The New York Yankees 2006 Team Preview
by Tony Aubry, Guest Contributor
March 11, 2006


2005 Record – 95-67 (First Place, AL East)

Runs scored: 886

Runs allowed: 789

2005 Pythagorean W-L: 92-70


Last year the Yankees started off to an unusual 11-19 start, and had many people thinking they were “dead”. They picked things up around July and went on to win the division in the second-to-last game of the year. Although they won the division in somewhat of a dramatic fashion, they fell short once again in the playoffs. A-Rod and Sheffield picked up where they left off in the last 3 games of 2004 ALCS and stunk it up on the field.

The Yankees 2006 season will depend mostly on the health of their pitching staff, and they will also need Johnson and Mussina to come up big in October if they want to get past the first round of post season play.

What should expect of the Yankees this year? Well, let’s take a look.

Catcher

2005 starter –
Jorge Posada, John Flaherty

2006 starters – Jorge Posada, Kelly Stinnett

Posada is a perfect example of a catcher on the decline. He had a career year in ’03 and his numbers have plummeted ever since. His home runs and RBI are way down. He batted .262 last year, which was his worst since 1999 (and his worst ever since taking over the full time job behind the plate). His defense looks like it's still there, but that could be dropping soon as well. Look for Torre to rest him more frequently than he has in past years. Although Randy Johnson has said he doesn’t mind who catches him, don’t be surprised if Stinnett catches a good bulk of his starts considering that he has caught him in the past with Arizona.

First Base

2005 Starters – Jason Giambi, Tino Martinez

2006 Starters – Jason Giambi, Andy Phillips

Giambi looked terrible the first two months. He was on the interstate in May batting below .200 with 4 homeruns and 13 RBI. He caught fire in July though, hitting .324 with 14 round trippers and 24 RBI during the month. Now Giambi is 35 years old – Yankee fans shouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t produce this year like he did in the second half of last year, but who knows. Giambi is supposedly training with one of the dudes who trains people in the world's strongest man competitions, you know, the guys who pull monster trucks with their teeth and can’t pick up their arms without getting their heads crushed by their biceps.

Phillips will start once or twice a week and will most likely come in during the late innings as a defensive upgrade.

Second Base

2005 Starter – Robinson Cano

2006 Starter – Cano

Cano was called up last year in May and struggled in his first few weeks. He then settled in and had a pretty good rookie season. He hit .297 last year with 14 home runs and 62 RBI in only 132 games. Cano definitely has some weaknesses. His OBP was only 23 points higher than his batting average, and he struck out 5 times as much as he walked, which is absolutely terrible. Look for Cano to increase his power numbers considering that he missed 30 games. He will either have to cut down on the K’s (won't happen) or walk more – Cano saw less pitches per AB than anyone else in the league. At the tender age 23, Cano should only get better as time goes on.

Third Base

2005 Starter – Alex Rodriguez

2006 Starter – A-Rod

Well, there's not much to say here. We all know the skills that he has and the numbers he’s capable of putting up. I don’t see any reason why that won’t happen again this year. After last year’s game 5 of the ALDS his number shouldn’t be 13 anymore, it should be 5-4-3.

Shortstop

2005 Starter – Derek Jeter

2006 Starter – The “Captain”

Last year Jeter had his usual season He batted a few points above .300, hit 17 homers, knocked in 70, and scored 100+ runs. Again, I don’t see why anything should change. If I hear another idiotic Yankee fan who says Jeter is a natural number 2 hitter and his numbers will increase, you’re wrong. Jeter is only batting 2nd in the first inning! He could lead off another, and bat 7th in another. Also if you say he’s going to have more chances at knocking in runs, you’re wrong once again. You don’t know if he’s going to come up with the bases loaded 3 times or come up with no one three times. Also I’m pretty sure that his .325 days are over.

Outfield

2005 Starters – Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui, Bernie Williams

2006 Starters – Sheffield, Matsui, Johnny “I’ll never play for the Yankees” Damon

Gary Sheffield is a great hitter with a terrible temper. I was sick to my stomach with his “don’t play me” talk. Please Gary, shut up and hit, after all that’s what you’re getting paid for. You probably won’t see a guy hit the ball harder than Sheff (aside from Frank Howard) and no one hits louder foul balls than him, but he is 37 years old. He may not hit like he’s 37 but his number are declining slightly. His .300 batting average is probably gone for good and after this season a 30 home run season could be the next to go.

Hideki Matsui is a great offensive outfielder. His numbers have done nothing but increase since making the transition from Japan to the U.S. He struck out 25 less times than he did in '04, but he also walked a lot less. He should hit more than 23 home runs this year considering that he had a home run drought in May.

