Three Questions

Now that the dust has settled on the Ichiro trade, I have three questions about how it impacts the Yankees.

1- Should he play left or right?

Ichiro was Seattle’s rightfielder, but the Yankees already have Swisher in that spot. Take any defensive metric, and Ichiro is the superior outfielder. He leads Swisher in range factor 2.16 to 2.00. He has 3 assists to Swisher’s 2. Going to more advanced metrics his UZR is 15.6 and his ARM rates at a 3.7. Swisher’s UZR is 1.6 and his ARM rates at -0.7. So, Suzuki is clearly the better outfielder, a conclusion you would draw by watching them as well. Furthermore, Swisher has played leftfield in the majors 117 times, most recently for the Yankees in 2009. Suzuki hasn’t appeared there since the 2001 playoffs when he made a spot start in left. But, Yankee Stadium has a bigger leftfield than rightfield and the sun is much harder to handle in left than right. It’s a close call, but I would at least consider switching Swisher to left and putting Ichiro in right if I were the Yankees.

2- Who should be the DH against RHP?

I was somewhat surprised that Joe Girardi seemed to indicate that Ibanez would be the everyday DH against RHP because he isn’t the best candidate. Ibanez has certainly done damage against RHP, but his slash line of .251/.315/.474 pales in comparison to Chavez’s .295/.353/.525 against RHP. If I were Girardi, I would consider putting Chavez in there as the everyday DH against RHP.

3- Do the Yankees need to make another move?

The problem with Ichiro is that he cannot hit LHP. That is also a problem for Chavez and Ibanez. When the Yankees face a LHP they can put Jones in at DH or LF, but not both, so Ichiro probably plays against a type of pitcher he cannot hit. (.232/.242/.267) Ideally, the Yankees would find someone who could hit against LHP and to keep Ichiro on the bench in those situations. The answer may be Brandon Laird who is hitting .298/.344/.505 against LHP at AAA. When September rolls around the Yankees could promote him (he is already on the 40-man) and give him a shot as an every day player against LHP. The other nice thing about Laird is that the Yankees have turned him into an Eric HInske type player. He can play third and first and the corner outfield spots in a pinch.