Here’s a stat that is sobering for any New York Yankees fan: the Yankees have one home run from a right-handed batter since May 23. One.
That’s two months worth of baseball, and Jayson Nix is the only righty to homer. Simply incredible.
That is why the trade for Alfonso Soriano makes sense for a Yankees team that is hanging around in the playoff chase. No, despite their improbable rash of injuries, that Yankees aren’t out of the playoff race just yet. What they desperately needed though, was a right-handed bat with some pop.
Now, I’m not saying Soriano is going to magically vault the Yankees into October. His skills are diminished and he’s nowhere near the player he was when he left New York in 2004 as a part of the Alex Rodriguez trade. However, he’s hit 17 home runs this year, which would put him second on the Yankees behind only Robinson Cano.
Speaking of Cano, there’s a reason he leads all of MLB in intentional walks. He’s the only viable long-ball threat in the lineup. With the addition of Soriano (and soon, Curtis Granderson), Cano will have a little protection in a lineup that had looked more like a Triple-A squad than a major league one for the last two months.
Teams won’t necessarily be scared of Soriano (he still strikes out way too much), but he’ll at least make managers think about what to do late in ball games. Currently, teams are able to pitch around Cano because there’s no one else in the lineup that has any pop, particularly right-handers.
The best part of the Soriano trade is that Chicago Cubs are paying the majority of his salary for the next year and a half. In 2014, reports indicate the Yankees will only have to pay Soriano $5 million out of his $18 million salary. If he turns out to be nothing more than a designated hitter against left-handed pitching, the Yankees aren’t on the hook for much.
With the trade deadline approaching, the Yankees had to make a decision. Would they make a few deals to improve a team that needs help offensively? Or would they stand pat, spend over $200 million and fail to reach the postseason?
The Soriano deal shows they are going to be buyers at the deadline, something most Yankees fans assumed anyway. It won’t be the last deal the Yankees make, but it could be the most important if for nothing other than public perception.