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I've written the Yankees preview for Batter's Box every year since 2005, the first year we started doing team/dkvision previews here on Canada's Baseball Leader. And every year, I pick them to win the division and usually to win the World Series.
    And why not? Every year since 1993, except for an aberrant third place disappointment in 2008, the Pinstriped Wonders have finished either first or second, and have made the playoffs every year but '08 since 1995. In that relatively short time,  they've appeared in seven World Series and have won six titles. (Pretty good, even by NYY standards!) So why should this year be any different?

Why? Because, unlike past years, the Yankee pitching suu-uuucks. Cliff Lee signing with the Phillies might prove to hurt the Yankees more than the Rangers, and could ultimately decide the fate of three 2010 playoff teams -- the Yanks, Rangers and Phils -- in the coming season.

It hurts me to write this. And I hope I am wrong -- way wrong. But to start with the big news, to avoid burying the lead, let's be up front with it ... the 2011 Yankees are a team that looks like it could well finish ...

... fourth. Fourth? As in, you know, one place out of last? Really? Let's answer a few questions that support that gloomy Bronx forecast.

The pitching "suu-uuucks"? C'mon, italicized and with five "u's"? Surely you're exaggerating.
Not so much. But that question is a tough one to start with, so let's come back to it while we ponder the fact that Freddy Garcia just beat out Bartolo Colon for a rotation spot -- which would be really good if this were, oh, eight years ago.

Okay then, let's start in the outfield -- that's always been a Yankee stronghold, right? Ruth, DiMaggio, Mantle, Jackson, Williams ...
Stop right there, seriously.

Nick Swisher is a good baseball player, and a markedly better hitter than his daddy Steve was. But per his evidently a propos surname, he strikes out a lot and is never going to threaten for a batting title. Suffice to say, he's no Jackson and certainly no Ruth in RF.

Curtis Granderson is an even gooder (more goodly? oh, right! I mean, "better"!) baseball player than Swisher, and might even threaten to take a spot on the AL All-Star team, but he's no Joe D. or Mickey or even Bernie (at his best) in CF.

Brett Gardner is a nice player, too, over in LF, though his stick is just okay (.268 career) and he has little power (eight homers in 852 career AB so far). Truth be told, his best asset is his speed (86 steals in 101 attempts) should the Yankees decide to run. Which the Yankees don't do.

The backups are an amazingly elderly (for a guy who turns just 34 in a few weeeks) Andruw Jones and Designated New Guy Chris Dickerson (just acquired for Sergio Mitre. Did we mention that the Yankees shouldn't be giving up ANY of their potential pitching resources?) FYI, Swisher and Gardner both left a very recent spring game against the Jays with minor "TBD" injuries. Probably nothing to concern Yankee fans, but hey Andruw and Chris -- be ready!

Okay, the OF looks like it could be -- could be -- league average. Now about that pitching ...
No, no, not ready to go there yet. Did we mention that the Yankees just bought some pitching "insurance" by giving a contract to Kevin "That Ball is Long Gone" Millwood? Last season, Millwood led the league -- in losses, -- and racked up a record of 4-15 with a 5.10 ERA for the Orioles  here in the AL East, so at least he will be able to mentor teammates in what it's like to get knocked around in Boston, Toronto and Tampa ...

Fine. What's wrong with the infield?
Oh, the infield? That's actually pretty okay. More than that, even.

Alex Rodriguez missed 25 games last year, but still hit .270/30/125. The eight 40- and 50-homer seasons are long past, but 35 homers and 140 RBI seem well within reach. Wait, make that 120 RBI -- guys have to be on base for him to drive them in! And his career .303 average will likely continue to toddle south, but this is still A-Rod, the best third baseman in franchise history.

To his left is the best shortstop in franchise history, a fellow future Hall of Famer in Derek Jeter. Jeter will become the first 3,000-hit Yankee in May but he turns 37 in June and let's face it, his glove has never been more than ceremoniously tinged gold.

One the other side of the bag, 2011's Robinson Cano is looking for his third consecutive 200-hit season and another (well-deserved in this case) Gold Glove, while 1B Mark Teixeira, at the age of just 31, looks to hit his 300th career homer (he needs just 25) and to rack up his ninth consecutive season of 100+ RBI. He'll need to jack his batting average back up toward .300 from las season's disappointing .256, but certainly don't bet against that!  Oh, and by the way, Tex has four (well-deserved) Gold Gloves, including the last two.

There's even an interesting, former Hall-of-Fame-career-path corner guy in camp, Eric Chavez, but he's not gonna make the team, so never mind ...

Anyway, yeah ... this is arguably the best infield in major league baseaball, with an aging shortstop the only concern. If the Yankees are to battle into playoff contention again, the burden will lie with the infield.

So, then, the pitching ...
Not yet! Please? Not yet, lunch is only half-finished ... and for those Yankee True Believers out there who were sure former young stud pitchers (now non-roster invitees) Mark Prior and Brian Anderson would contribute? Um. No. They won't.

