(Double-ear flaps. So stupid. GAH!!! Courtesy of the AP)
In addition to muddying the waters of the Russell Martin contract situation, Jon Heyman also listed the Yankees as one of several teams interested in free agent outfielder Shane Victorino. Victorino, 32, is coming off a down year that saw him traded from his longtime team in Philadelphia out to Cali to finish the season with the payroll-bloated Dodgers. I’m just going to get right to the point and say that I want absolutely no part of Shane Victorino on the 2013 Yankees. And here’s the kicker, I have absolutely no reason why. I’m not sure what it is about him, because it’s not like he’s a shitty baseball player, but I’ve just never been much of a Shane Victorino guy. It’s completely irrational and I’m the first one to admit it, because Victorino could actually be a good fit for the Yankees.
Despite only posting a .310 wOBA and 94 wRC+ last season, Victorino is still a .275/.341/.430 career hitter (.338 wOBA) with good speed on the basepaths and in the defensive outfield. He's never hit more than 18 HR in a season, but he has hit at least 10 in every season since 2007. The Yankees could use more contact guys in their lineup, Victorino has an 11.6% career K rate. The Yankees could use some more speed in the lineup, Victorino stole a career best 39 bases in 2012. The Yankees need a right fielder and could definitely use some more roster flexibility, and Victorino could play all 3 outfield positions. And he's a switch hitter, and he's been worth at least 3.2 fWAR every season since '07.
Looking at all of that, Victorino seems like, and probably is, a better RF option for 2013 than Ichiro. He's like a younger, more versatile version of Ichiro and yet, I just can't even think of him wearing a Yankee uniform. Maybe it's the goofy smile, maybe it's the idiotic double-ear flap batting helmet, maybe it's the fact that some SportsCenter anchor dubbed him "The Flyin' Hawaiian," which is neither clever nor funny. None of those are good reasons to not be interested in Victorino, at least not as good as pointing out that he is 32 and the drop-off in his production, especially the power, was pretty serious this past season. But I just know this- if the Yankees end up with Shane Victorino as their starting right fielder next year, I'm going to be a sad panda.
Chances are that's not going to happen. At 32, Victorino isn't quite in "just sign a 1-year deal with a contender to chase a ring" territory quite yet, and it's still perfectly reasonable for him to seek a multi-year deal. He reportedly wants 3 years, and some team out there will probably give it to him, but I can't see that being the Yankees. They would only break their 1-year approach for a game changer, and a game changer Victorino is not. He's still got some skills, skills that would blend nicely into the weaker areas of the Yankee roster. And yet I want nothing to do him.