This is the second in a series of 10 Burning Questions the Yankees face this offseason.
You know what the Yankees' offense really could've used this year? A second baseman with a .314 average, 14 homers and 82 RBIs. Maybe mix in an .836 OPS and wins above replacement (WAR) of 6.4, according to Baseball Reference, plus an everyday player.
If the Yankees had won six more games, they would have hosted an AL wild-card game on Tuesday. When the Yankees didn't sign Robinson Cano for 10 years, it made sense for the long haul, but it did hurt them in 2014. He might have been the difference between having an offense that was good enough to make the playoffs, instead of the anemic one they displayed in 2014.
Brian Cashman admitted he had to play wait-and-see on the second and third base market last winter, as Cano's free agency and Alex Rodriguez's suspension played itself out. The Yankees ended up with the likes of Brian Roberts (1.0 WAR), Kelly Johnson (0.3 WAR) and Yangervis Solarte (1.0 WAR) at second and third. Eventually, Chase Headley (2.1), Stephen Drew (-0.7 WAR) and Martin Prado (1.4 WAR) showed up. But it was too late and not enough.
So Cano's absence wasn't made up by his actual replacements. Nor was his offense really found from the guys who were supposed to help fill the void.
Ellsbury, in the first season of a seven-year, $153 million deal, had an OPS of .747 for the Yankees. Do you know what Drew's OPS for his career is? .747.
In the second half of the year, Ellsbury had an on-base percentage of .298. This is scary stuff.
From the get go, Ellsbury's contract looked like one you might like at the beginning but not the end. Ellsbury is just 31 years old, but there was not enough bang for Yankees' bucks in his first year.
McCann started off very slow and seemed impacted by the more shift-happy AL East compared to the NL East. The thing about McCann is his numbers were worse (but not that much different) than his last three years with the Braves.
2014: 140 games, .232, 23 HRs, 75 RBIs, .692 OPS
2011-13: 117 games, 21 HRs, 64 RBIs, .770 OPS
So McCann might have room to improve but probably not that much. Plus, he will turn 31 years old -- which is more significant for a catcher -- when spring training begins.
Beltran had better than a 1.000 OPS in his first 15 games as a Yankee. Then he tumbled over a wall in Tampa and never was the same. Beltran also had the bone spur in his elbow for most of the season.
But his missing bat was the difference-maker -- in a negative way -- for this Yankees team. Without a strong Beltran in the middle of the order, the Yankees ended up being too reliant on Mark Teixeira.
Beltran, 37, seemed like he could have been in better shape, but he denied that was a problem.
Beltran -- with the bone spur cleaned up -- could be a source of major improvement for the Yankees in 2015. While he wasn't the great player he has been in 2014, he ended up with 14 homers and 49 RBIs in 109 games. Again, not great in the least, but not awful when you consider he was playing hurt.
That leads us to Teixeira, whose season just collapsed in the second half. Teixeira's OPS in the first half was a very respectable .805. In the second half, it was .573. That is not good.
Now, Teixeira and the Yankees think that another season removed from wrist surgery should do him a lot of good. That makes some sense. Think about having a bad wrist and swinging violently day after day. That can't help. Plus, Teixeira said he will have more of a normal winter of training and will be stronger entering the spring.
Still, Teixeira is a $22 million player who needs to be hitting sixth. The 2014 Yankees needed more from him, which is why I thought he was the most important player on the team entering the season.
If he had kept up his first-half pace, maybe the Yankees would have scored more than 633 runs, the third fewest in all of the American League.
All and all, the Yankees need more from Ellsbury, Beltran, Teixeira and McCann if the offense is going to be any better than middling next season.
Question: Will the Yankees' offense be better next season?