As Part I of the regular season closed for the New York Yankees on Sunday afternoon with a disappointing 8-3 loss to the lowly Minnesota Twins, it would be a great time to look back on what has occurred prior to the All-Star Break. The team has had to deal with a laundry list of injuries to key players, including Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, and Mark Teixeira (out for the season). As a result, the Yankees find themselves in the eerily unfamiliar position of being in the bottom half of baseball in almost every major offensive category as well as out of a playoff spot if the season were to end today.
They simply have not found a way to make up for the production the aforementioned players could have brought to the table. It also appears that they dearly miss the invaluable contributions that free-agent departures such as Raúl Ibañez, Eric Chavez, and Russell Martin made last year. In fact, each of them is doing pretty well for the teams that they signed on with this season.
Ibañez is beloved by Yankees fans for his late-inning heroics last year in the postseason, where he hit two game-tying home runs and one walk-off home run. His 2012 regular season was not too shabby either with 19 dingers and 62 RBI. In his second stop with the Seattle Mariners, the 41-year-old is having a renaissance season. With 24 home runs and 56 RBI before the All-Star Break, Ibañez was practically snubbed from the American League All-Star team. It seems that no matter how old he gets, he will always have the ability to turn around any fastball and put any mistake pitch in the seats in any ballpark.
With Rodriguez only able to play in 99 games for the Yankees in 2012 due to array of injuries, Chavez got a lot of playing time in his stead at third. The six-time gold glove award winner held his own offensively, hitting .281 with 16 home runs and 37 RBI. In another part-time role with the Arizona Diamondbacks this season, Chavez has taken advantage of his opportunities, hitting .303 with seven home runs and 29 RBI in 46 games played. That is certainly better than the combined .185 Luis Cruz, David Adams, and Eduardo Núñez have provided at third base this season.
Martin did a terrific job as the everyday catcher for the Yankees for two years, as he had a great rapport with the pitchers and made solid contributions offensively. He never hit above .240, but he did hit at least 18 in both seasons in the Bronx. Now he’s not on pace to do that again this season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but his eight home runs and 34 RBI thus far are Ruthian compared to the numbers that Chris Stewart is putting up at the plate for the Yankees (three home runs, 14 RBI). Martin even has a couple walk-off hits to boot as he is aiding a Pirates team that seems like it will achieve its first winning season in 20 years.
In Ibañez, Chavez, and Martin, the Yankees lost a combined 56 home runs from last season. Each of those guys are now making significant contributions to their new teams. In the second part of the season, the Yankees need to find a way to replicate their production, either from guys returning from the disabled list or via a trade for a bat. If not, they will not make the playoffs in 2013.