When the Yankees signed Brian McCann to contract worth five years and $85 million, it was expected that he would be an offensive and defensive upgrade over the catchers the team had gone through in recent years, such as 2013 Chris Stewart. Instead, he had a mediocre season at the plate, and even though he hit 23 home runs and hit better as the season progressed, he still ended up having one of the worst seasons of his career. Is it possible that some of his struggles had to do with McCann feeling pressure to live up to his hefty contract?
Well, Kevin Long thinks so. The recently departed hitting coach had a lot to say in a conference call on Wednesday. When he was asked about Curtis Granderson's struggles with the Mets last season, Long said, "I think it's common that the first time you come into an organization after you sign a big contract I think it plays a little more difficult than it might seem." He went on to say that he thought that was true for Granderson. He also compared him to McCann, saying that McCann also struggled in the first year of his new contract, but that he got "better and better and more comfortable." Brendan Kuty of NJ.com thought Long inferred that Granderson struggled because he was trying to live up to his contract, and that the weight of McCann's contract might have had to do with his struggles too.
These sound like two different things to me. First, that McCann might have hit poorly because he was uncomfortable in a new environment, and that as he got more comfortable, he started to play better. After all, McCann had spent the entirety of his career with the Braves, so he had to switch to a new league, new coaches, new teammates. As the catcher, he had to learn the Yankees pitching staff as well. On the other hand, what Kuty is saying sounds more like McCann may have experienced some kind of performance anxiety knowing he had signed a huge contract and trying to meet the expectations that the Yankees had of him. Jacoby Ellsbury also signed a huge contract, and he had no problem playing well. Maybe it was a combination of the two, and that after his slow start, McCann started to feel the pressure to play better, which prevented him from relaxing and getting more comfortable at the plate.
If this is true, then maybe we can count on a much better 2015 season from McCann. Do you think McCann's struggles had to do with pressure to live up to his contract? Or do you think it's more likely that he just needed time to adjust to a new league and new pitchers?