Well, here we are a month into the new baseball season and time to begin our run of monthly surveys of the New York Yankees. We will be taking a slightly different approach this season. Anyway here goes with the batters and their performance in April:
|New York Yankees – Batting – Month – April|
|Murphy, John Ryan||6||13||1||4||3||0||0||1||0||2||0||0||0||.308||.538||.308||1|
The Yankees used four catchers in April with a serious injury to Francisco Cervelli being the complication which caused the changes in the roster. Cervelli went to the disabled list on the 15th of April after beginning the season at an exceptionally slow pace. He had a buoyant Spring Training but was unable to reproduce this during the first week of the season and headed for the 60-day list with a right hamstring strain. Cervelli was to have been the back-up for Brian McCann. McCann also got off to a slow start at the plate batting .224 although he did contribute 3 home runs. Defensively, McCann has been a significant upgrade on the players that the Yankees had at this position in 2013 but he needs to hit safely more often if he is to pay back the New York team’s major investment. The Yankees called up Austin Romine on April 5th but this was as much for general infield cover as for use as a catcher as it coincided with first baseman Teixeira being unavailable. Romine’s only appearance came as a late innings substitute on the 8th in the game against Baltimore. He returned to Scranton (Triple-A) the following day. Significantly, when the Yankees learned that Cervelli was to be out for two months or more, then it wasn’t Romine they called upon but John Ryan Murphy who has moved ahead of Romine in the eyes of the organisation. Murphy has combined useful hitting performances with good defensive work and really looks like he has a long term future in the majors. He batted .308 with one home run in April.
The Yankees infield plans were complicated before the season started by the injury to Brendan Ryan (upper back injury) who was placed on the 15-day disabled list and actually missed all the first month. Dean Anna, a career minor leaguer, was retained on the opening day roster to cover for his absence and Yangervis Solarte, another long-term minor leaguer, also won a place amongst the chosen 25. The situation was further muddied when only 5 days into the season, Mark Teixeira headed to the disabled list with a right hamstring strain. With Brian Roberts (2b) also struggling for fitness, the Yankees had to rely on the ability of those who were still around to fill in at multiple positions – and for most of the time they have done so exceedingly well. In the first half of the month, Solarte particularly was hot at the plate and helped the fans to forget those who were absent. Scott Sizemore was called up from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and added to the mix and did well too. His stint was a short one but his .308 average with two extra-base hits makes him an interesting option for the future. Teixeira returned to the line-up exactly 15 days after his being laid aside and has been an asset hitting no homers before his injury but managing three in the remainder of April after his return. Kelly Johnson was principally a first-baseman while Teixeira was out but has returned to third-base duties since he came back. Like Solarte, his batting performance has cooled in the second half of the month. This is preferable to Roberts and Anna who never really got started. Roberts needs to work on his swing and his timing whilst Anna has returned to Triple-A and will presumably be considered along with Sizemore should a further farmhand be required. Finally, we must turn to Derek Jeter. It must be said that the Captain has been solid but unremarkable in the first month of the season. It was predicted that he would spend time at DH but this simply hasn’t happened because his power stroke is noticeably absent. Whilst he is batting around the .270 mark, this is almost entirely made up of singles with only 3 doubles as he too struggles to find his timing at the plate.
Outfielders and Designated Hitters
The Yankees have been able to rely on a group of 5 for outfield and DH duties with no injuries to mention in this part of the line-up. Jacoby Ellsbury has probably been the pick of the bunch but others are not too far behind with each delivering what was required of them. Ellsbury has ten extra base hits, tied for second on the team with Alfonso Soriano and Solarte and only exceeded by Carlos Beltran. Beltran has fourteen and leads the team in slugging percentage but his ability to get on base with a well-placed single has been a little up-and-down. Beltran has five homers, Soriano is second with four. Ichiro Suzuki has been a revelation in his role as the fifth man. Relieved of the pressure of needing to play every day, he has become more like the canny singles hitter he was with Seattle, hitting .357 with thirteen singles in the first month. Brett Gardner, who has played at both left-field and centre-field, is also doing a solid job. He is second in stolen bases with 7 (one behind Ellsbury) and is hitting well.