Now that the season is winding down, and the playoffs are slipping further and further out of reach, it's hard not to wonder what the team could have done differently to put themselves in a better position. Should they have re-signed any of the players that they let walk over the offseason?
The first player that comes to mind is obviously Robinson Cano. There is no doubt that the team would be better with him on it. Although his power numbers are down this season, he's been leaps and bounds better than the players the Yankees replaced him with. He's batting .319/.386/.458 with 137 wRC+. He's also been worth 5.2 WAR despite hitting just 12 home runs so far. Comparing him to Brian Roberts and Stephen Drew is just sad. Before being designated for assignment, Roberts hit .237/.300/.360 with 83 wRC+. At the time, it seemed like no one could possibly be worse than him, then Drew came along. As a Yankee, Drew is hitting an abysmal .133/.223/.265. Yes, Cano signed for $240 million, and yes the contract is a ridiculously long, 10 years, but second base has been a train wreck without him. Maybe the high level of play the first few years would have made up for the long contract? Just imagine how much his bat would have helped the offense. Guess we'll see how it works out for Seattle, and hope that the second base situation works out better next season.
In terms of the outfield, it appears that the Yankees would not have been better off if they had kept Curtis Granderson. With the Mets this season, he's batting .212/.314/.362 with 17 home runs and 97 wRC+. Carlos Beltran has been roughly the same, hitting .237/.303/.412 with 15 home runs and matching Granderson's 97 wRC+. The main difference is that Granderson has a positive WAR (0.6) compared to Beltran's -0.2. Grandy could have helped in terms of defense, but probably not enough to make that big of a difference. There's also no question that Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury have been the two most consistent hitters on the team.
The Yankees also let Chris Stewart and Jayson Nix walk over the offseason, and both were good decisions. How Nix even has a job at this point is laughable. His wRC+ is -1 and he's been worth -0.9 WAR. He's also managed to play for three different teams this year. Sorry Nix, we don't miss you. Meanwhile, since resuming the backup catcher's role, Stewart is having a much better season (.282/.361/.308), but a healthy Francisco Cervelli is still a better player.
Interestingly, both Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain have pitched much better during their first season away from the Yankees. Hughes has a 3.55 ERA, compared to the 4s and 5s he put up during the last four seasons. Furthermore, he has a 5.5 WAR, when his career high was previously 2.5 in 2010. He has greatly reduced the number of walks he's allowed, and his 0.67 HR/9 is the lowest of his career. With that being said, it's hard to tell how much of this is due to the change of scenery. After several bad seasons in a row, it was time for him to go. Even with all the injuries to the rotation, pitching really hasn't been the Yankees problem this season anyway. Chamberlain has had his best season in a few years, as well, with a 3.42 ERA, 8.62 K/9 and 0.49 HR/9. Still, the bullpen isn't the reason the Yankees are losing, and like Hughes, Joba had struggled for a few seasons. As for the Yankees' former LOOGY, Boone Logan has spent a good portion of the season on and off of the DL with left elbow inflammation, which has probably contributed to bad numbers. Through 25 innings, he put up a 6.84 ERA, 5.13 FIP, 2.86 xFIP, with 2.16 HR/9 before finally being placed on the 60-day DL where he will finish the season.
When it comes down to it, the only loss that feels like it has negatively impacted the team has been that of Cano. After seeing what second base looks like with Roberts and Drew, do you still think the Yankees made the right decision in not bringing him back? Do you think Hughes and Chamberlain could have put up the same numbers with the Yankees this season if they had stayed in the Bronx?