonte was hitting .323/.363/.583 against righties, but just .139/.225/.167 against lefties. In Triple-A last season, he hit .281/.342/.328 from the right side, which was better than this season but still without his left-handed power. In Double-A in 2012, Almonte hit just .213/.254/.352 against lefties.

None of this is to say Almonte can’t be a big league player, only that his proven value comes from the left side, not the right side. And the Yankees have the left side covered.

Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Ichiro Suzuki are already in place as left-handed outfielder, and Kelly Johnson or Yangervis Solarte could play the outfield if necessary. Finding a left-handed hitter to play an outfield corner is not a problem, and unless the Yankees are going to use Almonte as a regular DH (in place of Alfonso Soriano) or play him regularly ahead of Ichiro (who’s been terrific), there just doesn’t seem to be much playing time up for grabs against right-handed pitchers.

But there could be regular at-bats available against lefties, either as an alternative to one of the left-handed outfielders or as a platoon DH. Guys like Adonis Garcia, Scott Sizemore and Zelous Wheeler might not be better overall players than Almonte, but they might be better fits on this current roster. Sizemore could play some infield against lefties if the team felt comfortable playing Solarte in the outfield. Garcia could play either outfield corner or DH. Wheeler’s played a little bit of everything down in Triple-A and hit pretty well.

Almonte can technically hit right-handed, but if that’s where his playing time is going to come, he might not be the best guy for the job.

Just a heads up, we kind of made a late decision to do a chat tomorrow. Should be plenty to talk about heading into the weekend, and we had to scratch plans for a chat on Monday when I had to go into the office for a training lecture. So let’s do a chat on Friday at noon. Hope to see you then.

Associated Press photo

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27 Responses to “Almonte proving an unusual fit on the current Yankees roster”

  1. Hankflorida May 22nd, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    Repost:
    You could argue that Murphy should be ahead of him on current form, but he’s a rookie. We’ve gone from Murderer’s Row to Bambi on Ice.

    Bruce, why is so hard for some Yankee fans not to see that this is not a balanced team when they went from the Bronx Bombers to the Bronx Banjo’s because they are not getting clutch hits to score runs. Granted that the team a few years ago was a one dimensional home run hitting team but they did score over 850 runs and got to the playoffs with not great pitching. Maybe Cashman need two years of scoring less then 700 runs till he sees the error of his ways.

  2. yankeepankee May 22nd, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Sign Justin Maxwell, a righty outfielder with speed, in DFA limbo.
    Sign Wandy Rodriguez, just DFA’d for at least a second lefty in the bullpen. Maybe you get a few starts out of a guy not seen much by A.L. batters. Cashy still has not come up with a lefty reliever out of the farm in what, a decade??

  3. mick May 22nd, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Erik Boland ? @eboland11

    Jeter, for about the 200th time, said before tonight’s game that, no, he isn’t interested in managing after he retires
    ==========================
    Why are they still asking him then?

  4. say NO to Cano May 22nd, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Red Sox lose. A chance to pick up another game on the only real AL East threats.

  5. bigdan22 May 22nd, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    From Chad above:

    “Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Ichiro Suzuki are already in place as left-handed outfielder, and Kelly Johnson or Yangervis Solarte could play the outfield if necessary. Finding a left-handed hitter to play an outfield corner is not a problem, and , , ,”

    ——

    Something is clearly wrong with this analysis. It’s pretty easy. Can anyone see it?

    The missing piece is power. Where’s the power with the allegedly left-handed OFs. There is none. It’s even effectively wrong to call Suzuki a left-handed hitter because he’s basically a singles hitter who hits left-handers better than right-handers. This is part of the problem with Gardner and why I believe trading him would result in a significant strategic advantage. Almonte can help fill the power deficit in the middle of the order that’s even more pronounced now with Beltran gone, probably for at least two months.

    I covered this earlier. The best solution right now is to start Soriano in RF and let Almonte DH against righties. At least you’d get his power bat in there about 70% of the time. But the lack of corner OF power for the Yanks is a long term problem that requires addressing at some point.

  6. say NO to Cano May 22nd, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Almonte can’t help fill anything. He’s a scrap heap average joe. Soriano is a solution? Have we not see that he’s a strikeout machine that wastes at bats repeatedly.

  7. yankeefeminista May 22nd, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Problem is Almonte could have been the LH outfielder, but they decided to sign a bunch of additional lefties instead of looking for a RHH, something we have needed to replace since Alex trended downward, but somehow never did. Bad planning.

  8. yankeefeminista May 22nd, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    a *legit RHH should read

  9. yankeepankee May 22nd, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Hello? Old Danny Boy? Be well.
    That’s why Peter O’Brien is getting reps in right field.
    Tyler Austin is out there too, if he ever discovers his power again.
    That’s why right now I would sign DFA’d Justin Maxwell. Righty power (check his specs). Good D at all 3 spots. Can steal a base off the bench too. Perfect. And they had him before.

  10. bigdan22 May 22nd, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Gene Michael said it years ago. Yankee success is built on left-handed pitching and left-handed power.

    Anybody know of any left-handed pitchers becoming available in the near future?

  11. mick May 22nd, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    the only reason almonte is here is b/c beltran is not

  12. yankeefeminista May 22nd, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    Love a healthy Beltran, but he isn’t here because the age factor kicked in again. Our team construction is always a risk-based one because we carry far too much age.

