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Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Sweeny: Let It Play Out A Bit Longer Before Passing Judgment On Yanks’ Offseason

All attempts to draw a fiscal Cliff Johnson model sheet on my part have failed. Sorry.

For the Yankees fan, it’s meant a certain amount of handwringing and a lot of “What the #$&% is Brian Cashman doing?” tweets sent my way. The problem, as most fans see it, is that the Yankees are not getting younger and they aren’t getting better.

That last part is certainly half true, and it might be completely true. But it isn’t all black and white, and it isn’t as easy to fix as some folks want to believe.  The problem is that getting younger doesn’t automatically make you better.

...And beyond that, I can poke a few holes in every other AL East team if you want me to:  The Blue Jays are better on paper like the Red Sox and Phillies were two years ago and the Angels and Marlins were last year. They still haven’t won 90 games since their last World Championship in 1993. The Orioles now have the pressure of repeating what they did a year ago when it seemed at times like smoke and mirrors and endless good luck. The Rays have to replace B.J. Upton and James Shields, and will count on Evan Longoria being healthy the whole year. The Red Sox have to go worst to first.

In Cashman’s 15 years as GM, the Yankees have averaged 97 wins a year. And I’m quite certain that I’ve gotten plenty of “What the $#%& is Cashman doing?” questions every year.  It seems, though, that the man has a way of getting his team to October every year, which — as I’ve stated many times recently — is like taking a team to the NCAA Tournament every year. Sprinkle in a few titles and you’re Coach K or Jim Calhoun — a legend.

Listen, I don’t disagree with everything you guys have been saying all winter. I’ll admit that I’m as skeptical of what the Yankees can do in 2013 as most of you. I’m just willing to let it play out a little longer before I make final judgement.

Repoz Posted: January 02, 2013 at 10:11 AM | 19 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: yankees

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   1. John Northey Posted: January 02, 2013 at 11:34 AM (#4336793)
The Yankees are the reverse of the old Devil Rays - until they don't do what they've been doing we'll expect them to keep doing it.

The DRays sucked for a long, long time losing 90+ every season they existed, from 1998 through 2007. In the 2007/8 offseason they changed their name and people were joking that they shouldn't leave Longoria down as him missing a month (so he would have an extra year pre-free agency) as that might cost them the division title - everyone knew they were stacked with young talent and they were a trendy 'surprise' pick in 2007. Well, then the Rays went out and won the division and got to the World Series and have been 90+ in wins every year but one (2009 with 84 wins) since.

The Yankees, on the other hand, have been very good for a long, long time. A 540+ winning percentage every year (87 win pace minimum) from 1993 to today. From 2001 through 2012 they won 90+ in all but one season (2008 with 89 wins and a 3rd place finish, their only non 1st or 2nd since 1992 when they were 4th and sub-500). 95+ each of the past 4 seasons and before each of them people have said they were about to fall apart due to age.

Once the Yankees fail to win more than they lose I'll believe they have aged. Until then though I expect them to keep on winning.
   2. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 02, 2013 at 12:15 PM (#4336833)
Once the Yankees fail to win more than they lose I'll believe they have aged. Until then though I expect them to keep on winning.

Given the gains and losses that the ALE teams have made during the offseason, and given the ages of the key players, I can't see much beyond Aura & Mystique keeping the Yankees out of last place, unless the Red Sox wind up decomposing even more rapidly. I hope I'm wrong about this, but 1965 comes to mind when I look at age and the health of this roster.

I've never said it before, but I think this is the year that we may finally see that collapse. Not to a Truly Awful level unless they get even more key injuries, but to a level where competing for the postseason is a complete fantasy.

1B - a once premier player in decline
2B - the one shining exception to everything else in the starting lineup
SS - call me in June or July
3B - two guys in need of a time machine
LF - a spray hitter coming back from an injury that's taken forever to heel
CF - a TTO hitter supreme whose streaks are matched by his slumps
RF - another time machine candidate
C -- ?????
DH - ?????

Summary: Almost certain production declines at SS, 3B, RF and C. Possible maintenance or slight improvements at 1B, 2B, LF & CF. Total guesswork at DH. Overall decline is as close to guaranteed as you'll get.

