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Friday, May 06, 2005

New York Yankees Preview

Where do the Yankees go from here?

When you fail to plan, you plan to fail

I’m not sure who said that, but it applies apparently to the 2005 Yankees. If I had written my 2005 New York Yan-kees preview and turned it on time, I’d look pretty foolish right now. I’d have predicted a march to 100+ wins and deep into October. Now if this team gets there, it will be an achievement, perhaps the crowning one of the Torre administration.

However, the team now stands six games below .500 for the first time under Torre (Last time was midway through the 1995 season, in which, by the by, they made the playoffs. However, the core of this team seems to have aged before our eyes, and at $200 million, there’s little financial flexibility to fix it and with a farm system nearly devoid of upper level prospects, it seems like the sun is setting on Joe Torre and his immortals.

So how did we arrive at this point?  Well, let’s start in the fall of 1998.

The Yankees signed third baseman Scott Brosius to a three-year $15.75 million contract after his first year in pin-stripes resulted in an all-star appearance, a .300 average and a World Series MVP trophy.  This blocked an interest-ing young third baseman in Mike Lowell.

Lowell was shipped to Florida ostensibly for Ed Yarnall, Mark J. Johnson and career minor leaguer Todd Noel, none of whom would make an impact with the Yankees.

That offseason also saw Bernie Williams signed to his current contract – a seven-year, $87.5 million pact – while on the left coast, the Dodgers were busy inking Kevin Brown to an absurd seven-year, $105 million deal.

During the 1999 season, the Yankees signed 17-year-old Wily Mo Pena after MLB voided his contract with the Mets the previous year.

The 1999 team was essentially the 1998 team, minus David Wells and plus Roger Clemens. The team did nothing to improve itself at the deadline, simply reacquiring 1996 hero Jim Leyritz from the Padres in what would become a recurring theme.

In 2000, the team again made very few changes in the offseason, save one. The Yankees dumped Hideki Irabu on an unsuspecting Expos franchise for pitchers Jake Westbrook, Ted Lilly and Christian Parker. The team did shuffle leftfielders, bringing in Rock Raines and Roberto Kelly for looks, but ultimately went with a combination of Shane Spencer and rookie Ricky Ledee in the position.

The 2000 regular season would see the Yankees acquire David Justice in June at the cost of Ledee, Westbrook and fellow hurler Zach Day. The Bombers would make more moves before the deadline, plucking Denny Neagle and Mike Frank from the Reds for Yarnall, Drew Henson, Brian Reith and Jackson Melian. The team would also add Luis Polonia, Glenallen Hill and Jose Canseco during July and August.

After three straight World Championships, the Yanks resigned Paul O’Neill in November 2000, as well as inking Mike Mussina to his six-year, $88.5 million contract.  The Yanks would also hand the second base gig to a young wiry-strong speedster named Alfonso Soriano.

The team would also bring Henson back into the fold, trading Wily Mo Pena to the Reds for the erstwhile Dallas quarterback and Michael Coleman.

The Henson-Pena swap was the first really in a series of moves that would show an utter disregard for the farm system and the future at the expense of the moment.

Later that year, farmhand Damaso Marte would be flipped to Pittsburgh in favor of Enrique Wilson. D’Angelo Jiminez would be sent to San Diego for Jay Witasick. And all those moves, and some remarkable comebacks in the Bronx would be undone by a Luis Gonzalez lineout that Torre managed into a loss in Game Seven of the World Series.

After the Yankees scored 14 runs in the seven game series, and finished a distant fifth in runs scored, the club deemed that it needed more offense.

O’Neill and Brosius retired, Tino Martinez took his bat and ball and went to St. Louis, Chuck Knoblauch took his miserable throws to Kansas City before retiring. Justice was traded to the other New York club for Robin Ventura. Steve Karsay was inked to a four-year, $17 million deal on Pearl Harbor Day, and that wasn’t even the big one.

After narrowly escaping the A’s in the 2001 playoffs, the Yankees signed away 2000 MVP and 2001 runner-up Jason Giambi to a seven-year, $120 million deal adding punch to the lineup.

The team also added John Vander Wal and Rondell White in the offseason to man the corners around Bernie Wil-liams. The Yankees also called up Nick Johnson, an on-base machine to split time between first and DH with Giambi.

During the season, the Yankees added what was supposed to be the next great Yankee ace – Jeff Weaver – in a three-team deal that saw Ted Lilly and minor league outfielder John-Ford Griffin go to Oakland and Jeremy Bonderman and Franklyn German go to Detroit.

