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Alfonso Soriano and Ichiro Suzuki are a $25 million platoon

Jun 6, 2014, 12:33 PM EDT

New York Yankees Alfonso Soriano watches team bat against Boston Red Sox in MLB game in New York Reuters

Alfonso Soriano began the season as the Yankees’ everyday designated hitter and Ichiro Suzuki began the season on the Yankees’ bench, but now they’re being platooned in right field … at a combined salary of $25 million.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi has decided to play Soriano almost exclusively versus left-handed pitching because at age 38 he’s really struggled versus right-handers this season. On the flip side, Girardi has decided to give Suzuki the heavy portion of the platoon, playing him versus right-handers, because at age 40 he’s hitting .309 with a .371 on-base percentage.

It’s a solid platoon situation, if not for the fact that both players are big names making big money, but that isn’t as much of an issue for the Yankees as it might be for other teams and, in Soriano’s case, the Cubs still are on the hook for most of his salary anyway.

  1. Jared Munson - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    I feel Ichiro has proven himself in the first 40 or so games to be able to play every day again. Numbers speak for themselves.

    • dondada10 - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:53 PM

      Giving him 2-3 days off a week is probably going to keep him productive this year. I wouldn’t trot him out there that often and sitting against lefties is probably the perfect scenario.

    • bolweevils2 - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:27 PM

      He’s not awful, but a .722 OPS for a corner outfielder doesn’t make him an every day outfielder you’d really want to have. And that OPS would presumably go down if he began playing more vs. lefties. But he’s not a liability either.

      In his defense, he does have other positives that don’t show up in his OPS. But his speed and his defense aren’t the pluses they used to be anymore either.

      • dcarroll73 - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:50 PM

        And yet he made a sliding catch just the other day which probablt saved the game…

  2. [citation needed] fka COPO - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    but now they’re being platooned in right field … at a combined salary of $25 million.

    Of which the Yanks are paying a total of $11.5M, but that doesn’t look as bad as the headline so…

    [and note, the Ichiro deal was and is still awful, and Soriano should be one of the first few DFA’d if a replacement can be had, but my point stands]

    • 18thstreet - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      Yeah, but he didn’t include a word about Carlos Beltran who is being PAID $15 million a year for three years to actually BE the right fielder.

      So that’s $26.5 million in right to go along with $18 million behind the plate, $21 million in center, and $23 million at first.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:19 PM

        Well yes, and the US Dept of Def has spent billions on F-35s, but they have as much to do with a C, CF and 1b do on a post about a RF platoon.

        The Yanks spend a lot of money on people, but it’s intentionally misleading to word the headline as it is (most mainstream writers don’t write their headlines, not sure about bloggers here).

      • jgaws - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        The Yankees provide a useful service to MLB in paying off extravagant salaries for players that can’t compete at the level they are being paid for and for organizations that can’t afford to pay them. Of course the Yankees are also mostly responsible for these salaries in the first place so it all works out.

        As long as the Yankees don’t win and their fans don’t mind footing the bill, I don’t mind.

    • carpi2 - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:04 PM

      I was curious how much of that $25 Million was actually being paid by the Yanks

    • dcarroll73 - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:56 PM

      jgaws, have you looked at the standings? The Yanks are coming off the worst patch of this season, and yet they are right in the thick of a wild card race. They are also not out of the question for their division since nobody thinks Toronto can sustain their recent pace. So yes, as a Yankees fan, I am quite happy that they are spending money as they have.

  3. vancouversportsbro - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    If only the Dodgers ownership could have an ideal situation like this /sarcasm

  4. scorpiox1960 - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    Time to clear a space in Monument Park for them.

  5. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    Hopefully Soriano has another hot steak or two left in him. I think a lot of Yankee fans and writers did not realize how terrible Soriano had been for the Cubs, barring his couple streaks each year when he hits everything out of the park. His homers come in bunches, with nothing in between.

    • Reflex - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:44 PM

      I pointed this out during spring. If Soriano is getting regular playing time, this team is in trouble. Right now they have three big signings in Beltran/Ellsbury/McCann who have combined for 1.2 bWAR and $53 million in payroll. Meanwhile Cano has put up 1.1 bWAR and costs less than half that. Terrible decision making all around. Soriano is so far putting up negative bWAR, -0.8 to date.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:12 PM

        Meanwhile Cano has put up 1.1 bWAR and costs less than half that. Terrible decision making all around.

        And Solarte has put up a 1.1 rWAR for the major league minimum. While Cano has put up a good rWAR so far, he’s also go only 2 HR, and 12 2b (4 less than Solarte in HR and equal in 2b). He’s SLG .422 which would be his worst since ’08, and has 9.5 years left on his deal. The HR outage isn’t just this year either, as he had only 6 HR post ASB last year.

