The MLB rumors will soon be hovering around the New York Yankees as the 2012 season winds down and the Yankees find themselves in a 2-0 hole against the Detroit Tigers. The Yankees offense has been inept this postseason and the only reason the Yankees advanced to the ALCS was because the Baltimore Orioles were just that much more anemic.
The Yankees need to do something for next year to revitalize an offense that has literally disappeared in the playoffs. Curtis Granderson has struck out in almost fifty percent of his at-bats, 14 times in 29 plate appearances. Actually, it is 48.3 percent, but who is counting?
Robinson Cano set an MLB record by going 0 for his last 26. That’s right, Cano has not had a hit since the first inning of Game 2 of the ALDS. Nick Swisher, Alex Rodriguez, Eric Chavez Granderson and Cano are a combined 11-112 in the playoffs. That just isn’t going to cut it.
It might be too late for Joe Girardi to do anything that can shake up an offense that has not performed all year with runners in scoring position. However, it isn’t too early to start thinking about what the Yankees can do for next year and how they can turn things around in the future.
With the contracts the Yankees have, it isn’t likely any drastic changes will be made, but there is one that I think the Yankees should make and that is to fire Kevin Long.
Long is regarded as one of the best hitting coaches in the game, but this year the Yankees were inept at hitting with runners in scoring position, finishing the year 17th in MLB with a .256 average. Amazingly, the Yankees drove in 515 runs despite that batting average, which was good for seventh in baseball.
However, where Long has gone wrong is in the players themselves. Long has turned Granderson into a home run threat who is able to hit lefties and righties now. Sure, Granderson led the team with 43 home runs and 106 RBI, but his batting average slipped to .232, exactly 30 points lower than it was in 2011 and 30 points below his career average.
While Granderson might have become a home run threat, he has also regressed as an overall hitter and his propensity for striking out is beginning to become alarming as he set a career high with 195 strikeouts.
Mark Teixiera is another prime example of why Long is failing as a hitting coach. Teixeira was a .300 hitter before putting on a Yankee uniform. In his first season with the team, he did hit .292 in 2009. Then hit .256 in 2010, .248 in 2011 and hit only .251 this year. Clearly something is wrong. Blame it on the shift if you want, but Teixeira is a professional hitter. He should be able to beat the shift when needed. If not, he should be practicing hitting the ball to left field when teams put the shift on him.
The Yankees have said Teixeira is what he is, a pull hitter. That is not good enough. Did they say Granderson is what he is, a guy who can’t hit lefties, or did they work with him to learn to hit them so he could become an everyday player? If an opposing team leaves an entire side of the field open, you have to learn to take advantage of it. A base hit to the third base side would be a double for Teixeira and would force teams to stop overplaying him to the right side, opening a world of possibilities.
All it would take is a couple of balls slapped the other way and opposing teams would have to start to guard against it. To just shrug your shoulders and say that isn’t who Teixeira is not acceptable. A professional ballplayer should be able to adjust as the situation calls for it.
Personally, I think Long gets way too much credit for the work that is actually performed. Let’s not forget he is working with a team that has Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Ichiro Suzuki and even guys like Brett Gardner and Russell Martin. There is talent and experience all over the place and there is no reason to see a hitter defeated by a shift in the defense.
It is time for the Yankees to bring in a hitting coach who will work with hitters to take advantage of all situations. We already know there is enough power in the lineup as they set a team record for home runs this year. Just imagine how many runs the Yankees could have scored if a few more players adapted to the situations presented to them.