Trying to bring a little common sense to the game of baseball. But considering many of the people who read baseball blogs, I'm probably just pissing into the wind.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The New York Yankees preview

What can you say? They’re the Yankees. The highest payroll. The best accumulation of players. The pedigree. The expectations. But are they the best team this year? Who knows? They’re going to be good. They’re going to compete. They’re going to be in it all the way to the end. But how good are they going to be, and will they make the playoffs this year? Let’s take a look:


Russell Martin will be the starter this year, with Francisco Cervalli the principle back-up. Meanwhile, Jose Montero gets another year in the minors. Jorge Posada is the emergency back-up, but if he straps on the gear for more than 5 starts this year, the Yankees are in serious trouble.  They all got on base at a slightly better than average pace, but not much power last year, and even less this year. There is no speed due to Martin’s knee injury, but the defense will be somewhat better this year without Posada behind the plate.

Upside:  better defense

Downside:  no power

Score:  0

First base:

Mark Teixeira again, and that’s not a bad way to go. According to a lot of people, he had a down year, but I’m don’t think too many people would pass up the chance to have what he did, and the Yankees have the talent for him to have a down year. The main question is, will he bounce back? I have to think he will, and even at the level he played last year, I would take him on my team. Not over Albert, but not all of us get him. The main problem “seemed” to be an apparent down year on defense, but I’m not going to let one year ruin a reputation as a good fielder.

Upside:  bounce back year

Downside:  he has hit his peak

Score:  + 1

Second base:

Robinson Cano. And that ain’t bad. The best player on the Yankees right now, and he’s just hitting his stride. Teach him to play short stop and he’s going to the Hall of Fame. Oh wait, sorry. Really no down side here. The best second baseman in the league and only Utley really gives him any competition. But enjoy it while you can, Yankee fans. Boros is in the house.

Upside:  hitting his stride

Downside:  expectations that he’ll become someone he’s not

Score:  + 2

Third base:

Alex Rodriguez. Still better than 90% of third basemen in the game, but he has started the descent. The numbers will be okay and he doesn’t have to be the big dog with all the talent the Yankees have. His defense, while still good, is going to be even more important with Jeter helping him out. The problem is, Rodriguez isn’t getting paid to be above average. He’s getting paid to be the benchmark, and he can’t do it anymore.

Upside:  still better than most of the others

Downside:  the homerun list will start to become a distraction

Score:  + 1

Short stop:

Derek Jeter. And that’s a mistake. He can’t play defense well enough to just the position with his bat, and he can’t hit well enough to justify his position with his glove. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about tradition and legacy players. Jeter is a Hall of Famer and rightly so, and the Yankees needed to keep him. But it’s coming at a cost. He will hurt more than help this year.

Upside:  he has to have a bounce back year

Downside:  he’s done as an everyday shortstop and won’t admit it

Score:  - 2

Left field:

Brett Gardner. Gardner might not be a starter on a lot of championship calibre teams, but that would be a mistake. He’s good. Better than people outside of New York give him credit for. He’ll never be a superstar, or even really a star. That shouldn’t matter, however, because you have to have players at all 9 positions, and Gardner is a good one to have. Leave him alone, don’t mess with his game, rest him against the toughest pitchers, and he’ll get the job done.

Upside:  becomes Tim Raines with better defense

Downside:  he was overexposed last year, and he’ll regress

Score:  + 1


Curtis Granderson. He didn’t have a bad year, but he didn’t have a good year. I don’t think he was quite what the Yankee fans expected, and giving up Austin Jackson for him stings a little bit. Granderson is a good player, but he’s a little fish in a big pond. Detroit suited him, and I’m not so sure the Yankees do. Expectations for more will be a problem if he doesn’t produce, and the call will be for Gardner to move to center. That’s probably not a bad idea, but it won’t go down well.

Upside:  bounce back year

Downside:  he’s not meant to play in New York

Score:  0

Right field:

Nick Swisher. Smoke and mirrors. He’s got the reputation, and he puts up the numbers. But this guy always seems to overachieve, and I always think the next season will be a bust. But it’s only happened once, and he keeps getting it done. Good range and a good arm, but in my mind he’s a first baseman playing right field. He just seems out of position, but I guess he really isn’t. No reason to think he can’t keep getting it done.

Upside:  keeps doing it

Downside:  none really. Even in a down year, he’s still a good player and fits his role

Score:  + 1

Designated hitter:

Jorge Posada and I’m not sure that’s a good thing. He had worse numbers last year than Marcus Thames, and isn’t getting better. To be fair, he caught half the year, and not doing that should be better for him. Keeping him there full-time provides fewer options for the others to DH as a day off, and Posada most likely won’t take it lightly if he loses playing time.

Upside:  becomes a true Three True Outcomes player with some value, ala Jim Thome

Downside:  loses his job and becomes a clubhouse cancer

Score:  - 2

Backup catcher:

Francisco Cervalli with Jose Montero in the wings. No one’s going to mistake any of them for Yogi, but the Yankees aren’t hurting in this department. If Martin goes down, there will be a downgrade in defense, but an upgrade in offense. The loss of defense will hurt more, but the Yankees aren’t going to the playoffs on their gloves.

