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Friday, February 18, 2011

A look at the Yankees by position: Outfield

In my second part of my five part series I will look at the Yankees outfield and potential outfield players. Like last edition I broke down everyone from lock starter to guys possibly not even getting a job, I will do the same with this edition. This time i'll look at the outfielders from sure starters like Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson, to more of minor league guys like Greg Golson and Colin Curtis.

RF. Nick Swisher: In July of the 2010 season the Yankees were in Seattle to play the Mariners. It was a Friday afternoon in downtown Seattle and I got a chance to meet the Yankee All-Star, and Home Run Derby contestant. He was very nice and I was fortunate enough to take a picture of him. Believe it or not on that day when he was about to leave I told him "hey get a homer off of King Felix tonight!" He kinda chuckled and said OK and walked off. And dog gone it he hit a homer of the AL Cy Young Award winner, and my favorite pitcher. But enough of my story. Nick Swisher had a bounceback year last year raising his average from 2009 from .249 to a career high .288 in 2010. He also matched his homerun total from '09 with 29 dingers in '10. And he also added seven RBI from 2009, 82 to 89. The thing with Swisher is he has had low points in his career. He batted .219 in 2008 with the Chicago White Sox. And his previous career high batting average was .262 in 2007, his final year with the Oakland A's. But the alarming statistic for Swisher is how he does in the postseaon. In his five individual series he has played with the Yankees he's had a batting average .150 or below in four of those. The one series where he had a batting average above that mark was in last years Divisional series against the Minnesota Twins. He had a .333 average while hitting one solo homerun. Swisher also had an OPS of 1.135 in that series. But in the ALCS that year against the Texas Rangers he batted just .091 with one solo homerun. He also struck out seven times in the six game set while having an OPS of just .473. The question for Swisher is can he be more of a consistant guy who can carry his regular season numbers into the postseason? This is a big year for Swisher and could be his last. If he has another poor postseason, assuming the Yankees make it, he could be on his way out.

CF. Curtis Granderson: "The Grandy Man" had a rough first season for the Yankees. He batted just .247 in his first year in pinstripes and he struck out 116 times in 136 games. Also Granderson had to prove that he could hit left handed pitching. Grandy batted .237 last year in the regular season against left handed pitching. Thats an improvement of the 2009 season where he batted just .183 against lefties and he hit only two HRs. Granderson missed time in the middle of the season due to a groin injury, which obviously didn't help with his baserunning ability, as he stole just 12 bases. But in the middle of the year when Granderson was really slumping he worked with hitting coach Kevin Long. Granderson had a bit of a helicopter type of swing. He'd always let go of his top hand after he finishes his swing and he doesn't have much of an uppercut on his swing. So, Long made him hold onto his top hand through his swing. They started this in late July into early August and the results showed. Granderson hit 14 of his 24 homeruns in August and September. Also, in the postseason Granderson shined by batting .357 against the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS and the Texas Rangers in the ALCS. He hit one homerun and drove in seven. Granderson also had a good eye of the strikezone in October as he drew seven walks. Thats a good sign going into the season because I believe when right Granderson should be at the number two spot in the order hitting infront of Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Robinson Cano. The question for Granderson is; will he be able to carry his August/September/October momentum into this season? He'll be a key part in the Yankees offense. And if he plays to the best of his capabilities he can be a five-tool type of guy. I expect him to have a 30-30 season, raise that average above .275, and contend for a Gold Glove.

LF. Brett Gardner: Out of every Yankee on this team Brett Gardner confuses me the most. He is able to slap the ball pretty much wherever he wants to, mostly left field, and he has killer speed. He's probably the fastest player in the game. He can spark a rally at any moment of the game, see ALCS game one. But hes a .270ish hitter. I don't get that. Also in the postseason he has struggled. Gardner batted .175 in the span of five postseason series in two years. An alarming stat for Gardner is in 40 at bats he has struck out 12 times, definantely something you arn't so excited about since Gardner is not a power hitter. Also, Brett Gardner has had to miss time with injury the last two years. He's had trouble with thumb and wrist issues so that could play a roll into him have not so steller seasons. The question with Gardner is can he stay healthy and improve so he can be a .300 hitter? He'll also need to improve in the postseason because, like Swisher, he could be on his way out.

OF. Andruw Jones: Ah remember the days when Andruw Jones was with the Atlanta Braves? Where in a 10 year stretch from 1998-2007 he averaged nearly 35 homeruns, and 103 RBI's, he also won 10 Gold Gloves, one Silver Slugger, and was elected to five All Star Games. But in 2008-2010 he had fallen completely off the map averaging just 13 HR's, including just three in 2008 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He also averaged just 35 RBI's in that stretch, including a whopping 14 in that '08 season in LA. Andruw Jones is at best a fourth outfielder, and thats what the Yankees got him for. If right he can be a nice power bat off the bench. He had a decent season last year with the Chicago White Sox where he had 19 homers and drove in 48 in just 278 at bats. So he has proven that he can hit off the bench in the American Leauge is what he'll have to do with the Yankees. So the question is, can he? He should be used to, doing this of late.(He did the same with the 2009 Texas Rangers hitting 17 HR's and driving in 43 in just 281 at bats.) He could be like a Marcus Thames like of guy except Jones can play in every outfield postition and can play it well.

OF. Greg Golson: Golson will be remembered most for his game ending outfield assist of Carl Crawford, of the Tampa Bay Rays on September 14th. Other then that no one would really remember him. Hes a good defensive outfielder with good speed and a rocket arm. In limited action with the Yankees he hit .261 in 23 at bats, but he went 0-2 in stolen base chances. The question really for him is; can he make the team? Its unlikely with Andruw Jones having a huge advantage over Golson as being the teams fourth outfielder.

OF. Colin Curtis: Like Greg Golson, Colin Curtis will be remembered for pretty much just one moment. On July 21st against the LA Angels Curtis hit a pinch hit three run homerun to spark the Yankees to a 10-6 win that afternoon. The impressive thing is he was pinch hitting for a previously ejected Brett Gardner who left with an 0-2 count. Other then that Curtis is just a .186 hitter with 59 career big league at bats. He's probably down on the pecking order behind Andruw Jones and Greg Golson as the teams fourth outfielder.

There you have it. Those are the Yankees outfielders from the guys who are a lock to make the majors to guys who have a slim chance to make it. Part three will be the catchers. Should be interesting. Stay tuned!

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