2009 New York Yankees: Spending Their Way into Contention
BaseballEvolution.com Spring Preview
| Key Transactions |
| Acquired || Pos. |
| C.C. Sabathia|| SP |
| A.J. Burnett|| SP |
| Mark Teixeira|| 1B |
| Nick Swisher|| OF |
| Angel Berroa|| SS|
| Kevin Cash|| C
| Jason Johnson|| SP
| || |
| Departed || Pos. |
| Mike Mussina|| SP |
| Jason Giambi|| 1B|
| Bobby Abreu|| RF|
| Ivan Rodriguez|| C |
| Sidney Ponson|| SP |
| Carl Pavano|| SP|
| Wilson Betemit|| IF |
| Chad Moeller|| C|
| Justin Christian|| OF
| Chris Britton|| RP
by Tony Aubry, BaseballEvolution.com
April 1, 2009
2008 marked the first time since 1994 in which the Yankees
did not reach the playoffs. So in order keep their playoff drought at one year,
what did they do? Well, they did what they always do: throw wild amounts of
money at free agents. Of course, this is nothing new, and many Yankee fans know
that this procedure has gone haywire many times before. While you can nitpick
certain nuances such as a few too many millions spent here, or an extra few
years there, the Yankees for the most part invested their money wisely.
went out and locked up arguably one of the top three or four pitchers in all of
baseball in C.C Sabathia, a pitcher whose repertoire is second to none when
healthy in A.J. Burnett, and a rare breed who can supply both solid offense and
defense in Mark Teixeira. Despite scooping up the top three agents on the
market, the Yankees are in a division where the margin of error is minimal, and
are not guaranteed to play come October.
The catcher position situation for The Yankees is
extremely polarized. On the one hand, if Posada has enough in his right shoulder
for 120+ games, his solid offense matched with Molina’s outstanding defense can
give the Yankees top-notch production coming from the position. However, it
Posada surgically repaired labrum does not hold up, it could very well be
disastrous. Despite Molina’s outstanding work behind the dish, he is someone
that you do not want playing more than once a week, and that is because he
flat-out hits like a 7-year old girl. Molina is a career .239/.276/.339 career
hitter, and throughout his career, he has cost his teams roughly 7 wins with his
Jason Giambi was one of my favorite Yankees and seemed to
hit a homer almost every time I was lucky enough to go to a game. Despite that,
I’d be silly not to recognize the upgrade the Yankees are going to be getting at
first base. Teixeira gives the Yankees an offensive and defensive boost
over Giambi for 2009 and beyond. Over the past two seasons, Ultimate Zone Rating
has Giambi pegged with -2.3 runs, and Teixeira with 9.5 runs.
So finally, as Mr. Glab has been predicting for years, the
other shoe has dropped for the young Yankee second baseman. After three
solid years of offensive production, Robinson Cano’s hack-and-jack swing
combined with his immature demeanor finally caught up with him in 2008. As we
all know, patience is not a virtue with Robinson. His career 4.3 BB% is dismal,
and swings at pitches outside of the zone of 30% of the time.
Also taking a hit last year was his defense, after
improving upon his skills with the glove every year under the tutelage of Larry
Bowa. So, would it be a stretch to say that the departure of Bowa had a great
deal to do with Cano’s worst season in the field since his rookie campaign?
Hardly. It was a well-known fact that Bowa was a no-BS type of guy and
repeatedly was on Cano’s case. His attitude actually got so bad that manager Joe
Girardi was forced to bench Cano last September We all know Cano has the talent
to do well. Despite his poor year, he still sprayed line drives around 19% of
the time and made contact on 88% of his swings. It just a matter keeping his
head screwed on tight enough.
From steroids to hookers, it would be an understatement to
say that Alex Rodriguez had a rough off-season. So maybe it was a blessing in
disguise that A-Rod will being missing the month of April. By doing so,
belligerent fans won’t be at risk of hurting his famously frail psyche by
riddling him with steroid chants.
Last year, two players played with a similar injury: Chase
Utley and Mike Lowell. Both players produced within their career norms, so it
would surprise me if A-Rod will not be able to play well during the time he is
manning third base.
His replacement will be Cody Ransom. Ransom has had limited
playing time in the majors, and has not played more than 100 career games at any
position in the majors, so it tough to tell how good he is in the field as well
as in the batters box. However, Ransom has shown some pop in the minor leagues.
Over the past three seasons in the minors, Ransom has hit 71 homeruns.
A Yankee fan recently emailed a local sports talk show,
saying that Derek Jeter has too much pride to start declining. Unfortunately for
Jeter, he does not live in some parallel universe where the will to win can defy
science. Jeter turns 35 this June, and that is when players start to decline, if
it has not already happened. In fact, Jeter might be showing some signs of
decline already. Jeter slugged a career low .408, but in his defense, he played
with an injured hand throughout a good portion of the season. Despite the old
age and bad hand, Jeter actually went from being a terrible defender at
shortstop in ‘07 to average in ‘08. I’ll be looking forward to see how
performs in ‘09.
Defensively, the Yankees’ outfield has the chance to
do extremely well as long as Girardi leaves his players in the proper position.