Besides, like the ol' perfesser, Casey, once said, "If you didn't have a catcher, you'd have an awful lot of passed balls."

Right! And nobody has consistency behind the plate like the Yankees with perennial All-Star Jorge Po ...
Again, stop right there. Jorge Posada is being counted on in the Yankee lineup, sure, but his contributions are pencilled in right now from the designated hitter position. (Where he may split some at-bats with aforementioned doddering outfielder Andruw Jones).

The Yankee catching gear -- entrusted in the past to the likes of Bresnahan, Dickey, Berra, Howard, Munson, Posada and more (Matt Nokes! Um, never mind ...) -- is bestowed now upon former Dodger All-Star Russell Martin. It's amusing to think that the most interesting thing about Martin is his name (Russell Nathan Coltrane Jeanson Martin) or that the last Martin to significantly impact baseball in the Bronx was manager Bily the Kid. But for real, Russell is pretty good -- he just turned 28, owns both a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award, and the free-agent signee has shown career norms in the .280s with double-digit home run power. If he bounces bak from last season's disappointing .248 average, he could well put up 1990's Posada numbers, and the Yankees would be more than happy with that.

The "cool names for Yankee catchers" (Yogi? Elston? Thurman? Come on!) theme continues with this year's backup, either Jesus Montero or Francisco Cervelli. To start the season, it will probably be Montero, the latest Yankee phenom (remember, they woudln't include him in a deal to Seattle for Lee) as Cervelli is out at least a month with a fractured left foot. Not to worry, Martin will catch 140 if he's healthy, and Montero's future is probably as a DH when Posada decides to hang 'em up.

Okay, nice job  on the preview, though a bit of a downer. Thanks and ...
Wait a sec. Don't you want to hear about the pitching?

Oh, goodness, I nearly forgot!
Understandable. Much of the Yankee '11 pitching experience might end up being ... forgettable.

Okay, you've got the front of the rotation, with three guys who are absolutely counted on to tbe the Three Aces, like Clemens-Pettitte-Cone of the '90s. And the #1 slot, filled by LHSP Carsten Charles "C.C." Sabathia looks to be in good hands. He's won 40 games for the Yankees over the past two seasons, never misses a start, and ranges toward 200 strikeouts every season, with a career-best of 251 the year before he donned pinstripes. Sabathia is baseball-card-listed at 6'7", 290# -- but realistically, he's more like 315 pounds, and that could catch up to him quickly and in a big way (think "Mickey Lolich").

Then comes the youngster, Phil Hughes, the effective righty counterpoint to Sabathia's southpaw tosses, a kid who won 18 games last year at the age of 24. I can't find anything negative to worry about with Hughes, though last season's 4.19 ERA (right in line with his career 4.20 mark) isn't precisely a positive harbinger.

Third in line is a guy Jay fans will remember, not always fondly, the sometimes-great, always-erratic A.J. Burnett. Now 34, Burnett has amassed a career mark of 110-100 to date, with a career ERA just a shade under four (3.99). He's 23-24 in two seasons as a Yankee, including an uninspiring 10-15 last season, so Yankee fans should consider carefully that earlier phrase, "absolutely counted on."

(P.S. pitching between C.C. and A.J., shouldn't Philip Joseph Hughes go by "P.J."?)

The fourth spot, with Mitre off to Arizona, belongs to Ivan Nova. (Sergio Mitre and Ivan Nova ... seriously, who is coming up with these names, Frank Zappa?) Nova is just 24 and owns all of one career victory at the MLB level, so let's put him and his apparently electric stuff in the "let's wait and see" category.

The previously-mentioned Freddy Garcia won 12 games for the White Sox in 2010 and has 133 career wins, but write this down under "safe bets" -- the fifth spot in the Yankee rotation is going to be a revolving door to rival those in the downtown' Apple's high-rise office buildings. Garcia. Colon. Millwood. Prior? Fill in the name of whatever Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankee wins three in a row here (______).

For the Yankees to win anything in 2011, the starting rotation has to more than hold up; Sabathia needs to stay healthy and dominant, Hughes needs to take the next step, Burnett needs to ring up 17 or 18 wins, and Nova and someone in that fith spot needs to figure it out to league average levels.

  • But the bullpen ...
    Yes, yes, the bullpen will be very good, though not quite as dominant as in some past years.

    Mo Rivera is 41, and though the all-time saves leader might manage to make a run at his 600th career save this season (he needs to match his age and notch 41 to get there), he is much closer to playing "Enter Sandman" as a career theme song than to intimidate opposing hitters. Which is one reason why the Yankees signed free agent Rafael Soriano (who actually out-saved Rivera last year, 45-44). After that, there's Joba Chamberlain, who's part dominating fastball and part enigma; Colon,who will be the long man until Garcia mis-steps; and guys named Robertson, Logan and Feliciano, who are, well, guys in the bullpen.

