By Sean Hartnett
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Yankees captain Derek Jeter’s offensive productivity is disintegrating before our very eyes. Even though he’s carrying a dreadful .621 on-base plus slugging, manager Joe Girardi has refused to drop No. 2 from the second spot in the batting order.
Jeter’s feeble final-season statistics are least of the Bombers’ problems. Barring a miraculous late-season charge, there are only 25 games left in the Jeter era. What should be deeply concerning to Yankees fans is that declining sluggers Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann are all signed through at least the 2016 season.
The under-performing trio will occupy $54.5 million of the Yankees’ payroll for each of the next two seasons. Beltran and Teixeira’s contracts expire in the 2016 offseason, but McCann is under contract through the 2018 season with the Yankees holding a $15 million club option for 2019.
Beltran is suffering career-worst numbers in 2014. The 37-year-old outfielder/designated hitter is batting a career-low .239 average. Same goes for his .305 on-base percentage. Beltran’s .721 on-base plus slugging is his worst since 2000.
Teixeira has become increasingly brittle with age and his offensive production has taken a nose dive in recent years. Excluding his 15-game 2013 campaign, Teixeira’s OBP and OPS has declined in each of his five full seasons as a Yankee. His .223 average, .325 OBP, .413 SLG, .738 OPS this season are all career lows aside from the small sample season of 2013.
McCann has enjoyed an offensive outburst of late. The 30-year-old catcher has gone 6-for-8 (.750) with two home runs and four RBIs in the past two games. But this has done little to cover up McCann’s dismal first season in pinstripes.
His 2014 stats aren’t a rare “off-year.” McCann’s 2014 numbers mirror that of his dreadful 2012 season.
McCann in 2012: 121 games, .230 AVG, .300 OBP, 20 HR, 67 RBI, .399 SLG.
McCann in 2014: 117 games, .244 AVG, .295 OBP, 17 HR, 61 RBI, .405 SLG.
The left-handed batter has produced the majority of his power numbers by taking aim at Yankee Stadium’s short right field porch. Away from Yankee Stadium, McCann is really struggling.
McCann’s home stats: 60 games, 15 home runs, 41 RBI, .509 SLG, .807 OPS.
McCann’s road stats: 57 games, 2 home runs, 20 RBI, .300 SLG, .593 OPS.
The Yankees’ 544 runs scored are tied for 13th in the American League. A lot of that blame can be directed at the Bombers’ highly-paid trio of declining sluggers. Leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury leads the team with 65 RBIs. He is on pace to finish 2014 with 77 RBI.
You would have to look as far back as 1995 as the last season when the Yankees did not have a 100-RBI man. Paul O’Neill led the team with 96 RBIs that year.
Teixeira, Beltran and McCann each possess no-trade clauses. They’re not going anywhere, and it’s unlikely that any of them will experience a late-career resurgence. Teixeira, Beltran and McCann are decliners. It’s as simple as that.
Next season, Girardi is likely to bat Ellsbury leadoff, followed by on-base machine Brett Gardner in the two spot. This begs the question of exactly who is going to drive in these top-of-the-order speedsters next season?
Could the Bronx Bombers fail to live up to their nickname again in 2015? Will the Yankees be stuck without a 100-RBI man for consecutive years? Well, McCann is yet to record a 100-RBI season during his 10-year career. Beltran’s last 100-RBI campaign came as a Met in 2008, when he had 112. Teixeira’s most recent 100-RBI season came in 2011, when he recorded 111.
Considering Beltran and Teixeira’s aging and banged-up bodies, it’s probable that neither will come close to being anywhere near 162-game players in either of their final two remaining seasons in the Bronx.
All of these issues will be exacerbated should Alex Rodriguez be physically able to return in 2015. Add A-Rod’s $21 million salary to mix, and the Yankees will have $75.5 million in payroll committed to Rodriguez, Teixeira, Beltran and McCann.
A-Rod’s hips have undergone multiple surgeries. Who knows what kind of power he will be able to summon should he be able to suit up in 2015? Additionally, it would be surprising to see a 39-year-old with two bad hips spending much time at third base.
Beltran DH’ed 71 of his 101 games this season. If A-Rod returns, there will be a logjam there. Girardi will have to do some clever juggling next season. No matter what he does, the Yankees’ offense looks likely to fizzle again in 2015.
Follow Sean on Twitter @HartnettHockey.
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