      • unclemosesgreen - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:13 PM

        Fangraphs has Soriano “earning” -1.8 million so far this year, with Ichiro earning 2.5 to bring the platoon up to positive dollars.

        Sori should be platooned until he’s dfa’d. Since he’s decidedly sub-replacement by any measure, that dfa should happen soon.

      • bolweevils2 - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:33 PM

        What does Solarte have to do with it? He didn’t replace Cano, he’s mostly playing 3B. So theoretically, you could have both Cano and Solarte in the lineup under Reflex’s scenario of resigning Cano instead of spending on the other three guys.

        But that’s just this year. 10 years from now for all we know you’d have spent the last 5 of them regretting you’re still paying Cano big money for all we know.

      • Mr. No Days Off - Jun 6, 2014 at 4:09 PM

        I don’t see how you can make the statement that “If Soriano is getting regular playing time, this team is in trouble.” Soriano was penciled in as the every day DH and carried the Yankees offense last year after being acquired. It’s completely 20/20 hindsight to make that statement, even if you preface it with saying you pointed it out during spring training. Who would you have replace Soriano as the DH?

      • Reflex - Jun 6, 2014 at 7:41 PM

        COPO – As pointed out, once ARod was out Solarte had a position. The point isn’t that Cano is having a great year, the point is that he’s having a better year than any of the guys the Yanks signed with the money they saved. And in fact, given McCann and Beltran’s declines which predate this season, and Ellsbury’s fragility, it is likely that Cano outperforms all three of them combined for the life of their contracts. Given that Ellsbury got seven years, at that point we are only talking three years of Cano left.

        The Yankees are the ones who said that spending that much on Cano was too much given their other holes. Yet with the other holes filled for more than twice the money they are getting roughly equal production. That is horrible decision making. They will spend more on these three through the life of their deals than the M’s spent on Cano. Even if Cano isn’t worth it in the end, he was still a better deal for the Yanks than the one they went with.

      • Reflex - Jun 6, 2014 at 7:46 PM

        No Days Off –

        It is not 20/20 hindsight. Soriano has not been an even average major league level player since 2007. The only time he was good from then until now was for two months at the end of last season. Perhaps for Yankees fans who pay zero attention to players who are not on the Yankees this was a surprise, but for those of us who follow players who are not Yankees this is the norm and was to be expected. He had a hot streak, but it was the best two months of production he has had since he was 33.

        And like I said, I pointed this out in spring training, only to be shouted down by Yankees fans who seemed to believe there was something in the water in NY that could make an aging slugger young again.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 6, 2014 at 9:10 PM

        Ellsbury reeked of a panic move, since the Yankees already had Ellsbury-lite in Gardner. Choo would have been a much better target if they could have waited more than 1 day for him to decide.

        Time will tell on McCann and Beltran. McCann had to learn a new pitching staff, and a new league of batters. Frankly, he has done a fantastic job with the pitching staff given all of the injuries, and the fact that he has lad to learn almost 2 staffs with all of the injury replacements. I am sure his offense will come around once he has a few minutes to think about it.

        As soon as Beltran gets himself healthy, he will be fine. He has been remarkably durable for a guy with such a bad injury reputation. Take out the last year or two with the Mets (and their notoriously flaky medical staff) and he has been a horse. Even at his age I am not terribly concerned about him turning it around.

        But Soriano, um, yeah. He will be player of the week two or three times this season, and the rest of the time he will be absolute drek.

      • Reflex - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:46 PM

        I can’t agree with Beltran or McCann having any real upside. What you are seeing is what you will get. Both players were very clearly already in decline, and both are at the age where decline is the expectation for their positions with their mileage. Neither will be worth the money paid, and probably not even half of it.

        Ellsbury certainly was the inferior choice to Choo. He’s the only guy of the three that stands a chance of living up to most of his contract, although injuries will determine that. I still don’t see him outperforming Cano, even a Cano without power

      • carpi2 - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:14 PM

        If I remember correctly, Soriano was bashing 29-35 HR’s his last few years in Chicago. I think he did pretty damn good, given his age and the fact he literally had no help, while with the Cubs.

        I can’t remember his stats from last year, but I pretty sure he had another 30+ HR’s. Going into this season, you’d have to expect he would, at least, be serviceable as a DH.

      • Reflex - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:31 AM

        From 2008-2013 Soriano has averaged 0.8 bWAR, league average for a starter is 2 bWAR. Yes he has hit home runs, but he has done literally nothing else. His BA has been .257 and his OBP has been .313 while he has played absolutely terrible defense.