    So the Yankees could well be frighteningly awesome from the seventh through ninth innings (Joba > Soriano > Sandman) ... if the starting rotation can get them there.

    But somehow, they'll manage to win, right?
    Well, actually, Joe Girardi will manage, and if the Yankees are smart, he'll be in that position for a looong time. Girardi has managed four big league seasons (three in the Bronx) and finished  first once (won the title in '09), second once, third once and yes, fourth once -- with Florida in 2006, the only time he's won a Manager of the Year award so far.

    Good news for Girardi, I guess, is that he's proven he can be rewarded for finishing fourth.

    And ... so?
    So ... fourth place. (Seriously, are you paying attention? This preview leads with that, and didn't you get the not-so-subtle hint in that last sentence above?) Red Sox win (that hurts even more to write), Tampa takes the AL Wild Card, Toronto is a solid and promising third, and the Orioles are terrible, finishing fifth. The Yankees aren't terrible -- 82 or 83 wins, something like that, in contention until late August or so -- but in the beast that is the AL East ... that points to fourth place.

    That's right, Yankee fans of a certain age ... it's 1988-92 all over again ...

    P.S. to my dad, uncles and cousins who are all Much Larger than I am .... as noted above, I hope I am wrong -- way wrong. That's all!

  • Farewell to a Dynasty ... NYY '11 | 34 comments | Create New Account
    The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
    AWeb - Tuesday, March 29 2011 @ 08:11 AM EDT (#231794) #

    I'm assuming this is an attempt at a reverse jinx, or some-such thing. In the preview, the Yankees have the best infield in baseball, above average players in each OF spot (it takes a pretty spoiled fan to see Gardner/Granderson/Swisher as merely league average), likely above average catcher production, a very good bullpen, an ace starter...yeah, this team could get old this year and the pitching could be a little below average and/or injured, but I'd take the over on 83 wins.

    On paper, this is a good team, maybe below the Red Sox, but well above most. The thing the Yankees do have is a significant downside this year. A few age-related declines and a pitcher or two not working out could mean 75 wins. But without those, I'd be looking at 90 wins for this group if things break as they have been for the last decade.

    Mick Doherty - Tuesday, March 29 2011 @ 10:13 AM EDT (#231798) #
    How many things will I get wrong?

    To start off, Montero has been optioned to SWB and Chavez has been added to the roster. What's next?
    Hodgie - Tuesday, March 29 2011 @ 10:19 AM EDT (#231799) #
    I don't know, I think a reasonable case could be made that the NY outfield is likely to be average this season. Last year, the mean fWAR for qualified outfielders in MLB was 3.05 with only slight fluctuations from year to year previously. At first blush this would appear to favour the argument that NY is above average as all 3 posted higher values than that last season.

    However, Swisher's 4.1 fWAR in 2010 represents a career high, with a previous best of 3.7 set in 2006 and he is roughly a career 3 fWAR/year player. Swisher is 30 years old entering this season. Gardner posted a very good 5.4 fWAR in his second full year in the majors, although a good portion of that is credited to an extremely high UZR for the year (21.9). With absolutely NO power and having already posted a .383 OBP last season, it is likely that Gardner will have to maintain that level of defense to post a fWAR of over 3.0. For what it is worth, Gardner posted a 9.3 UZR and a .337 wOBA in 2009, good for a 2.1 fWAR. Gardner at least is 26 entering the 2011 season. Lastly, Curtis Granderson is one of the most over-rated players in recent memory. Granderson's fWar by season, starting in 2006 which was his first full season in the league: 3.7, 7.4, 3.5, 3.0, 3.6. To steal a line from Sesame Street, one of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn't belong. Granderson is 30 years old entering the season and in a perfect world should NEVER see a pitch against a left handed pitcher, EVER.

    The NY outfield does have the potential to repeat last season's success and be an above average unit although I believe that is the best case scenario. For that to happen Swisher will have to replicate his career year (possible but not likely), Granderson what appears to be his career true talent level (likely) and Gardner his MLB leading UZR defense (unlikely). If any of those three requirements are not met you are looking at an average outfield.

    onecent - Tuesday, March 29 2011 @ 11:26 AM EDT (#231801) #
    As a light, entertaining read, this post was good. But I was looking for some analysis (something like the analysis provided by Hodgie about the outfielders - thanks BTW)and all I got was opinion. I agree with AWeb. The Yankees on paper have tp enter the season as one of the favourites to at least be playing in October. The question is the potential downside. Rivera, Posada and Jeter have been key contributors and if they show signs of their age, the impact could be substantial. The other issue is there is not much upside. Looking at their roster I don't see anyone who could be a pleasant surprise for them.
    Chuck - Tuesday, March 29 2011 @ 11:50 AM EDT (#231802) #

    But I was looking for some analysis... and all I got was opinion.

    You could always ask for your money back.

