There are a lot of people who can be blamed for the New York Yankees‘ offensive struggles this season. There is of course the team’s highly-paid middle-of-the-order bats such as Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano, who have struggled to be run producers for the club so far this year. There is also the team’s GM Brian Cashman, who can be blamed for not having anyone at all in the farm system to push some of the team’s struggling stars.
But, perhaps the person who should take a great deal of the responsibility, and who often gets a pass because of his past successes with the team, is the Yankees’ hitting coach Kevin Long.
The Yankees rank 20th in runs scored this season and 22nd in the majors in home runs. None of the team’s regulars are hitting over .290, and Mark Teixeira is the only Yankee player with more than 10 home runs. This comes after the team spent large amounts of money over the offseason to reload their lineup with the likes of Jacoby Ellsbury, McCann, Beltran, Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson. So far, the results have been extremely disappointing.
Considering the amount of money the team spent on their offense this season, it is amazing there has not even been a whisper about Long losing his job. If George Steinbrenner were still around, you know his job would be in danger.
The fact of the matter is that Long’s philosophies that were once effective with previous Yankee lineups just are not working anymore. Under Long’s tutelage, it is clear that many of the team’s players are guilty of trying to do too much at the plate, and fail time after time in critical situations.
Yankee hitters batting from the left side such as Teixeira, Yangervis Solarte, McCann, and Johnson appear to be trying to pull the ball over the Yankee Stadium short porch in right field nearly every at-bat in their home ballpark. But, instead they often find themselves giving away easy outs when they line or ground balls right into perfectly designed shifts on the right side of the field.
Even worse is that when they swing for the fences, they often find themselves striking out, and in the process making unproductive outs.
McCann, a .274 career hitter, has come here and hit just .224 in his first 76 games as a Yankee. Teixeira has gradually become more and more of a one-dimensional player under Long since first coming here in 2009. The same can be said for former Bronx Bomber Curtis Granderson, who is now a shell of the player he used to be when he first came to New York.
Long has failed in getting any production out of bottom-of-the-order types like Roberts, Johnson and Solarte. He also has not been able to help turn around Soriano, who has looked completely lost at the plate this year after driving in 101 runs last season.
It would be one thing if just a few players were underachieving in the Yankees lineup, but the fact is that everyone outside of Brett Gardner, Ellsbury, and maybe Teixeira has been a disappointment. Granted injuries have played a role in the lack of production this season, but they should not have this much of an effect. The regulars, while dinged up a bit, have been available to play in recent weeks, and the results have not gotten any better.
So should the Yankees fire Long? Maybe not just yet. But if the team finds themselves hovering around .500 come the All-Star break, then it might be time to give this team a wake-up call. Letting go of Kevin Long would certainly qualify as one.