Damon is the newest outfielder on the club. I’m sick of hearing guys like Michael Kay and Jim Kaat saying that he’s the next great centerfielder to go along with Combs, DiMaggio, Mantle, Williams (who doesn’t even belong there) when he hasn’t played a damn game yet. Damon will without a doubt be an offensive upgrade from Williams. He’ll get to some balls that Bernie wouldn’t get to, but his arm is no better. Damon will probably get to know Cano pretty well considering he’ll be cutting off 90% of Damon’s throws.

Designated Hitter

2005 Starter – Pretty much anyone that got picked out of Torre’s hat

2006 Starter – Bernie Williams

Bernie is pretty much out to prove that he can still swing the bat. Although he isn’t half the hitter he once was I'd rather have him than Andy Phillips. Don’t be surprised if Bernie starts a game in left or right field once a week, but his main job will be the DH.

Pitching

2005 Front Three Starters – Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, Kevin Brown

2006 Front Three Starters – Johnson, Mussina, Shawn Chacon

Health, health, and health is the key to the staff. Last year’s staff was a joke while the Yankees used about 20 different starters. Brown was a bust and Mussina was hurt.

This year, Johnson looks to have a much better season than when he pretty much guaranteed that he'd win 20 games a few weeks ago in spring training. It is Johnson’s second year in pinstripes and he says he’s more comfortable this year. I’m sure his comfort level played a part in his not-so-Randy-Johnson-like season that he had last year, but he is 42 years old. As long as he’s healthy he’ll be their go to guy. I’d expect a better year but nothing like what he did in Arizona.

Mussina’s biggest issue is health. He too is up there in age, but he still has good stuff when he’s healthy. His velocity on his fastball is nothing like what it used to be, so he has to depend on his location. If Moose can stay healthy and hit his spots with that knuckle curve he should be alright.

Shawn Chacon was one of the saviors of the 2005 Yankee season. He was excellent all year and pitched great in the Yankees' final win of the year. Chacon should be just as good as last year, if not better. He’ll be their ace in a year or two.

Other 2005 starters – Chien-Ming Wang, AL Leiter, Jaret Wright, Carl Pavano, Aaron Small

Other 2006 starters – Wang, Pavano

Wang was pitching great last year until he ran in to some shoulder problems over the summer. He came back in September and started where he left off and pitched a hell of a game in game 2 of the ALDS, but lost due to poor defense. The only things that worries me is his K/BB ratio, but scouts say that should improve this year. Wang should be just as good if his shoulder stays in shape.

Pavano will be a big part of the '06 season. If he isn’t healthy and the Yankees are forced to use guys like Small and Wright, they're going to be in trouble. If he is healthy, he could possibly pitch like he did with the Marlins.

Bullpen

2005 Top Relievers – Mariano Rivera, Tanyon Sturtze, and Tom Gordon

2006 Top Relievers – Mo, Sturtze, and Kyle Farnsworth

Mariano should be himself for at least one more year. If the Yankees don’t bring in Sturtze 5 days a week, he won't suffer from a dead arm by August and should be alright. I don’t care how hard Farnsworth throws; it’s straighter than an arrow and I wouldn’t trust him in the big spot. He will be good, but I don’t see him getting out of pressure-packed innings all the time. Overall, their bullpen is better than last year's, but could still be better.

Final Word

Predicted 2006 Record – 98-64

The Yankees whole season relies on the health of the pitching staff and getting the ball to Mo. Their lineup will be superb, and there really isn't any concern there. If their pitchers are healthy, which could be asking for too much, they have just as good of a shot of going to the World Series as any other team in the A.L.


Become A Sponsor of BaseballEvolution.com
Sponsor a page at BaseballEvolution.com. On a page of your choice, you can place a personalized message, a tribute to a player, or a link to your website!


Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Tony Aubry resides in New York, New York, and can be reached at comments@baseballevolution.com.




Baseball Evolution Features

The Teams Page
Find about all about your favorite team.
  GO
Friends
Yes, we have them. Check out these other fantastic sites.

Hall of Fame
See who's in, who's out, and where we differ from Cooperstown

Splitsville
All kinds of split statistics and what they mean.

Statistics
Your source for stats, conventional and otherwise.

Award Room
All of your award info and analysis right here.

News and Notes
Interesting odds and ends from around the league.

Top 100s
See where we rank'em.

Trivia
Test your baseball knowledge.

Predictions
As the season rolls along, check to see how accurate our 2005 predictions were.

Boneheads
See who's making a lot of money to embarrass themselves writing about baseball.

Heated Debates
We don't always agree with each other.

Scorer's Corner
Keith shares scoring oddities that he has encountered.

Player Nicknames
How we refer to certain players when we're discussing them.

Ballpark Food
What various ballparks around the league should be serving up to the fans.

Scouting Reports
In-depth analysis of high-level prospects.

The Name Game
Put your skills to the test.