The disgust among Yankees fans with the team’s offensive output this postseason has been palpable. Simply adjust the volume on your TV, and you will hear what sounds like everyone not named Raul Ibanez or Derek Jeter serenaded with boos after every out.
Make that everyone but Ibanez.
Of course, Yankees fans aren’t the only group that seems to feel entitled to big offensive output. Rangers fans let their disappointment be known after the team’s shocking and sudden exit from the playoff picture by loudly booing the Rangers best hitter, Josh Hamilton on the season’s last day.
With the Rangers eliminated, and the Yankees falling into a precarious 0-2 hole to the Tigers, the likelihood grows that the two teams will try to assuage their dissatisfied fan bases by aggressively trying to improve their lineups in the offseason.
While Yankees ownership has been public about its alleged intention to keep payroll down, the recent evaporation of offensive production may have them rethinking their position. The looming dissatisfaction among “Yankees Universe” could mean intensifying pressure for the team to spend money this winter to upgrade their lineup. And when it comes to potential improvements on the 2013 free agent market, the Rangers have potentially two “perfect” fits.
New York’s decision to trade Jesus Montero, and the reality that Gary Sanchez is still at least a couple of years away means Mike Napoli would make sensible replacement for the tandem of Russell Martin and “Former Ranger Great” Chris Stewart. Napoli has previously shown the combination of power and patience that seems to jibe with the Yankees approach, although some of the shine came off in 2012. Don’t be surprised if the Yankees make a serious run at Napoli this winter.
In any other city or scenario, Josh Hamilton would seem like a no-brainer for the Yankees. Hamilton would represent long term and everyday replacement for the carousel of aging stars usually employed to roam left field in the Bronx. The downside risk is obvious for obvious reasons. Still, in the spirit of Mickey Mantle, Hamilton would reinvigorate the Yankees lineup if off the field distractions could be avoided. What’s not obvious, despite popular opinion, is that the Yankees will shy away from the risk. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they craft some sort of deal that goes great lengths to ensure oversight. They could hire Johnny Narron, Jerry Narron and even high school coach Clay Council to provide the Deb-Dexter Morgan treatment. Okay, that might be pushing it, but it would be a mistake to jump to the conclusion that they won’t at least try.
Ultimately, the Rangers are in a tough spot. They need to improve a team that is yet to be weakened by the onset of free agency. There just aren’t a whole lot of attractive potential additions on the free agent horizon. In all likelihood, the best approach may be to hope to avoid subtraction.