    AWeb - Tuesday, March 29 2011 @ 11:58 AM EDT (#231804) #

    Last year, the mean fWAR for qualified outfielders in MLB was 3.05 with only slight fluctuations from year to year previously

    The key word there is "qualified" - there were about 28 qualifiers last year in the AL, three of which were the Yankees trio, all of whom were in the top half of qualifiers. By team, AL outfields averaged 8.7 WAR, with the key jump between the Yankees (13.2 WAR, in fifth) and the White Sox (7.7, 6th). These numbers (from fangraphs) also include qualifiers by position, so "OF" ends up with more than 3 players worth of playing time in a lot of cases, but the Yankees had a top-5 OF by virtually any measure, and got a significant piece of that from three separate players. Limiting a look at position to qualifiers generally only looks at the top end of the league. So an average qualifier is typically well above average league-wide. Of course, the Yankees OF replacement options aren't so hot, so like most places, they are any number of different injuries from a major downgrade.

    The lack of upside is striking with this group, as mentioned. It reminds me of a lot of the Jays teams of the last decade, actually, except being a level higher to start. Burnett is the one spot where things could get a lot better this year, but who knows with him?

    zeppelinkm - Tuesday, March 29 2011 @ 12:01 PM EDT (#231805) #
    Chuck: His comment was not particularly harsh and was polite. Critical feedback should be welcomed on a site that carries itself like this. If you disagree I think the best course of action is to move on rather then "fight fire with fire."

    Mick: What about Phil Hughes supposed lack of velocity this spring. Just talk or something to be concerned about? I mean, if he goes down or regresses significantly... That's going to hurt a lot.
    ayjackson - Tuesday, March 29 2011 @ 12:29 PM EDT (#231809) #

    Mick: What about Phil Hughes supposed lack of velocity this spring

    Surely you're just kicking Mick while he's down.

    Kelekin - Tuesday, March 29 2011 @ 12:35 PM EDT (#231812) #
    The Jays rotation to start the year doesn't exactly inspire confidence right now either.  One could argue Cecil is having the same issues as Hughes (and Hughes' fastball regularily sits higher than Cecil's) for starters.

    While you may not like Swisher, he would, in 2011 context (not career-wise) be a more effective corner outfielder at the plate than Rivera and likely Snider (although again, not career-wise, just this year), and Granderson is an all around threat when he is on his game.  And Brett Gardner? He spent most of last year batting 9th, and in almost double the place appearances batting 9th instead of 1st, he managed to have almost the exact same number of stolen bases from each spot.  He is a 60 SB threat from lead-off and I'll take him over Davis anyway.

    Perhaps this reads as a "Jays v. Yankees" comparison, but I definitely fail to see how uninspiring their offense is at the very least. 
    Mick Doherty - Tuesday, March 29 2011 @ 01:01 PM EDT (#231817) #

    Mick: What about Phil Hughes supposed lack of velocity this spring

    Everything I've heard on this subject is that the Yankees aren't worried about it, so  I figured it was no story; of course, what else are they going to say? If he goes into May with an ERA of 16.88 or something, that'd be just another hit to the rotation. I probably shouldn't have written that I couldn't find anything negative to write about Hughes, but between Mickey Lolich Not-so-light II (CC) and The Frustrator (AJ), maybe I was trying to NOT be too negative.

    onecent - fair enough, but historically speaking ... this is my 895th story on Da Box and what I'm writing right now is my 2,595th comment, and in all that, I've written about  seven words of "analysis." So, no, I'm not that guy (and don't want to be.)  I do think I open lots of doors for other Bauxites who ARE good at such things -- like Hodgie, above -- to present analysis.  Batter's Box is an extraordinary online community, and to be that, we need instigators, responders, reactors (those last two are actually quite different), researchers, the whole deal. We are fortunate that we have just that kind of mix.

    Dave Till - Tuesday, March 29 2011 @ 01:17 PM EDT (#231820) #
    I think that Mick is being a bit too pessimistic here. The Yankees' offense should keep them in third place. The Jays are moving in the right direction, but I can't help but think that this will be a bit of a speed bump year for them.

    But, in the longer term, the Yankees might well be in trouble. For years, they've maintained their squad by signing two or three top free agents every year, or by trading for other teams' expensive players in mid-season - effectively serving as kind of an insurance policy for baseball. (You don't want to pay Abreu any more? We'll take him!) But baseball's financial picture appears to have stabilized: other teams can now afford to sign free agents (hello there, Mr. Lee) or keep their best players (hello there, Mr. Bautista). The Yankees can no longer rely on a consistent stream of players with six years of service who have suddenly become too expensive for their old clubs.

    And the Yankees are old. Do you know how many players on their roster are at age 27 or younger? I count three: Gardner, Joba, and Phil Hughes. Their infield will turn 35, 37, 28 and 31 this year (yes, even Cano is now past his peak). Granderson and Swisher turn 30 this year.

