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Pinstripe Q&A: What should the Yankees have done differently?

In the first edition of a new series, we find out what the PSA staff (and you) would have done differently in 2014.

Al Bello

The 2014 New York Yankees weren't exactly what everyone was hoping they'd be. They wound up performing right around where the projections had them, but many were hoping the additions they made in the off-season would help the Yankees get back into the playoffs. But here we are with the playoffs set and the Yankees not in them. While some things that went wrong were out of the Yankees' control, there are things they could've done differently. Some that, at the very least, might've helped get the Yankees a little closer. I thought I'd ask the PSA staff what their suggestions to improve the 2014 Yankees would've been.

Aside from the obvious (ie: Move Derek Jeter down in the lineup, dump Brian Roberts for Rob Refsnyder, win more), what would you have liked the Yankees to do in 2014 that they didn't?

Arun: I assume keep Robinson Cano in the off-season counts as absurdly obvious? I would have liked to have seen the Yankees extend David Robertson by now. The team is running out of homegrown stars, and aside from Brett Gardner, D-Rob is all the Yankees have. Plus it would keep the bullpen as an area of strength even before reinforcements like the Strikeout Factory get to the big-leagues.

Winning in 2014 was always going to be a long-shot with the current roster but it's not going to help the 2015 roster if Robertson is allowed to walk. Even if the qualifying offer will allow the Yankees to mitigate the damage with a draft pick.

Greg: I would have loved for them to announce that they were going to demolish the Mohegan Sun Sports Zone and instead make that entire area a much more beautiful Monument Park. As for what the team could've done to improve? Fire Rob Thomson.

John: I think the Yankees did all they could to win with the talent they had. It didn't work out, and that sucks, and it sucks that they were in a position without more talent, but that's what happens when you spend several years not adding the most expensive, potentially major league ready talent (Puig, Cepedes, Darvish, Abreu, Soler, etc.). What if the Yankees had signed Nelson Cruz instead of Carlos Beltran this off-season? Replace Beltran's 109 games of .233/.301/.402 with Cruz's 157 games of .273/.336/.527, would that have been enough to win the balance in the Yankees five 1-run losses to the Orioles this season? How many more wins might the Yankees have improved on their 27-24 record in 1-run games?

Doug: I would've liked to have seen them acquire a right handed OF with power.

Andrew: They really should have gone into 2014 with a better plan for infield backup than "Kelly Johnson and a cast of characters." With the injury questions surrounding Mark Teixeira's wrist, a better reserve first baseman was needed, and counting on Kelly Johnson to cover third base was a shaky plan, too. They lucked out by having Yangervis Solarte play out of his mind for a couple months, but once that faded, it was pretty ugly until they got Chase Headley.

Shaun: There are a lot of things I would have liked this year's squad to do, but keeping Rob Thomson chained up like Hannibal Lecter would be priority number one. In a year full of frustrations, the base-running ranked among worst offenders. The 2014 Yankee team has had a hard enough time scoring runs, they did not need Thomson helping that effort by getting men thrown out home. The other thing I would have done differently is cut down on the shifting. I have no problem the principle behind it, but the Yankees do it entirely too much and seemingly without much thought beyond handedness. This may be my subjective view, but the team seems to only shift to the pull side, regardless as to whether or not the opposing batter is a pull hitter, or opposite field/up-the-middle hitter. I am also not a fan of shifting when there are men on base, which is something the Yankees have done far too often this year, in my opinion.

Harlan: The Yankees pretty much made their bed this year with their scattershot off-season, so once things got underway there wasn't much they could have done differently. When it was clear the playoffs weren't going to happen though, they could have tried a little harder to get some significant MLB game experience for guys like Jose Pirela and Refsnyder, Tyler Webb, Bryan Mitchell...maybe Ramon Flores. There was no reason for Stephen Drew and Ichiro Suzuki to start 20 and 19 games in September respectively, or for Chris Capuano to get five starts.

Chris: I think the Yankees really shot themselves in the foot this year by not having a legitimate backup first baseman on the roster. Coming off of wrist surgery, Mark Teixeira was an obvious injury risk heading into the year, and unsurprisingly, he ended up missing 39 games with various ailments. Far too much of that missed playing time fell to guys like Kelly Johnson, Brian McCann, and Francisco Cervelli, who were decidedly awful on both sides of the ball. That trio hit a paltry .144/.302/.317 across 153 PA's at 1B, and made some questionable defense as well. The Yankees probably could have added another win or two their ledger simply by carrying a capable 1B on their bench.

Bryan: I believe the Yankees should have of course tried out some of their younger players earlier in the year. Perhaps in August, the Yankees should have brought up some guys if only to simply jump start this team and inject some youth into this team. Joe Girardi reportedly held a team meeting a few days before the season was to end and he sent a message that some players weren't "hungry enough." That speaks volumes and calling up some eager young players might have helped this team in the remaining few months.

Tanya: I thought the Yankees could have given some prospects they might be interested in using next year a shot at the end of the season instead of continuing to play Stephen Drew and the like. It might have been a good chance to see what they have and what they need instead of going into the off-season blind.

Michael: I would have liked to see John Ryan Murphy traded. I think he's at least a MLB-caliber backup as is, and keeping him at AAA for much of the year seems kind of pointless at this juncture. When a deal wasn't made regarding their catching depth in the off-season, I assumed a trade would come about during the season. But the season's over and the team's catching depth remains in a holding pattern.

Matt P.: To be honest, there wasn't much Brian Cashman could have done to make this team better, and he did everything in his power to not have the team look like a total disgrace. If you consider the fact they were outscored via run differential and they made some amazing trade deadline deals, the Opening Day roster was almost a 72-75 win team. The one thing that really bugged me, though, was having Mark Teixeira go solo at first base. He was coming off of major wrist surgery and he had made it clear that he wasn't going to be at full strength, so there was no reason to try to cart him out there. The improvement would have been modest (or even zero-sum or negative), but the Yankees should have gone into Opening Day with a backup option. Even if it was some flurry of minor league signings, that would have been better than hoping Teixeira would be good, because he was not.

Matt F.: Since everyone else has mentioned sensible answers, I thought I'd go for some suggestions that probably wouldn't have helped. But they would've amused you. I think when it started to be clear near the end the season that the Yankees were going to miss the playoffs, they should've experimented more. And not just "play the kids experiment", actually experiment. Send Stephen Drew out to play second base on bath salts. Play a live goat in right field. Have Mark Teixeira play an entire game in a full chicken suit. Other than Derek Jeter, this team wasn't particularly fun to watch down the stretch. A giant, yellow, feathered Tex fighting off a goat for a ground ball that went into short right field while Drew tries to bite both their faces off would've been interesting at the very least.

Now that you've heard our answers, it's your turn. What do you think the Yankees should've done differently in 2014?