Thursday, September 19, 2013

Should the Yankees keep Brendan Ryan at SS for 2014?

As Yankee followers have noticed, former Mariners and Cardinals shortstop Brendan Ryan has taken over the everyday duties for the Yankees after his acquisition a few weeks back. Ryan is known as a defensive wizard, with an elite glove and exceptional range. Yet, Ryan has not hit since his first full season with the Cardinals in 2009, when he hit .292. He has then posted batting averages of anywhere between .196 and .248.

Shortstop Derek Jeter, the Yankees SS since 1996, has been criticized for his shortcomings defensively, but that argument is another blog post at another time. Anyway, with Jeter entering his 40th year as a human being in 2014 and his impending potential free agency and/or retirement, the Yankees need to consider a full-time replacement and making Jeter the designated hitter. After all, Jeter showed in 2012 he can still be an offensive force, but his ankle injury and loss of nearly all of 2013 shows he should not be in the field any longer. The question is: should the Yankees keep Brendan Ryan, an impending free agent or go after other free agent SS such as Jhonny Peralta or Stephen Drew? Let's examine:

If the Yankees retain Brendan Ryan, they have to do another round of moves to compensate. To keep a hitter of Ryan's ineptitude in the lineup to make up for his defensive capabilities, the rest of the lineup has to be well above average. This means a healthy Gardner and Teixeira, a non-suspended A-Rod, a re-signed Robinson Cano, a productive Alfonso Soriano and a new RF, C and DH. Only then can you be happy with Brendan Ryan hitting 9th. If the Yankees are gonna skimp by just keeping Zoilo Almonte, Ichiro, Vern, Murphy/Romine/StewVelli and not get legitimate upgrades, then they need to over after an offensively capable SS in Stephen Drew, who has finally stayed healthy and put up numbers resembling his Arizona D-Back days or Jhonny Peralta, coming off a suspension, but with the better track record of health and offensive production and the capability to play 3B too if A-Rod is suspended.

But, if you have watched the Yankees telecasts over the last week, you have certainly heard Michael Kay note in a conversation he or somebody had with Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, that K-Long said (paraphrasing here) that he can 'fix' Ryan's swing. Ryan's swing has been adjusted too much, thus not improving his swing at all. If Long can fix his swing this offseason to make him a better contact hitter (he's a no-power type, so if Ryan can hit .260 out of the nine hole, that's amazing for him and great for the defense), then Ryan might be the best option. Just something to ponder.

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