    The starting pitching could turn into a giant black hole. Sabathia is great, but he makes David Wells look svelte; at some point, health issues might catch up with him, and he'll be 30 this year too. Hughes is young, but there are questions about him. Burnett is on his way down the slippery slope; he'll be 34 this year, and he's never really been anything other than a thrower (though, at times, a magnificent thrower). His "here it is, try to hit it" approach won't work if he loses something off his fastball or his curve. And, after that, it's prospects, suspects, and once-weres.

    The bullpen has three good pitchers; after that, I dunno.

    And the Yankees are on the hook for so much money. They are already committed to paying $123 million in salaries in 2013, and $66.5 million (roughly the Jays' current payroll) in 2015. (By way of comparison: the Jays are committed to $27 million for 2013: $14 million for Bautista, $7.5 million for Romero, and $5 million for Lind.)

    The Yankees apparently do have some prospects, and, hey, Rivera could pitch until he is 50. I wouldn't bet against him. But the Yankees will now have to do the sort of heavy lifting that other teams have to do: bring up prospects and endure their growing pains. They're especially not used to doing this with starting pitchers. It will be a significant adjustment.

    John Northey - Tuesday, March 29 2011 @ 01:59 PM EDT (#231825) #
    Thought I'd do a numbers check on the Yankee outfielders.

    LF: Gardner: Age 27 season, his 3 years in the majors are OPS+ of 53-87-106. His AAA stats are 280/391/385 over the equivalent of a full season. A good leadoff man, but playing at a power position. If you are Tim Raines or Rickey Henderson then you can be a LF with low power, but otherwise it doesn't work too well.

    CF: Granderson: Age 30 season, his last 2 years were OPS+ of 102/109 but the 2 years before that were 135/123 leading to a lifetime 113. Very solid in CF. Weird for the Yankees to have 2 speed demons in the OF.

    RF: Nick Swisher: Age 30 season, his last 3 were 92/122/130 OPS+ with a 116 lifetime mark. Since the age of 25 he has had 4 120+ OPS+ seasons and that 92.

    That is a decent OF. 2 guys with speed who should OPS+ in the 100-110 range and a power guy in the 120-130 range.
    Mike Green - Tuesday, March 29 2011 @ 02:38 PM EDT (#231830) #
    I can't agree at all about the Gardner numbers, John.  He is exactly the kind of player OPS+ significantly misses on.  The weighting of OBP to slug ought not to be 1-1 or anything close to it, and that is the major reason that OPS+ misses on Gardner whose OPS is OBP-heavy.  The other thing is his terrific stolen base efficiency.  Put those things together and you have a career wOBA of .341 and career RC+ of 107.  In other words, he is a noticeably above-average offensive player.  When you combine that with defence that is about as good as Carl Crawford's, you have a championship-quality talent. 

    Kelekin - Tuesday, March 29 2011 @ 03:22 PM EDT (#231833) #
    And one more thing on Gardner - he WAS the CF before they got Granderson who is known for playing great defense.  You aren't going to push the big name bat you just brought in in favor of a guy in his first real Yankees season.
    Hodgie - Tuesday, March 29 2011 @ 04:09 PM EDT (#231838) #
    Gardner is interesting and I am intrigued to see whether he is able to sustain last year's level of performance. As Mike Green stated his offensive value is almost entirely SB and OBP driven, the latter of which is largely a result of a career 11.4% walk rate. With a career .268 batting average, Gardner needs to maintain that walk rate as it is doubtful he will ever hit for a high average and most definitely will not hit for any power (career .100 ISO). Last season he was a noticeably above-average player (wRC+ 122), the season prior he was not (wRC+ 100).

    According to UZR his defense in 2010 led MLB and was at a level that Crawford has only approximated once and Ichiro three times in his career. The question will be whether Gardner is closer to 2009 (9.3 UZR) or 2010 (21.9 UZR) or settles somewhere in between.

    Going forward it would seem that Gardner needs to maintain double digit walk rates and sustain his current base stealing and defensive prowess. Any regression in any one of those areas and he becomes a useful player but certainly not the 5.4 fWAR player that he was in 2010.

    uglyone - Tuesday, March 29 2011 @ 05:53 PM EDT (#231847) #
    ignoring injury for now, let's see how the "troubled" Yanks' compare to the "awesome" Red Sox based on last year's numbers:

    (using my projected "optimal" orders and rotations...well, if not optimal at least easiest to compare)

    I like to use wOBA for hitters - I'll use last year's wOBA then add career numbers in brackets:

    1) LF B.Gardner (27):  569pa/.358  (994pa/.341) ----- CF J.Ellsbury (27):  84pa/.237  (1513pa/.343)
    2) RF N.Swisher (30):  635pa/.377  (3754pa/.357) ----- 2B D.Pedroia (27):  351pa/.377  (2470pa/.366)
    3) 2B R.Cano (28):  696pa/.389  (3732pa/.356) ---- LF C.Crawford (29):  663pa/.378  (5395pa/.347)
    4) 1B M.Teixeira (31):  712pa/.367  (5350pa/.388) -----  1B A.Gonzalez (29):  693pa/.378 (3631pa/.369)
    5) 3B A.Rodriguez (35):  595pa/.363  (10206pa/.396) ----- 3B K.Youkilis (32):  435pa/.419  (3292pa/.386)
    6) DH J.Posada (39):  451pa/.357  (6763pa/.369) ----- DH D.Ortiz (35):  606pa/.380  (6661pa/.388)
    7) CF C.Granderson (30):  528pa/.346  (3424pa/.357) ----- RF J.Drew (35):  546pa/.346  (5867pa/.382)
    8) C F.Cervelli (25):  317pa/.315 (423pa/.304) ----- C J.Saltalamacchia (26):  30pa/.296  (899pa/.307)
    9) SS Jeter (36):  739pa/.320  (10548pa/.371) ----- SS M.Scutaro (35):  695pa/.319  (3798pa/.320)

    UT) E.Chavez (33):  123pa/.268  (5405pa/.350) ----- D.McDonald (32):  363pa/.342  (519pa/.321)
    OF) A.Jones (34):  328pa/.364  (8173pa/.353) ----- M.Cameron (38):  180pa/.321   (7615pa/.346)
    IF) E.Nunez (24):  53pa/.328  (53pa/.328) ----- J.Lowrie (27):  197pa/.393  (579pa/.334)
    C) R.Martin (28):  387pa/.306  (2713pa/.337) ----- J.Varitek (39):  123pa/.324  (5589pa/.337)

    Pretty even performance wise, and more surprisingly - pretty even age wise.  Heck, the old Yanks seem to even have the health ADVANTAGE in this comparison.

    Now for the pitching...(starters using only AS STARTER numbers, relievers using only AS RELIEVER numbers - except for long relievers Colon and Wakefield, I use both)

    I'm torn between FIP and xFIP. I'll go with xFIP for now.

    1) C.Sabathia (30):  237.2ip/3.63  (2127.0ip/3.77) ----- J.Lester (27):  208.0ip/3.18  (764.0ip/3.74)
    2) P.Hughes (25):  174.1ip/4.17 (315.2ip/4.43) ----- C.Buchholz (26):  173.2ip/4.07 (360.1ip/4.06)
    3) A.Burnett (34):  186.2ip/4.49  (1770.0ip/3.76) ----- J.Beckett (31): 127.2ip/3.86  (1528.2ip/3.59)
    4) I.Nova (24):  36.2ip/4.20 (36.2ip/4.20) ----- J.Lackey (32):  215.0ip/4.15  (1716.0ip/4.02)
    5) F.Garcia (34):  157.0ip/4.41  (1929.2ip/4.17) ----- D.Matsuzaka (30):  153.2ip/4.54  (585.1ip/4.46)

    Sox have a clear advantage here based on Lackey > Nova. But other than that, not sure there's a heckuva lot of difference. And Nova might just be pretty decent, anyways. And once again, surprisingly, there's no real age advantage for the Sox here either.

    CL) M.Rivera (41):  60.0ip/3.52  (1150.0ip/3.01) ----- J.Papelbon (30):  67.0ip/3.56  (349.0ip/3.19)
    SU) R.Soriano (31):  62.1ip/3.62  (352.2ip/3.46) ----- B.Jenks (30):  52.2ip/2.54 (341.2ip/3.20)
    SU) J.Chamberlain (25):  71.2ip/3.19  (131.2ip/2.90) ----- D.Bard (26):  74.2ip/3.46  (124.0ip/3.36)
    MR) P.Feliciano (34):  62.2ip/3.77  (372.1ip/3.78) ----- D.Wheeler (33):  48.1ip/3.72  (579.0ip/3.99)
    MR) D.Robertson (26):  61.1ip/3.66  (135.1ip/3.50) ----- M.Albers (28):  75.2ip/4.32  (203.1ip/4.64)
    MR) B.Logan (26):  40.0ip/3.97  (167.2ip/4.34) ----- D.Reyes (34):  38.0ip/4.48  (360.2ip/3.98)
    LR) B.Colon (38):  62.1ip/4.71  (2076.2ip/4.27) ----- T.Wakefield (44):  140.0ip/4.70  (3071.2ip/4.76)

    Hmm. I'd take the yanks' pen here, I think. And again - surprisingly - the Sox don't hold any age advantage here, either.

    I find it interesting how these two teams are viewed heading into this season - the Sox are looked at as a healthy, in prime, superdeep powerhouse, while the yanks are looked at as an old, battered, hole-riddled roster on the way down.

    It doesn't add up for me. I see two pretty similar overall teams here., both with loads of talent but plenty of age, health, and bounceback-related question marks right through the roster.  The Red Sox have an advantage in the starting rotation, but that mostly comes down to a comparison between an expensive vet who struggled last year (Lackey)  vs. a rookie starter who had a very nice year at two levels last year (Nova).

    I give the Sox the edge heading into the season, but not a huge one.