  13. Chad Jennings May 22nd, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    mick May 22nd, 2014 at 7:12 pm e

    Erik Boland ? @eboland11

    Jeter, for about the 200th time, said before tonight’s game that, no, he isn’t interested in managing after he retires
    ==========================
    Why are they still asking him then?

    First game of Jeter’s final stop at each ballpark, the local media takes a turn. Those guys have no idea he’s said he doesn’t want to manage, so they keep asking. We’re going to get a ton of repeat questions for Jeter this year. Comes with the territory.

  14. Doreen May 22nd, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    Chad -

    You are the best!

  15. mick May 22nd, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    Love a healthy Beltran, but he isn’t here because the age factor kicked in again.
    ======================
    He was going fine, having a typical Beltran year till he ran into and over a fence.
    Could happen to anyone no matter the age.

  16. bigdan22 May 22nd, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    When the offseason first started I didn’t want any part of Beltran, even when everyone else seemed to be clamoring for him. I kept calling him Old Man Beltran (was I a prophet or what?). I wanted Choo. But then when the Yanks lost Cano and signed Ellsbury, I changed my mind and wanted Beltran because I knew the Yanks needed left-handed OF power. I thought Beltran was the best choice then after Cano departed.

    Well Beltran was great for about three weeks. Nice lefty power. But now that’s gone and a gaping hole remains. Almonte is best suited right now to fill that whole if the Yanks use him right. Of course starting him against Sale demonstrates that they have a deep understanding of his value.

    But hey, what do I know?

  17. mick May 22nd, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    Jeter should wear a “No, I will not manage,” tee shirt to St Louis…

  18. Hankflorida May 22nd, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    Bigdan, you are right on with your analysis of the missing piece which is power. The Yankees not finding the holes with RISP bugs me to no end. Teams have won with a low scoring offense since the “Hitless Wonders” White Sox during the Dead Ball Era like the LA Dodgers when they moved to Chavez Ravine but they had Koufax and Drysdale. I can take not hitting homers, but having runners stranded on the base paths because the ball is not seeing green in the outfield is happening most of the time and frustrating to no end. If keeping the line moving is what this team is missing for both now and in the future, then let us go back to the power bats and try to win it with one swing if not this year, then next year.

  19. bigdan22 May 22nd, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    I believe one day Jeter will manage. He’s going to find out when he gets out in the real world that no one’s going to kiss his butt like they do in this little rarefied world of baseball. You see, to real business people, he’s just a jock. They’ll love having him around to tell stories, but they won’t let him run anything. He can buy a bunch of car dealerships and be a strip mall mogul like Arod but do you think Jeter would be satisfied with that? Jeter thinks he wants to own a baseball team but he doesn’t have the money to be anything more than a mascot for major league purchase group.

    It may take 10 years or so but Jeter will likely come around to the knowledge that he only walks on water on the ball field. And after he realizes that, I think he’ll become a damn fine manager.

  20. bigdan22 May 22nd, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    My take was not original Hank. You’ve been saying this for as long as I’ve known you.

  21. mick May 22nd, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    Jeter can sign autographs the rest of his life and make more money than anyone here.

  22. pete22 May 22nd, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    IIRCC only 1 team won the World Series hitting less than 160 HR in season. I expect the Yankees will hit 170 HR this year, and indeed are on pace to do so.

    Problem is hitting with ROB. Most of thse HR are coming at home and with the bases empty, although we have seen a 3 R and grandslam in the past couple of weeks. Part of that is a sub-optimal batting order.

    There are players under performing, Ellsbury, Soriano, McCann and Beltran . Excepting Beltran, expectations are that the other 3 will hit better. This offense can score 800 runs IMO

    This is not to say the offense can not be improved, with a more optimized lineup and upgrading at 2B and SS (backup who can hit).

    Alas, with Drew off the market and Morales soon to go to the Rangers, its going to be hard to improve offensively. That leaves pitching to be improved. The recent stretch of weak competition has masked some of the pitching issues, but it will be more noticeable when they face better teams. I guess they will just pray CC and Pineda can return, and that Banuelos will help in the 2nd half. Drew and Morales would have provided them with more trade chips for pitching, but that ship has sailed.

  23. blake May 22nd, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Beltran was good until he got hurt …..

  24. mick May 22nd, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    The better question might be will he general manage.
    He’s already said he wants to be an owner.

  25. pete22 May 22nd, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    bigdan22 May 22nd, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    I believe one day Jeter will manage. He’s going to find out when he gets out in the real world that no one’s going to kiss his butt like they do in this little rarefied world of baseball. You see, to real business people, he’s just a jock.
    =======================

    Guys with a net worth of 300 million get a lot of respect. As a businessman, Jeter will learn to hire real business people to help him.

    I don’t think Jeter would want to work for a measly 3-5 million a year. Not sure he would be a great manager anyways

  26. pete22 May 22nd, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    blake May 22nd, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Beltran was good until he got hurt …..
    ===================

    They insist he was not hurt though, and now he is, so the odds he does much the rest of the year are not high

  27. bigdan22 May 22nd, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Guys with a net worth of 300 million get a lot of respect. As a businessman, Jeter will learn to hire real business people to help him

    —-

    Jeter’s net worth is estimated to be $185MM. As far as hiring real business people to help him, help him do what exactly?

    Prospective salary is irrelevant to Jeter for the rest of his life. He’d work a dollar a year like Jobs did if he was doing what he wanted.

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