Brian Cashman's comments today about potential changes today were a long time coming. “We’re just trying to move this thing along," Cashman told Donnie Collins of the Scranton Times-Tribune. “If there are guys struggling in New York, I can’t wait.”
The Yankees have been unbearable to watch lately, as they have averaged 2.67 runs per game over their last 12 games and haven't scored over four runs since May 28th. Yesterday's 1-for-17 showing with RISP was the tip of the iceberg. Somebody needed to put them on notice, and Cashman did just that.
Most have speculated that Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson and Alfonso Soriano could all be in danger of losing their roster spots, and that may be true. Mike wrote here earlier today about Jose Pirela or Rob Refsnyder taking Roberts' job.
Pierla or Refsnyder taking over second base makes sense-- and anybody should be an upgrade over Roberts-- who is hitting .239/.317/.350 and playing terrible defense. Going with a younger player could add some spice to the team and strengthen the bottom of the lineup, but the Yankees won't go anywhere without Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann doing what they were bought here to do.
The Yankees have gotten success out of farm guys like Adam Warren, Dellin Betances, Yangervis Solarate and Chase Whitley so far this season. Those guys have been some of the few positives so far, yet the Yankees at 31-31 because of a lack of production from their veterans.
The thinking in signing McCann and Beltran and letting Robinson Cano go was that they would be able to make up for his loss and the present, and the Yankees wouldn't be stuck with Cano's contract later on. So far it looks like the Yankees made the wrong choice.
McCann seemed like a safe signing, which makes his struggles very odd. He has been awesome behind the plate with his pitch framing, throwing runners out and working the pitchers through games, but he simply needs to hit better.
McCann is hitting just .225/.282/.365 with a .288 wOBA and a 77 wRC+. His 22.5 percent line drive rate and his .232 BABIP don't add up, so luck hasn't been with McCann. However, he hasn't been doing things he can control like hitting the ball over the fence and walking.
The patience at the plate hasn't been there this year, as McCann only has a 6.0 percent walk rate, which is down by over three percent from his career average. Also, McCann hasn't hit a home run since May 23rd and has only seven on the season.
Meanwhile, Beltran is 1-for-15 since his return from the DL and hasn't looked good since his great beginning to the season. Nobody really knows how healthy his elbow is, but the Yankees desperately need his bat. He is hitting .218/.271.401 with a .289 wOBA and a 78 wRC+ on the season.
The Yankees offense has been so futile because of their lack of power. Sure, their hitting with RISP has been a problem, but they always used to be able to overcome that because of their power. The Yankees are tied for 20th in MLB with 51 home runs in large part because Beltran and McCann have only provided 12.
The Yankees right now are a perfect example of why more and more people are valuing new age stats like wOBA and wRC+ that value hits better over batting average.
They are 12th in MLB in batting average and seem to get a decent amount of hits every night. However, they are mostly singles and it takes multiple hits strung together to score runs. This makes it really hard to have big innings. This is why it was silly when fans used to complain about the Yankees hitting too many homers from 2010-2012. Those were really good offenses, and the last two years have been far from those years.
Despite all of this, the Yankees are still right in the thick of the wild card race due to Bud Selig's ideas to make the vast majority of MLB mediocre. They can still make something of this season, but are going to need Beltran and McCann to do it, even if Cashman decides to make changes at the bottom of the roster.