And that is Johnny Damon in left, Brett Gardner in center and Xavier Nady in
right. According to UZR, Damon saved 5.7 runs in left, Gardner saved 9.1 in
center, and Nady saved 1.3 in right last season. Offensively, it will most
likely be a different story.
I’d like to voice my opinion on Girardi’s horrible decision
to take Damon out of the leadoff spot. In the past two years Damon has posted
higher walk rates, stolen more bases at a high success rate, and is more fleet
of foot than Derek Jeter, who will assume leadoff duties. If this is a ploy to
force Jeter to hit into fewer double plays, it will only be 100% successful in
the first at-bat. As for the rest of Jeter’s at-bats, Gardner will most likely
making his own outs the majority of the time.
Speaking of Gardner, only a fool would take his spring
training numbers seriously. Gardner has hit 3 HR in spring training, and owns an
OPS north of 1.000. Gardner has only hit 4 HR in his professional career, and
had plenty of cringe-worthy at-bats in his small cup of coffee last year. He
looked overmatched, and often times, flat-out confused. It appeared that he had
lost sight of the strike zone, swinging at only 48% of the balls that had
crossed the plate.
Also returning to planet earth this season will be Xavier
Nady, as if he already hadn’t after coming to the Yankees. Nady enjoyed a career
year at the age of 30, which was so out of touch with his previous performances
that it’s inevitable that he will regress to his old self.
The Yankees did an excellent job of buying low on Swisher,
giving up next to nothing to acquire him. His 2008 season was the polar opposite
of Nady’s; it was much worse than what we would normally expect from him.
Although Swisher is not known for a lofty batting average, his .219 average was
more a product of poor luck than lack of ability. Nady will be the opening day
starter, and the job is his to lose. With a normal BABIP, it wouldn’t surprise
me to see Swisher starting some games in right field.
Yankees Team Capsule|
February 10, 2011 – Andy Pettitte and the Hall of Fame . Does Andy Pettitte belong in the Hall of Fame? His 50.2 WAR ranks 77th all-time among pitchers, just ahead of Rube Waddell, but also just behind Kevin Appier and David Wells. He did lead the league in wins once, but never in any other major pitching category. He's only ranked among the top 10 in his league in ERA three times and has never won a Cy Young Award. Known as a big game pitcher, Pettitte has a postseason winning percentage of .655 and a postseason ERA of 3.83, both of which are right in line with his career averages.
Basically, Pettitte was a good pitcher for a long time who benefited from only playing on good teams and performance-enhancing drugs. If he were elected to the Hall of Fame, it would not only open the floodgates for a dozen superior "Steroid Era" players, but also for other fringe-worthy pitchers such as Appier, Wells, Jimmy Key, David Cone, and Brett Saberhagen.
Hideki Matsui returns as the team's primary designated hitter. Should
he prove healthy this season, he could be an upgrade. Posada, Damon, and
Swisher could each see time in this role as well.
The Yankees’ starting pitching is very similar to
their catcher dilemma, but with much higher upside. If healthy, they will have
arguably the best rotation in all of baseball. If not, things can get rough.
Sabathia is as reliable as a pitcher can be, but after him, things start to get
dicey. Burnett is known for pitching well in contract years and then winding up
hurt throughout his new deal. However, Burnett claims that Roy Halladay taught
him “how to pitch” instead of just throwing the ball. If this is true, the AL
East will be in trouble.
||Joba, Hughes, Pavano
Chien-Ming Wang’s injury last year was fluky, so his health
is not something to be worried about. However, when it comes to pitching, there
is a small red flag. Since 2006, while his strikeout rate has risen each year,
so has his walk rate. This stems most likely from his increasing the use of his
slider. In 2005, he threw it 13% of the time; last year, he threw it 17% of the
time. Wang was getting more swings-and-misses with this pitch than normal, so if
he can control it better - which is likely the more he uses it - we should see
further increase in his K rate.
Much has been made about Joba Chamberlain in recent years,
mostly about whether he should be in the bullpen or not. Without question, he
belongs in the rotation, especially after pitching well last season. However,
the Yankees might have to wait until 2010 until he helps the Yankees to the
extent he is capable of. An injury last summer curbed his inning count, which
will affect his workload this year. The Yankees have made it clear that they
don’t want increase his load by more than 50 innings, which will put him around
150 for 2009.
Andy Pettitte’s bloated 2008 ERA does not tell the entire
story. He improved upon his K/9, BB/9 and his GB rates, but his ERA somehow shot
up a half of run. Expect a bounce back season from the fan favorite.
With or without Joba, the Yankees’ bullpen ERA will
remain a strong point (3.79 ERA, 7th in baseball. Four of their five mainstays
were able to keep their K/9 above 9 and their K/BB ratio above 2 (Mariano Rivera
had a ridiculous ratio of 12.8:1). However, if there was a sore spot, it was
their workload (543.1 IP, 6th). A lot of the Yankees’ starters failed to pitch
deep into games, forcing the bullpen to pitch more innings than wanted. With the
addition of C.C. and a healthy Wang, the burden can be lifted off their
The Yankees won 89 games last year despite a plethora of
injuries. The recent additions of Sabathia, Burnett, and Teixeria would
normally add 5-6 wins to their overall total. However, the AL East is anything
but normal, as it contains the three top teams in all of baseball. It goes
without saying that the division is going to result in a dog fight.
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