When the New York Yankees signed slugging catcher Brian McCann during the offseason, some pundits thought so much of the free-agent acquisition that they wondered if he would become the team's clubhouse leader with Derek Jeter retiring at the conclusion of the 2014 season. McCann, at the time, wasn't buying it. Wisely.
At the midway point of his first season with the Yankees, how would McCann characterize his performance? At NJ.com, he says:
"Horrible," said the catcher, who signed a five-year, $85-million deal with the Yankees this offseason. "Hitting — you know, I feel good behind the plate. But swinging the bat, I need to get better."
There's no use even trying to equivocate or make excuses in New York City. The fans know how you've played, and the media will persecute you for trying to spin. Regardless of his honesty, McCann's own performance needs much improvement before he can become even a leader by example, much less some kind of interactive guru. He's batting .221 with a .361 on-base plus slugging average — which ranks 11th among qualified catchers from around the majors, and 26th out of 30 among those with at least 150 plate appearances at the season's midway point.
Worst of all, the Yankees are 41-40 and not in first place, and McCann takes responsibility.
"It's putting a lot. Myself — I'm a big reason for that," he said. "Our pitching staff has been amazing. It's the big reason why we're at where we're at."
McCann can, and probably will, do better. With the Atlanta Braves from 2005-2013, he averaged .277/.350/.473 with 26 home runs per every 162 games. He compiled those numbers in a much tougher home ballpark in which to hit. He's not injured, that we know of.
And taking responsibility will buy him some time to iron out the kinks. But he's a catcher on the wrong side of 30 and those types of careers have a way of regressing. The Yankees probably were counting on McCann adjusting to a new league and performing closer to his career averages early in the contract. If he doesn't get better, and the Yankees don't get better — and soon — McCann is going to become the focal point of why. And it might get ugly. Ed Whitson ugly.
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