The Yankees On The BasepathsPosted: April 5, 2011
Speed is usually not a strength of the Yankees, in fact, it is usually a weakness and also a strength of the opposing team. However, it is not only speed that is used, but also aggression used to put pressure on the Yankees and force mistakes.
Most recently, the Rangers used this last year in the ALCS with Elvis Andrus at the top of the lineup and it was very effective. So with the addition of a faster-than-Posada Russell Martin, should the Yankees really be more aggressive?
I think they should. There is no doubt that this year’s team is a little weaker than the 2009 and 2010 teams. The starting pitching is not what it was and in order to balance this out, they need to score more runs. Now I’m not saying that Ivan Nova won’t break out or that AJ Burnett won’t bounce back or even that Phil Hughes won’t get his velocity back, but let’s not take anything for granted.
When asked about the Yankees stealing a couple of bases over the weekend Girardi replied,“That was one of the things we talked about during Spring Training that one of the things we wanted to focus on was base-running and being more aggressive, getting better secondary leads and going first-to-third.”
Now the Yankees offense is of course shaped by its power and patience, two traits that we should not mess with. However, what if they start struggling. As we have seen from past Aprils and Mays, it is very possible for most of the lineup to be slumping at the same time. Being aggressive and taking more chances on the bases is one way to give yourself a little shot in the arm and energize the team as whole. Baseball is about momentum and one play on the basepaths could easily shift the momentum of a game.
So who would be the people who step up? Well, Russell Martin, who has stolen two bases already in 2011, definitely adds some speed at the bottom of the order. Then, there is of course Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez. These are the five real threats, but this is much better than it has been in years past.
Although it is not something that should become a key element of the offense, speed and aggression on the bases is something that Joe Girardi should definitely start using more. It has proven to be very effective against the Yankees in the past, so why not turn the tide a little bit and start using it themselves since they have it for once.