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2007 New York Yankees Team Preview

by Tony Aubry, BaseballEvolution.com
February 23, 2007


2006 Record: 97-65 (First Place - AL East Division)
2006 Runs Scored: 930
2006 Runs Allowed: 767
Pythagorean 2006 Record: 95-67



Another year, and another disappointment in Yankee land. In 2006, the Yankees once again failed to complete their mission: to win a World Series. 2006 was really no different from 2005, actually. Great offense, so-so pitching in the regular season, and they lacked timely performances in the postseason. In 2005, Randy Johnson spit it up in game 3, and did the same in 2006. Mike Mussina failed to hold a lead in game 5 of the 2005 ALDS, and failed to hold a lead in game 2 of the 2006 ALDS.

Will 2007 be a three-peat of the previous two seasons? With a somewhat revamped rotation, and some youth, Yankee fans can only hope not.

Catcher

2006 Starter-Jorge Posada

2007 Starter- Posada

I was really surprised to see that Posada rebounded from his sub-par 2005 performance in 2006. That being said, I doubt heíll duplicate his Ď06 production in í07. Posada will turn 36 this August, and I highly doubt heíll match his 123 OPS+ and 23 HR, but he should still be one of the better offensive catchers in the league, nonetheless. Another thing that surprised me was how he performed defensively. Posada had his best season behind the dish last year at age 35, which is very rare, to say the least. Look for him to be average behind the dish this year, with a slightly lower CS% than last year.

Prediction- .268/.358/.460

First Base

2006 Starter- Jason Giambi

2007 Starter(s)- Doug Mientkiewicz, Andy Phillips

This is probably one of the worst first base platoons Iíve seen in a while. Doug is a first baseman with a career .405 SLG, and just imagining Andy Phillips at the plate makes me cringe. In 263 PA, Phillips made 198 outs! I understand Cashman wants to get a better defensive team, but the signing of Mientkiewicz was a real bad one.

Overall Prediction- .250/.297/.390

Second Base

2006 Starter- Robinson Cano

2007 Starter-  Cano

Cano was the best offensive second basemen in the league last year, and the second best overall. The upside is that he is just 23, and his best years should still be ahead of him. The downside is that he is below average defensively (who isnít on this team?), and my 80 year old grandfather walks more than he does. Canoís ability to walk some what improved in 2006. In í05, his BB% was 2.9, and in í06 it was 4%. Yes, I know, itís not even worth mentioning, but hey, itís better than nothing.

Prediction- .320/.359/.485

Third Base

2006 Starter- E-Rod

2007 Starter-  A+-Rod

I say A+ Rod because I really anticipate a monster season from him. Hopefully the Jeter issue is out of the way, considering that he addressed it on Monday, and hopefully it wonít be brought up anymore this season. If Alex Rodriguez can realize how damn great he really is, he should have another MVP type season. Also, his inability to throw the ball to first on a fly last year was more mental than anything. If A-Rod can get off to a hot start offensively, his defense should be fine.

Prediction- .295/.402/.532

*note- A-Rodís average HR distance was the longest in the majors last year. This could be a sign of an increase in HR for 2007.

Shortstop

2006 Starter- Derek Jeter

2007 Starter-   Derek Jeter

For once in his life, Jeter didnít win an award that he deserved. The Captain enjoyed his best season since 1999, and once again, his poor range some how improved. Jeter should enjoy another good season, but anything like í99 or í06 shouldnít be expected. Almost 60% of Jeterís balls were hit on the ground, and he had an incredible .394 BABIP. I donít want to take anything away from him, but in order to hit almost .400 on balls in play, when 60% of them are GB involves some kind of luck.

Prediction- .312/.380/.445

Outfield

2006 Starters- Johnny Damon, Melky Cabrera, Gary Sheffield, Bernie Williams, Hideki Matsui, Bobby Abreu

2007 Starters- Matsui, Damon, Abreu, Cabrera

This is probably the best offensive outfield in the league. Damon is a great table setter, and should continue to pad his power numbers in Yankee stadium. Bobby Abreu will continue to be force, and I expect his power numbers to return to normal. Yankee Stadium has had a LH HR park factor of 118 over the past 3 years, and that should help him hit 20-25 HR. Matsui should have a great season. Although his í06 playing time was limited, his BB% and FB rate were both up, which leads to more HR, which leads to more productivity.

Overall Prediction - .296/.390/.495

Designated Hitter

2006 Starter-  Jason Giambi

2007 Starter-  Giambino

Over the past couple of years, Giambi has become a very streaky hitter, but still one of the better hitters in the league nonetheless.  As soon as you realize that BA isnít everything, you realize how valuable he really is. He is a virtual lock for a .900 OPS barring injury. Since Giambi will be DHing, the odds of him breaking down late in the season should decrease.

Prediction- .260/.425/.530

 

Top of the Rotation

2006 Starters- Wang, Mussina, Johnson

2007 Starters- Wang, Mussina, Pettitte

Wang needs to strike more people out; plain and simple. I know itís easier said than done, but just about nobody has had a good career with a below average K rate. And to say Wang has a below average K rate is an understatement. You would think Wang would strike out more guys since he can throw a 94+ MPH fastball and a slider in the high 80ís that is down more often than not. Hopefully the Ks will come this year.

I think the issue with Pettitte and Mussina is health more than anything. Both have had elbow problems in the past, but both were healthy last year and enjoyed solid seasons. Pettitte will be switching leagues, but he, like most LHP, should benefit from Yankee Stadium. Look for them to both be solid in í07.

Prediction- 45-26 3.90 ERA

Bottom of the Rotation

2006 Starters Ė Jaret Wright, Cory Lidle, Aaron Small, Shawn Chacon

2007 Starters-  Carl Pavano (Iíll believe it when I see it), Kei Igawa, Philip Hughes(?)

There really isnít much to say about Pavano. I really doubt heíll start more than 20 games, and I doubt heíll be effective in those 20 games. Iím not really sure what to expect of Igawa. Iíve never seen him pitch, nor does he have any minor or major league numbers to analyze yet.

Obviously, the big deal is whether Hughes will be called up or not. Hughes is probably the top pitching prospect in the world and has dominated every league he has played in with some extraordinary K/BB ratios. If he does get called up, I doubt heíll be any worse than Pavano or Igawa.

Prediction- 32-20 4.46 ERA

Bullpen

2006 Starters- Mariano Rivera, Kyle Farnsworth, Scott Proctor, Ron Villone

2007 Starters-  Mo, Farnsworth, Proctor, Luis Vizcaino

Mariano should be Mariano once again if healthy. Proctor made a name for himself last year, and should be able to enjoy another good season with a plus fastball, and a good curve to boot. Farnsworth is probably the biggest question mark. It has never been stuff with him. Last year he suffered multiple back spasms which caused him to be very streaky. He does walk too many guys, but if he can stay healthy, he should be better than what he was last year. The deal for Luis Vizcaino added some depth to an already solid bullpen.

 

Final Word

On paper, this team is probably the best team in the AL and the only team that can probably challenge them in all of baseball is the Dodgers. There is no doubt this team will make playoffs, the only question is whether they will advance in the postseason or not. Clutch hitting and pitching is what it will take, something the Yankees have been lacking.

 




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