    Mick Doherty - Tuesday, March 29 2011 @ 07:22 PM EDT (#231856) #

    Great post, uglyone, and again, I hope you're right.

    The one minor detail you got wrong -- Martin absolutely starts fror the Yankees over Cervelli behind the plate. That bears no effect on your napkin-back conclusions, though. Well done!

    Ron - Tuesday, March 29 2011 @ 09:50 PM EDT (#231859) #
    Fans/Critics have been saying for 7-8 years now that the Yankees are too old and have pointed out the doom and gloom scenarios. I like the Red Sox better on paper but the Yankees roster isn't exactly lacking high end talent. You should never count out a team that has one of the best 25 man rosters, one of the best farm systems, and owners who aren't afraid to spend money. Unless injuries start to pile up, the Yanks will be playing meaningful baseball in September.

    TamRa - Wednesday, March 30 2011 @ 02:35 AM EDT (#231871) #
    I'd love to see that comparison expanded to include the Jays and Rays...
    Lee John - Wednesday, March 30 2011 @ 01:30 PM EDT (#231890) #
    "Brett Gardner is a nice player, too, over in LF, though his stick is just okay (.268 career) and he has little power (eight homers in 852 career AB so far). Truth be told, his best asset is his speed"

    And his plate discipline. Last year: .277/.383/.379. Not much power, I grant, but that OBP has tremendous value.

    "Okay, the OF looks like it could be -- could be -- league average."

    You mean, if someone gets hurt and they have to resort to propping up Andruw's rapidly decomposing corpse out there for an extended period? Sure. Otherwise, consider the OPS+ numbers:

    Swish Career: 116
    Swish 2010: 130

    Granderson Career: 113
    Granderson 2010: 109

    Gardener Career: 93
    Gardener 2010: 106

    This does not even account for the significant value that Gardner, at least, contributes on the basepaths. All are solid-average or better defenders. I think you are severely underestimating the NYY outfield; if all starters are healthy, they would have to massively underperform to get down to league-average...
    Mick Doherty - Wednesday, March 30 2011 @ 02:07 PM EDT (#231893) #

    severely underestimating the NYY outfield

    Probably. But like the prop "question-asker" in the story says, Yankee fans are spoiled byd ecades of GREAT outfielders.  Bobby Murcer, multiple All-Star, was seen as an underachiever and traded. (That's not even accounting for his greatness as a person, just as a player.) Yeah, Yankee fan expectations of the OF are probably a little warped ...

    92-93 - Wednesday, March 30 2011 @ 02:58 PM EDT (#231904) #
    Is this an early April Fools joke?

    The Yankees had the #1 offense in baseball in 2010 and that's despite injury-riddled years from ARod & Granderson and with Jeter having a very uncharacteristic year, declining way more over the course of a season than can be attributed to age. Losing 130 innings from Pettitte isn't going to make this team drop 10-15 games in the W column, and it's still very likely that either Pettitte himself returns or the Yankees target a #2/#3 in trade come July.

    Numerous scouts have been saying all spring that the Yankees look a heck of a lot better than the Red Sox, and I have no reason not to believe them.
    AWeb - Thursday, March 31 2011 @ 07:38 AM EDT (#231935) #

    Yankee fans are spoiled by decades of GREAT outfielders

    Considering that the past 15 years (current Yankee era) has had 1 OF that lead te team in WAR (Williams, 1995, so actually 16 seasons ago), that's long-term dedication to being spoiled by something they haven't had (which wouldn't be that strange for sports fans, I guess - I'm looking at you, Leafs fans). Not sure how to define a great OF, but I'm curious what the last one that qualified, in the mind of a Yankee fan? Either as a player or as a unit?

    Mick Doherty - Thursday, March 31 2011 @ 11:59 AM EDT (#231948) #

    Fair point.

    It's true that the greatest Yankee OF all played before I was even born ...

    • 1960s and earlier: Ruth, DiMaggio, Mantle, Maris, Henrich, Combs, even Keeler. (four HOF)

    But consider ...

    • 1970s: (All All-Stars) Murcer, Bonds, Rivers, Jackson, Piniella (one HOF)
    • 1980s: (All All-Stars) Winfield, Henderson, Baylor, Griffey (two HOF)
    • 1990s: (All All-Stars) Barfileld, Williams, O'Neill, Raines, Strawberry , Barfield, Justice, Tartabull (one should-be HOF)
    • 2000-10: (All All-Stars) Matsui, WIlliams, Sheffield, Mondesi, Justice, Matsui (no obvious HOF, one possibly)

    You know, you're right, That's a GREAT list compared to most franchises, but it's not as holy-cow as I thought it would be.

    bpoz - Thursday, March 31 2011 @ 12:25 PM EDT (#231950) #
    I like what you wrote Mick. Certainly things can go wrong for them.