        He does not even make a good DH. He was finished in 2008, the fact that six years later the Yankees and their fans think he is worth something to the team just demonstrates how little they pay attention to players not in a Yankees uniform.

      • masher1965 - Jun 7, 2014 at 10:44 AM

        Your point Reflex, has a few flaws.. First off it is extremely short term, especially in the light of a ridiculous 10 year contract . I would think by now you would be slightly hesitant of 10 year contracts after Arod. Those first 5 years may be great but those last 5 are killers.
        Second , you are talking about 3 people and comparing to one, what about the other 2 positions these guys are playing ?? Outside of Beltran, who is injured, you need to fill the spots and that has to be thrown into your calculations and comparisons. Again, it is still too early, ( just past 1/4 of the season) to start writing this as a bad deal . You are jumping the gun WAY too early .

      • Reflex - Jun 8, 2014 at 2:39 AM

        The Yankees committed to 7 years with Ellsbury ($153 mil), 5 years with McCann ($85 mil) and 3 years of Beltran ($45 mil). That is $283 mil in commitments and 15 total years of time. They did this at a time when players like Marlon Byrd and Nelson Cruz were just sitting out there. Kendry Morales only just signed. Furthermore, Francisco Cervelli provided 0.8 bWAR last season. Granted that is terrible, but McCann is on pace for 0.6 bWAR and cost a whole hell of a lot more…

        There were so many ways to better structure this team that would have cost less in terms of dollars and years, and it did not take hindsight to see that Soriano/McCann/Beltran were not the answers. Cano + Cruz/Byrd/Morales and perhaps a veteran catcher would have produced a better team for less, even at the price Cano ended up costing.

      • Reflex - Jun 8, 2014 at 2:45 AM

        I forgot to mention this, but I already have the caveat of small sample size/early on here. A better criticism is that while Cano is outperforming his replacements, the Mariners did not spend $24 million this season expecting him to put up only 3.3 bWAR, which is his current pace. He’s certainly underperforming expectations, that said its still better than his replacements.

  6. deathmonkey41 - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    Soriano hasn’t done anything to even warrant being on the team- nevermind a starter every few days. You could spot him 3 balls and he’d still strike out a ton. Just awful. I would even start Ichiro against left handers.

    • bolweevils2 - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:35 PM

      Yeah, but he’s awful until he’s suddenly the best hitter in baseball for a short time and carries your team. That’s all part of the deal with Soriano. You have to take the bad with the good.

  7. denny65 - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:30 PM

    I believe Mr. Suzuki will be playing (probably as their starting right fielder) for the Yankees in 2015.

    And I wouldn’t be surprised to see him playing for some MLB team in 2016. The man knows the zen of conditioning and agility, and bottom line, he’s still producing the hits.

    Call him “Slappy” all you want, as he was here in Seattle his last few years. The man is still producing hits.

    • renaado - Jun 6, 2014 at 6:00 PM

      Ichiro can play all he want till the age of 50, he still wants to do more and that certainly shows not just longevity but also passion on how he really loves the game. He wants to show us that age doesn’t matter but rather just a number when you play the game of Baseball.

    • stoicpaisano - Jun 6, 2014 at 6:05 PM

      I’d really like to see Ichiro sign a deal with the Royals.

      August…in Kansas City…

  8. largebill - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:36 PM

    Smart play. A good deal of Casey Stengel’s success was in using platoons with players who may not have accepted platooning when with other teams.

  9. Mr. No Days Off - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    New Headline: Dodgers platooning Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in left and center for a combined $57 million.

    • 18thstreet - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:57 PM

      Every team makes mistakes. The question is, how deep a hole have you dug yourself into? As far as the Yankees’ problems go, the Soriano/Ichiro problem is pretty damn small — neither is signed for next year. Neither is earning SO much that the Yankees couldn’t cut them if a better option were available.

      I think the Yankees’ problem — as with the Red Sox’ problems in the outfield, by the way — is that there is literally no better option out there for them. It’s like Phil Hughes last year. He was terrible, and yet he was still the best option the Yankees had.

      As always, it will be interesting to see what happens at the trade deadline. Most teams still have a shot at a playoff spot, so there’s very few sellers. It’s getting harder for teams — rich and poor alike — to fix their problems either through in-season trades or off-season free agent signings.

  10. trbmb - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    Whatever is broken here, have no worry, Cashman will find a way to break it more. After all, he is the cash man.

    • dcarroll73 - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:05 AM

      Yeah, that’s why he has such a terrible record in his tenure as Yanks GM? I think anyone who is paying attention would give him good marks.

  11. unlost1 - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    Put Soriano at 2B! Oh wait, Jeter at 2b!

  12. musketmaniac - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    why are New yorkers so touchy about their Yankees. The city is overrated just like their team.

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