SP1 - a second level ace who's the mound equivalent of Cano
SP2 - a solid 38 year old who has to be expected to slip at least a little
SP3 - this generation's 41 year old Warren Spahn, until he isn't
SP4 - a hot and cold power pitcher with a propensity for gopher balls
SP5 - either a wildly inconsistent 2012 pitcher (Nova) or an overweight power pitcher (Pineda) who hasn't thrown an inning in competition since breaking down in Spring Training

Summary: Best scenario: A repeat of 2012 performance levels. Worst scenario: Multiple injury and age breakdown. Most likely scenario: A rotation that gradually shows its age and declines with an unpredictable amount of grace.

RP 1A - Jesus, hoping for a resurrection at the age of 43
RP 1B - solid closer
RP 2 - solid setup
RP below that - the usual mix of unpredictability

Summary: More and more work expected because of age and wear on starting rotation. Better pray for that resurrection.
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 02, 2013 at 12:32 PM (#4336857)
Given the gains and losses that the ALE teams have made during the offseason, and given the ages of the key players, I can't see much beyond Aura & Mystique keeping the Yankees out of last place, unless the Red Sox wind up decomposing even more rapidly. I hope I'm wrong about this, but 1965 comes to mind when I look at age and the health of this roster.

I've never said it before, but I think this is the year that we may finally see that collapse. Not to a Truly Awful level unless they get even more key injuries, but to a level where competing for the postseason is a complete fantasy.


Yet, the best team projections released so far (SG's CAIRO), show the Yanks next and next with TB and Tor, a bit ahead of Boston) in the high 80's for expected wins.

I think the AL East is going to be a dog fight, and 90-92 wins takes it. The Yanks could certainly finish 3rd or 4th, but I think it's more likely they win 95+ than they're below .500.
   4. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 02, 2013 at 12:38 PM (#4336867)
Once the Yankees fail to win more than they lose I'll believe they have aged. Until then though I expect them to keep on winning.


They've definitely aged. Whether they can win with a team this old is the question.

C - ?
1B - Teixeira (33)
2B - Cano (30)
3B - Youkilis (34)/ARod (37)
SS - Jeter (39)
LF - Gardner (29)
CF - Granderson (32)
RF - Suzuki (39)

SP1 - Sabathia (31)
SP2 - Pettitte (41)
SP3 - Kuroda (38)
SP4 - Hughes (27)
SP5 - Nova (26)

RP1 - Rivera (43)
RP2 - Robertson (28)
RP3 - Chamberlain (27)
RP4 - Logan (28)
RP5 - Phelps (26)

It's a very old team, except for the bullpen. Who in that lineup isn't trending downward? Only Cano and Gardner, and they're 30 and 29. Jeter's 2012 was good, but his three-year trend is still down and he's now 39 and coming off an injury.

Also, Gardner hasn't _really_ impressed with the bat, so he will need to hold his defense as he pushes 30 to be an asset. His offense has been fine, but his WAR has been supported by extreme defensive numbers. Do people realize Gardner had 7 WAR in 2010... playing mostly left field and hitting to a .277 EqA? I mean, Bonds from 1988-1998 had half a dozen or so seasons around that WAR level.
   5. Greg K Posted: January 02, 2013 at 12:45 PM (#4336873)
Do people realize Gardner had 7.0 WAR in 2010... playing mostly left field and hitting to a .277 EqA?

I have. That annoyingly makes him one of the top 20 LFers on my lifetime (1990 tp present) rankings due to the WAR per PA component. I really only put players as early in his career as Gardner on for fun, but it's annoying seeing him that high (mostly because he's a Yankee...for some odd reason I'm less annoyed to see Brett Lawrie artificially pushed up the 3B list due to his defensive WAR). I hope he gets a ton of playing time so he falls back to level he belongs (perhaps with Eric Byrnes?)
   6. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 02, 2013 at 12:47 PM (#4336876)
Ray's parenthetical age numbers only reinforce what I wrote above. At this point the Yankees need more than a trip to Earl Scheib's---and that company's not even around anymore itself.
   7. Greg K Posted: January 02, 2013 at 12:52 PM (#4336882)
It's probably just my natural pessimism, but I think the Yankees are better than the Orioles, and while the Jays greatly improved their team, there are still several positions which concern me. Snapper's take in #3 sums up my feelings on the AL East.
   8. The Good Face Posted: January 02, 2013 at 12:53 PM (#4336887)
Also, Gardner hasn't _really_ impressed with the bat, so he will need to hold his defense as he pushes 30 to be an asset. His offense has been fine, but his WAR has been supported by extreme defensive numbers. Do people realize Gardner had 7 WAR in 2010... playing mostly left field and hitting to a .277 EqA? I mean, Bonds from 1988-1998 had half a dozen or so seasons around that WAR level.