    SP :- In a 10 year career only once did CC start under 30 games, 2006... 28 games started, and all 10 were good years. Maybe he makes it 11 seasons and starts 34 games. If other teams young pitchers can regress, then why not P Hughes.
    Pen :- It looks V Good. But if the SP does not perform then the pen gets over loaded with work. This could happen.
    Offense :- It could be as good as ever. I don't know if they can make a really big improvement. Maybe 50-100 runs better would be a big improvement.
    Defense :- They are only 1 year older. Maybe it stays the same, which is ranked as good I suppose. I am not sure but R Cano made an incredible play against the Jays last year, I hope he does not hurt himself if he has to do that often this year.

    They are going to make trades in-season for sure. BAD contracts... welcome to NY. And every year someone trades a stud starting pitcher... CC, Lee & Oswalt come to mind. I wonder who Cleveland has available.

    You have a good track record regarding the NYY. So I am sticking with you. No Playoffs & a win total in the mid 80s.

    The best part if this happens could be reading the comments of the Yankee fans. The polite ones that is. Um... the comments not the fans.

    Just wondering if FOX TV will televise more or less games if the NYY are bad.
    Mick Doherty - Thursday, March 31 2011 @ 12:47 PM EDT (#231951) #

    And every year someone trades a stud starting pitcher

    True. Just this morning on Mike & Mike I heard the Yankees are already talking to Seattle about Felix hernandez. That would tear apart a strong farm system, of course, but probably worth it.


    Thomas - Thursday, March 31 2011 @ 01:26 PM EDT (#231953) #
    True. Just this morning on Mike & Mike I heard the Yankees are already talking to Seattle about Felix hernandez.

    I'd be surprised if Seattle is talking back.

    AWeb - Thursday, March 31 2011 @ 01:58 PM EDT (#231955) #

    You know, you're right, That's a GREAT list compared to most franchises, but it's not as holy-cow as I thought it would be.

    That's a list of OFers who played for the Yankees who were also once All-stars - only some of them were for the Yankees. The best players there, Henderson, Raines, Sheffield - not "Yankees". I'll give them Winfield. But...Tartabull, Griffey, Barfield, Mondesi, Strawberry, Justice, Baylor - none of these were AS with the Yankees, and none would be considered "Yankees". Bobby Bonds did make the AS team with the Yankees, but was only there one year. Rivers I dont' recall, but he played longer with other teams. I just noticed, actually - is anyone on that list from the Yankees system? Aside from Williams, is Gardner already the best Yankee OF to graduate from their system since the 1960s? I'm probably missing an obvious name...

    Mike Green - Thursday, March 31 2011 @ 02:23 PM EDT (#231958) #
    ...not really.  Dan Pasqua and Roberto Kelly aren't exactly burning down the doors of the Hall of Fame.  I like Gardner's chances of having a better career than Kelly.

    The Yankees' pattern is to develop just a few high-end talent pieces, from Pettitte, Posada, Rivera, Williams and Jeter to Cano and Hughes.  They do hold them, though, and then buy the rest.  When they don't develop their own high-end talent, they usually are a very good club but not a dominant one.  To a great extent, their success in the aughts was due to their haul in the 90s and the longevity of those players.  It appears as though the aughts were not as successful from a development perspective (at least so far)...

    Mick Doherty - Thursday, March 31 2011 @ 04:52 PM EDT (#231961) #
    Roy White!
    Mick Doherty - Thursday, March 31 2011 @ 04:55 PM EDT (#231962) #

    Granderson swings .... there's a looong drive ...

    Yankees win! Yankees win! Theeeeeeuhhhh Yankees WIN!

    Step 1 of 162-0 (actually, 173-0)  is in the books ...

    Lee John - Thursday, April 07 2011 @ 01:07 PM EDT (#232289) #

  • 1990s: (All All-Stars) Barfileld, Williams, O'Neill, Raines, Strawberry , Barfield, Justice, Tartabull (one should-be HOF)

  • Rock? Amen.

  • 2000-10: (All All-Stars) Matsui, WIlliams, Sheffield, Mondesi, Justice, Matsui (no obvious HOF, one possibly)

  • I can understand not liking the guy, but Sheff is a HOF for me, by any reasonable standard. The only thing that could keep him out (other than utter cluelessness on the part of the voters, which should never be underestimated) is the slight BALCO involvement, but he certainly isn't in as far Bonds in that regard, and I think he makes it eventually.
    Mick Doherty - Thursday, April 07 2011 @ 03:15 PM EDT (#232302) #
    Lee, fair point, I think and hope Sheff gets in -- he's the "pssibly" I mention, of course) but crossing his attitude with the whiff of PEDs, and I think he falls off the ballot in four or five years. Again, I hope I am wrong.
    Lee John - Thursday, April 07 2011 @ 05:09 PM EDT (#232318) #
    Mick, I agree that's certainly possible, though it would be a travesty. You're right, I forgot to consider Sheff's rep for a surly personality; sportswriters do tend to heavily favor players who are nice to them. Yet one more reason why nothing of any importance should be left up to the BBWAA...
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