After spending enough money last offseason to bail out the US economy, the Yankees did what everyone expected, they won World Series number 27. However, the Yankees decided that they weren’t content with the team they had. Instead of keeping the team intact for another run, the Yankees blew up a decent chunk of their team and decided to revamp the ancillary parts.
Key Arrivals: Curtis Granderson, Randy Winn, Javier Vasquez, Nick Johnson
Key Departures: Melky Cabrera, Johnny Damon, Xavier Nady, Chien-Ming Wang
The Yankees lineup last year was literally the scariest thing I have seen in baseball. Teixeira was everything they hoped for, Robinson Cano was brilliant, and even Damon had a fantastic season. There wasn’t really a distinct area where I thought they should make a change. Despite this, the Yankees decided to make changes in the outfield that I see as a big mistake.
The decision to let Damon leave was a terrible idea. I know he isn’t the greatest fielder, but the power he showed last year was a surprise to us all. We all thought that it was a move to get younger, but then they replaced him with Winn, who is basically the same age. The only motive apparent was money, but when has that EVER been an issue with the Yankees?
For as much as I disagree with letting Damon go, double that for trading Cabrera. I think that last years numbers are signs that this kid has a lot of potential. At 26, he is entering his prime and to trade him for Vasquez, who is highly overrated (I’ll go over that in pitching), is going to bite them in the ass.
This was softened a good bit by the trade to get Granderson because he is going to be fantastic. My only issue with Granderson is his value against left-handed pitching. He is fantastic in the field, a unique blend of power and contact against righties, but just awful against lefties. If he doesn’t improve in that facet, you could see him sitting on the bench in favor of a guy Brett Gardner when facing a south-paw.
Other than the outfield, the Yankees lineup is the same ridiculously stacked as last year. A-Rod, Teixeira, and Cano will all be MVP candidates; and while I think you might see a drop in production from Jeter and Posada, they are still dynamic hitters than should be feared, especially in clutch-situations.
The Yankees pitching staff is loaded with big names with great resumes. Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily translate into success. One name you won’t have to worry about is CC Sabathia. He is solid a rock (and as big as a boulder) and is good for 18-20 wins. He eats up innings and is a bullpen’s best friend.
After that, things get sketchy. A.J. Burnett showed he can be brilliant, but also showed he could be God-awful. He is about as mercurial of a pitcher as you can find. As for Andy Pettitte, I am surprised he has been good for this long. I see this as the year that his numbers drop and give the Yankees a rotation issue.
As I said earlier, trading for Vasquez was a giant mistake. Last year’s numbers were an anomaly caused by the opportunity to face the Washington Nationals and New York Mets multiple times. In addition, it is easier to pitch in the National League because there is no DH and teams are more prone to play small-ball. If you want to know what to expect from Vasquez, look at the four years he pitched in the American League. He won between 11-15 games, and had an ERA of around 4.50.
Just like every year over the past few, the X-factor of this rotation is Joba Chamberlain. For the duration of his career, Joba has been restricted to inning totals that people have criticized. The funny thing is that all teams do this with their young pitchers. It is just blown out of proportion because they are the Yankees. I see this as his make-or-break year, with him being successful. I think you will get around 15 wins with a 3.50 ERA. He will step up enough to be in the Yankees playoff rotation come October.
Remember at the beginning of last season when we were talking about how bad the Yanks bullpen was? Doesn’t that seem like forever ago? Mariano Rivera is still the best closer in baseball despite being almost 100. Hell, he was in discussions for the Cy Young award last year as a closer! When you combine him with Phil Hughes as the setup man, you can pretty much chalk up a win if up in the eighth inning.
In addition to those guys, the Yankees also have a pretty solid middle relief. This is a big asset for a staff like the Yankees because they need people to eat up innings when Burnett only lasts four innings, or Joba has to be pulled after five because he threw 130 pitches already. When this happens, guys like Damaso Marte and Sergio Mitre come in handy. They both caught a lot of crap last year for blowing leads in late innings, but having them as middle relievers can be valuable because there is significantly less pressure in that role.
Some people will certainly describe me as a “Yankee-hater” and say that I am horribly biased, and you can say that if you want. The bottom line is that it isn’t true. I will be the first to say that if the Yankees had done nothing over the offseason (resign Damon), they would have won 100 games and World Series 28. I just really thought their moves were dumb.
New York will still score the most runs in the MLB, but not as consistently game-by-game, and I think their pitching could get them into a little bit of trouble. They still will make the playoffs as the Wild Card and have a shot at a World Series, but there are a lot of question marks this year.
93-69 2nd in AL East (clinch Wild Card)