MLB Trade Deadline 2013: The Yankees' biggest need

Mike Stobe

There are a lot of holes to fill, but where do the Yankees need offense the most?

The Yankees' offensive futilities have been well-documented throughout the course of the season. A combination of injuries and the front office's inability to go out in the off-season to make upgrades have led to this offensive disaster thus far. Heading into Sunday night's game against the Baltimore Orioles, the Yankees rank 12th in the American League in runs scored (308) and 14th in wRC+ (83). There are several areas of need, and it would behoove the Yankees to fill at least a few of these needs if they want to stick around in the AL East race. Let's take a look at this mess position-by-position...

Catcher: Once Russell Martin signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates last winter it was clear the Yankees were willing to settle with a downgrade at catcher, and that's exactly what they've gotten thus far. Francisco Cervelli hit .269/.377/.500 with a 142 wRC+ in 61 plate appearances before breaking his hand on April 26. This has led to Chris Stewart getting the bulk of the plate appearances and playing time behind the plate. Stewart is currently hitting .257/.320/.338 with an 80 wRC+ in 156 PA's. His backup, Austin Romine, has been much, much worse. The former Baseball America Top 100 prospect has a .145/.159/.194 triple slash line with a -14 wRC+ in 65 more PA's than he should have. In total, Yankee catchers sport a .232/.296/.336 line and a 72 wRC+. Is JR Murphy ready? I'm (half) kidding.

First base: With the Yankees downgrading at catcher, right field, and third base, it was imperative that their first baseman, Mark Teixeira, would help pick up the slack. Instead, he tore the tendon sheath in his right wrist while taking batting practice during the WBC and missed the first 53 games of the season because of it. He came back in June and hit .151/.270/.340 with a 58 wRC+ in 63 PA's before re-aggravating his wrist and ultimately having to have season-ending surgery. In Teixeira's absence, the Bombers turned to Lyle Overbay. Outside of a few big hits early in the season, Overbay hasn't been all that great, hitting .239/.281/.433 with a 90 wRC+ in 249 PA. Now, to be fair to Lyle, he has a solid 113 wRC+ against righties, but a 37 wRC+ against lefties. Trading for a right-handed platoon partner, at the very least, would be swell. On the year, Yankee first baseman are sporting a weak .222/.279/.414 line with an 83 wRC+.

Third base: The Yankees knew going into 2013 they would be without their declining, injury-prone third baseman in Alex Rodriguez for a bulk of the season. So, who did they replace him with? Another declining (even more so than A-Rod), injury-prone third baseman in Kevin Youkilis on a one-year, $12MM deal. Youkilis hit well out of the gate (.424/.500/.727, 38 PA's), cooled off considerably (.097/.176/.097 in his next 34 PA's), and then missed 30 games due to a lumbar spine sprain. He was activated off the DL on May 31 and hit .146/.239/.220 in his final 46 PA's before undergoing microscopic lumbar discectomy surgery two weeks ago. Assuming there won't be any setbacks, Youkilis could be back in late-September, but I'm not counting on it. During Youkilis' absence, the Yankees have gone through a hodgepodge of replacements that include David Adams, Jayson Nix, a little bit of Chris Nelson, and a hint of Alberto Gonzalez. My deepest apologies to those who I may have forgotten. All told, Yankee third baseman have hit .220/.283/.299 with a 58 wRC+. Please hurry back, A-Rod.

Shortstop: The Yankees' regular shortstop and team captain, Derek Jeter, had an abrupt end to his 2012 season, as he broke his ankle during Game One of last year's ALCS. The thought was that he would have surgery and be ready for Opening Day, thus the team wouldn't have to go out to find a replacement. However, that plan backfired, and Jeter re-injured the ankle during Spring Training and has been out since. To replace their captain, the Yankees turned to Eduardo Nunez. Nunez had improved defensively, but couldn't hit a lick (.200/.290/.275, 56 wRC+) before suffering a ribcage injury on May 6. This led the Yankees to depend on Jayson Nix and his noodle bat. The 30-year-old utility infielder masquerading as an everyday shortstop is hitting .240/.306/.306 with a 67 wRC+ in 259 PA's. Yankee shortstops this year, including Reid Brignac, Alberto Gonzalez, and I'm sure someone else I'm forgetting, to go along with Nix and Nunez, are hitting .211/.275/.270 and a 48 wRC+. I want to vomit.

Outfield: Even though the Yankees settled with a downgrade in right field during the off-season (Ichiro over Nick Swisher), the original outfield of Granderson-Gardner-Ichiro wasn't figured to be too bad. However, during his first at-bat of the spring, Curtis Granderson suffered a broken right forearm and was out until May 14. He came back, hit .250/.323/.393 with a 97 wRC+ in 31 PA's before breaking his left pinky, because why the hell not. For some reason, Vernon Wells was brought in during the spring to replace Granderson, and, predictably, he's been awful (.224/.263/.366, 67 wRC+ in 285 PA's) despite a strong April. Even though he's been hot of late, Ichiro hitting .274/.312/.373, 83 wRC+ in 282 PA's isn't very surprising, either. Thankfully, Brett Gardner has been awesome (.290/.348/.456, 118 wRC+ in 341 PA's), while Zoilo Almonte has been impressive so far (.310/.364/.517, 136 wRC+, 33 PA). Mix in some Brennan Boesch, Thomas Neal, and Ben Francisco, Yankee outfielders combine for a .258/.307/.399 line with a 90 wRC+.

It's no secret that the Yankees need bats (plural) in the worst way. The sooner they get these bats, whether it be from players returning from injury or via trade, the better. So, looking at the weak spots on this offense, where do you think they need help the most?

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