The New York Yankees demotion of Yangervis Solarte to their triple-A affiliate, the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, may have served two important purposes. One purpose, of course, being to give the rookie infielder, who has looked overwhelmed at the plate during the last month, a chance to make adjustments to his game in a less intense setting. But, the demotion may also serve the purpose of sending a message to some of the Yankees’ other slumping sluggers that the team’s current rate of offensive production will not be allowed to continue without serious consequences.
Perhaps this move of sending down Solarte, who was one of the team’s best hitters during April and May, will serve as a wake-up call for players like Alfonso Soriano and Kelly Johnson. This move could signal that the team will only allow Soriano and Johnson to struggle for so long before they look to get rid of them, and replace them via trade or call-up.
Maybe a move like this will put Carlos Beltran on alert, who is hitting just .220 and has a slugging percentage of only .404 so far this season. It might make him realize that he needs to prove he can be a productive hitter while dealing with an ailing right elbow, or be shut down to address the injury. In many ways it is admirable that he is trying to play through the pain. But if he continues to hit like this, he is very much a detriment to the team.
Brian McCann, another big Yankees offseason signing, has also found himself off to a disappointing start. He is batting just .223 with only 18 extra base hits in his first 269 at-bats. While his contract will make him just about impossible to move, he could still see at-bats taken away from him. Backup catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has proven to be a capable hitter at times during his career, may begin to get more starts behind home plate if McCann cannot turn things around soon.
This message may even extend to the team captain. Derek Jeter has been putting up numbers this season that resemble those more of an eight or nine hitter in a lineup, rather than a No. 2 hitter. The 40-year-old shortstop needs to find a way to be more productive, or face reality and allow manager Joe Girardi the option of batting him lower in the lineup.
Another person who should take notice of the Solarte demotion is hitting coach Kevin Long. Is it necessarily his fault that the league seemingly has caught up with the 26-year-old journeyman? No, but he can certainly be blamed for his offense being 20th in the majors in runs scored. Long may have to make some major adjustments to the way he coaches or he could eventually be shown the door.
The Yankees seem to be beginning to grow tired of waiting for their All-Stars of years past to begin hitting to the back of their baseball cards. While Brian Cashman and Girardi want to be careful not to disrespect the established group of veteran players on the team, winning must remain the first priority. And if the team continues its losing ways much longer, then tough decisions will have to be made if they want to have any chance of fulfilling their ultimate purpose, winning a championship.