With Judge still hurt and Stanton ailing, the Yankees need a new outfielder
The Yankees’ once fearsome, daunting lineup has slowly been deteriorating due to the injury bug. Judge has been out since late-July with a fractured wrist, which is still bothering him, and Stanton has been regulated to only DH’ing due to an ailing hamstring. Judge is still some ways away as he has not been able to swing yet, and Stanton is being used cautiously to avoid any extended missed time. As a result of the Yankees’ plethora of outfielders dealt and these injuries, Aaron Boone has penciled in journeyman Shane Robinson into the Bronx Bombers’ lineup essentially every day. Robinson has started five straight games and ten out of the Yankees’ last fifteen. He’s serviceable on defense and quick, but the bat is almost non-existent. He has a .493 OPS, and the Yankees simply need someone more productive with their division hopes dwindling and the Athletics breathing down their necks for the first Wild Card spot.
The Yankees failed to address this need at the Trade Deadline, which was a huge mistake. Judge’s initial injury timetable was only three weeks, but that was extremely optimistic and assumed everything would go perfectly. More than two weeks have passed, and Judge said he still is not fully healed. Ideally, this would not be too devastating as the Yankees could just plug Stanton into right and DH Neil Walker, who has been the hottest hitter on the team. However, news broke yesterday that Stanton is also dealing with discomfort, but is trying to play through it. This is huge for the Yankees lineup as Stanton has three home runs in his last four games. However, this means the Yankees have very little flexibility in the outfield, where they already lack depth.
Brian Cashman failed to acquire an OF bat prior to the non-waiver deadline, because he believed it was not worth dealing prospects for a player who would play only once a week. Well, Robinson is clearly playing more than once a week, if not every day, and the Yankees are paying the price for not making a move. In Cashman’s defense, he could not have predicted Judge would take longer than expected to heal and that Stanton would have a nagging hamstring, but as a GM of a very competitive club, he had to acquire some sort of insurance. He did this with Lance Lynn and the rotation, and so far, it is turning out to be a brilliant move.
Fortunately for the Yankees, there are better options available, but they have to make a move. Whether that is starting to play Walker in RF, calling up literally anyone from Scranton that has OF experience and can post an OPS+ higher than Robinson’s mark of 32, such as, Tyler Wade, Ryan McBroom, Zack Zehner, or Mark Payton , or picking up a rental off of waivers. It’s not like the Yankees are out of options and are being forced to play Robinson, they simply just keep putting him out there. It is a different case than, let’s say, Luke Voit who at least demonstrated, in the minors, he can potentially be a force in the lineup. Robinson had a .626 OPS before being called up and has a career .587 OPS in 448 games in the majors.
Acquiring another OF via trade or using someone with a better skillset within the organization would not only improve the lineup drastically, but give the Yankees a little more time to nurse Judge back to health and not feel pressured to put Stanton in the outfield when he isn’t feeling 100%. There are plenty of options internally better than Robinson and, knowing Cashman, plenty of opportunities to improve the club externally. If Robinson only had to play sparingly as a reserve outfielder, there would be no issue with his presence on the roster. However, for the time being, Robinson is the starting right fielder for the Yankees, and they have to improve this postition.
Article by: Ryan ThomsFollow @RyanThoms_ Follow @BronxBomberBall