I'm always skeptical of defensive valuation, but I recall watching Gardner in 2010 and absolutely believing I was watching a truly great defensive OF at the top of his game. He played quite shallow, but it was almost impossible to hit a ball over his head. His jumps and routes both looked pretty good, but his closing speed was otherworldly.

That was a couple of years and some injuries ago, and I'd be shocked if he's ever THAT good again. But assuming he's healthy and hasn't done an Andruw Jones to his waistline, he should still be a real asset with the glove. No clue whether he'll hit though.
   9. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: January 02, 2013 at 12:58 PM (#4336900)
The AL East this year is interesting in that it's not too difficult to squint and see every single team as a likely to win about 86 games. By that I mean that 86 wins would likely be less surprising than 94 or 78 wins for every team in the division (though I suppose you could except the Red Sox on the low end). I certainly don't expect 5 teams with 84-88 wins, but such an outcome wouldn't be especially surprising and could be a fairly compelling sort of competitive mediocrity.
   10. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 02, 2013 at 01:17 PM (#4336916)
I never make predictions, but here I'll make an exception: The Yanks will not win more than 85 games in 2013, and will finish no higher than 4th in the ALE, definitely behind the Rays and the Jays and quite likely below the O's and the Red Sox. And only about 10% of this prediction is an attempt at a reverse jinx.
   11. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: January 02, 2013 at 01:24 PM (#4336925)
“What the $#%& is Cashman doing?”


Exactly what Hal Steinbrenner wants him to do ...
   12. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 02, 2013 at 01:25 PM (#4336928)
I never make predictions, but here I'll make an exception: The Yanks will not win more than 85 games in 2013, and will finish no higher than 4th in the ALE, definitely behind the Rays and the Jays and quite likely below the O's and the Red Sox. And only about 10% of this prediction is an attempt at a reverse jinx.

I don't know how you can be so sure. I mean, that might happen, but all those other teams have glaring holes too.

I think it's higher than 10% ;-)
   13. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 02, 2013 at 01:31 PM (#4336937)
I just can't see how the Yanks are as bad as the O's. The Orioles scream "regression" and CAIRO has them winning 73 games. I also have trouble seeing how they're worse than the Red Sox. Yea, Cano, Tex and Granderson are declining, but they're still better than anyone Boston has in their lineup.

I put them squarely in third, with around 85 wins.
   14. John DiFool2 Posted: January 02, 2013 at 01:32 PM (#4336938)
Has Cowboy Popup skedaddled from here? A thread like this for him is like a Swiss Cake Roll to...well you know.
   15. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 02, 2013 at 05:11 PM (#4337191)
Given the gains and losses that the ALE teams have made during the offseason, and given the ages of the key players, I can't see much beyond Aura & Mystique keeping the Yankees out of last place, unless the Red Sox wind up decomposing even more rapidly.

The Red Sox have a lot of ground to make up, so I don't see them passing the Yankees, or anyone else in the AL East. While age is a concern, all of the Yankees' Elder Statesmen have given indications of having something left. Losing Swisher hurts, but not that much; and while Martin will also be missed, the Romine/Cervelli/Stewart trio might be a sufficient stopgap until Gary Sanchez arrives in a season or two. It usually comes down to starting pitching, and Sabathia, Kuroda, Pettitte, Hughes, Nova, Phelps & Pineda could be good enough if they can stay mostly healthy. Admittedly, there is more uncertainty about 2013 than was the case in most years of the Yankee Renaissance, but it's a bit early to take the "under" on everyone on the roster.
   16. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 02, 2013 at 05:16 PM (#4337199)
Has Cowboy Popup skedaddled from here? A thread like this for him is like a Swiss Cake Roll to...well you know.

His member profile shows a post this morning. The bat signal must be on the fritz.
   17. Dale Sams Posted: January 02, 2013 at 05:17 PM (#4337200)
Yea, Cano, Tex and Granderson are declining, but they're still better than anyone Boston has in their lineup.


I don't think it's a slam-dunk that those three will have a better year than Pedroia and Ortiz.
   18. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: January 02, 2013 at 05:17 PM (#4337201)
The H Brothers want to sell the team, correct?
   19. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 02, 2013 at 05:23 PM (#4337209)
The H Brothers want to sell the team, correct?

I don't think so, no. They avoided the estate tax by taking their Dad's tax basis when he died. A Sale would trigger a big capital gains hit they don't need to take.

IMHO, they just want better cash flow. They're not willing to sacrifice profit for wins to the extent George was.

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