Upside:  lots, and it looks good for the future

Downside:  three guys for one job and a set amount of playing time

Score:  + 1

Backup first baseman:

Nick Swisher. Unless you want Posada. This will be a problem if Swisher plays a lot of first, and not just because of the loss of Teixeira. Numbers wise they were fairly similar, and the defense will be fine. But if Swisher is playing extended time at 1B, then someone else is in RF, and the Yankees don’t really have a good option there for a lot of at bats. Swisher can get the job done, but it will hurt other positions by him being there.

Upside: no loss if Swisher is there

Downside:  no right fielder, which will hurt even more

Score:  0

Back-up infielder:

Ramiro Pena. Doesn’t really hit, and not an average fielder, but he’s not expected to start more than 10 games at any one position this year. With the Yankees talent, they can afford to have him in more games than other teams, but an extended stay in the line-up will be bad, or force a trade, which won’t help either. At least he switch hits. He’s not going to hurt off the bench, and not going to help in the starting line-up. A filler piece at best.

Upside:  doesn’t start more than 30 games all year as the rest stay healthy

Downside:  he has to fill in for an injured starter

Score:  - 2

Back-up outfielder:

Greg Golson or Justin Maxwell, whoever shows best in spring training. Neither have done anything with the bat, but both are good defensively, and both bat right handed. Who ever it is will get about 30 starts, spelling Gardner and Granderson against some lefties, and giving Swisher an occasional day off. Like Pena, it will be a filler role where any real extended playing time will send the Yankees to the waiver wire.

Upside:  doesn’t start more than 30 games all year as the rest stay healthy

Downside:  he has to fill in for an injured starter

Score:  - 2

Rotation (front 3):

C.C. Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and A.J. Burnett. Good, but not great. This might actually be the Yankees biggest weakness. Sabathia will be good, and Hughes could get even better, but Burnett is a mystery, and no one ever knows what he will do. He’s as up and down as they come. They can’t rely on the Yankees defense, but they can rely on the bats, so they don’t have to pitch shut outs every game out. If they stay within their abilities and try not to overdo things, they’ll be fine.

Upside:  Hughes becomes a star and Burnett has an up year

Downside:  Hughes isn’t that good and Burnett has a down year

Score:  + 1

Rotation (back end):

Ivan Nova, Sergio Mitre and Bartolo Colon. The front three better pitch really well. If you’re relying on these guys to rack up quality innings or wins (or quality starts or the opportunity to win --- your choice), you aren’t going to compete in your division. It just can’t happen. David Robertson should get an opportunity, but won’t. That will hurt.

Upside:  one of them steps up for 150 innings and 15 team victories

Downside:  none. Can’t get any worse than this

Score:  - 2


Rafael Soriano, Joba Chamberlin, Damaso Marte, David Robertson, Pedro Feliciano, and Mark Prior. This is a good pen, and should make Girardi feel better about his rotation. Soriano is a plus, as he can obviously step in for Rivera if needed. That wouldn’t significantly hurt the bullpen, as there are plenty of guys available to throw innings. If they gave MVP to a position, this might be if for the Yankees.

Upside:  if you don’t beat the starting pitching, you won’t win

Downside:  too many innings as the starters falter

Score:  + 2


Mariano Rivera. The best closer in baseball, maybe in history. Soriano is waiting in the wings.

Upside:  Soriano is waiting in the wings

Downside:  Soriano has to close and proves he isn’t as good as everyone thinks. I don’t think this will be an issue

Score:  + 2

Team speed (which includes base running):

Not great, but they run the bases well. Gardner and Granderson can run, and Swisher is good on the bases. The rest are average, or below at this stage of their careers. The Yankees are station-to-station, and long ball.

Upside:  Gardner does his best Ben Chapman impression

Downside:  none, as this team isn’t about speed

Score:  0

Team defense:

Good in the outfield, with reputation at the other positions. Not to say the other positions aren’t good, but they are offensive players who can field, and up the middle is only average, with all of them considered. But the Yankees aren’t there to win Gold Gloves. They’re there to bash your heads in.

Upside:  everyone has a good year with the glove

Downside:  lots of extra outs

Score:  0

Team batting:

It’s the Yankees. Even if most of the players have an off-year, they’re still better than most teams around. They’re going to hit. A lot. And score a lot of runs. This isn’t an area you have to worry about.

Upside:  they set new scoring records

Downside:  they don’t

Score:  + 2

Team pitching:
After Sabathia and Hughes, they should be worried. Right up until the 6th inning, if they can make it that far. The starting pitching isn’t great, but the bullpen will make up for it. All these guys have to do is have good, and not great, years because of the offense. They won’t overly impress anyone, but they won’t have to hide either.

Upside:  the back end starters step up

Downside:  Sabathia and Hughes and the rest blow a fuse

Score:  + 1

Total score:    + 9


  1. Nice little preview. Like the concept.

  2. Thanks. I actually encourage discussion at all times, so if you, or anyone, disagrees with something, I'm always willing to listen. I don't know it all, I just like to think I do.

    That might be an even better tag line.

  3. Hey, I read this whole post and not once did you say the Yankees rule the world and will dominate the 2011 season. Not much of a preview if you ask me.
    Kevin G.
    Unbiased Yankee fan

  4. It's in the subtext. You'll have to read it again.