To say Weaver was a washout on Broadway is an understatement, as he pitched to an ERA of 4.04 and 5.99 in his time in New York, including two disastrous appearances in the playoffs where in allowed three runs and recorded just 11 total outs.

During the season, the 2002 Yankees had a revolving door in right field, a door that include Enrique Wilson, who anecdotally so butchered a fly ball that the Yankees acquired Raul Mondesi’s silly contract from the Blue Jays for a Double-A reliever of no consequence.

The team flamed out against the Angels in the Division Series, leading to more roster changes.

New York reached deals with Jose Contreras and Hideki Matsui, the two premier foreign free agents on the market in December 2002, as well as signing Todd Zeile and Chris Hammond.

The 2002 offseason also brought Jon Lieber to the team on a two-year contract, with an option for a third year and John Flaherty into the fold. The search for bullpen help also sent Orlando Hernandez to the White Sox for Antonio Osuna.

The Yankees shuffled through 2003, bringing in a variety of relievers (Armando Benitez, Jesse Orosco, Jeff Nelson, Felix Heredia, Gabe White, Jason Anderson) with no real sense of a plan.

The team also ridded itself of Raul Mondesi, by exiling him the desert for David Dellucci, Bret Prinz and Jon-Mark Sprowl, thus opening things up for an interesting platoon of Dellucci, Juan Rivera, Karim Garcia and Ruben Sierra, who was brought back in June of that year.

The trading deadline was also a busy time for the Yankees, swapping top pitching prospect Brandon Claussen and lesser light Charlie Manning to the Reds for Aaron Boone. Boone pushed Robin Ventura out of town, sent to the Dodgers for Bubba Crosby and Scott Proctor.

Bob’s kid was a mess in New York, effectively demonstrating that his 2003 breakout half was completely the result of Great American Ballpark.

Despite its warts, the 2003 team played the great seven game series of all-time versus the Red Sox and then failed again to win the World Series as the upstart Marlins bested them in six games.

More changes were in store for the team, Luis Sojo, White, Osuna and Wells are sent packing. Roger Clemens announced to the world he was retiring, then signed with Houston soon after rotation stalwart Andy Pettitte did.

The team resigned Boone, Wilson, Sierra and Heredia, and made a couple of big trades.

First, the team acquired Montreal ace Javier Vazquez for Nick Johnson, Juan Rivera and lefty Randy Choate. Then the team gave up on Jeff Weaver, getting back Kevin Brown’s ludicrous contract. To soften the blow on the Dodg-ers, the Yanks sent $3 million, Bryan Myrow and current Dodger closer Yhency Brazoban to Los Angeles.

The Yankees did a good job of identifying their 2003 weaknesses and signed Paul Quantrill and Tom Gordon to two-year contracts to solidify the bullpen. In addition, the team was shopping for a rightfielder to provide offense and close the nearly two-year revolving door of Paul O’Neill replacements.

The two front runners were 34-year-old Gary Sheffield and 27-year-old Vladimir Guerrero. After being scared by Vlad’s balkly back, the Yanks signed Sheffield, who has been nothing short of excellent for the Yankees in his time in the Bronx. The Angels signed Guerrero, and all he did was win the MVP last season.

The Yanks brought in Tony Clark and Travis Lee to caddy for Giambi, who while off his MVP-type numbers had put up consecutive 40-homer, 100+ RBI campaigns in 2002 and 2003. Lee would hurt himself and be out for the year and Clark would play nicely, though not spectacularly throughout the season.

In addition, in the offseason, Aaron Boone was released after blowing out his ACL playing basketball in violation of his contract. This opened even more of a sucking chest wound at third base. At about the same time, the Red Sox had tried and failed to reach an agreement to send Manny Ramirez to Texas for Alex Rodriguez.

ARod was coming off an MVP award on a last-place team and was one of the game’s brightest stars and far and away its best shortstop.

Sensing an opportunity, the Yankees moved Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named to Texas for ARod, who stunningly agreed to play third for the Bombers, thus not upsetting recently installed captain Derek Jeter.

The team also signed Kenny Lofton to caddy for Bernie Williams, who was increasingly becoming a defensive liability. 

During the year, starting pitching would dog the team. Mussina would struggle through his worst season in pin-stripes, Brown started well but ran out of gas and predictably got hurt, and upon coming back was horrible, Lieber started poorly coming off Tommy John surgery, but closed well, Contreras would struggle before ultimately being shipped to Chicago for Esteban Loaiza and Javier Vazquez was great in the first half and an utter disaster in the second, leading to comparisons with Ed Whitson and Weaver.

The team shuffled Brad Halsey, Alex Graman, Sturtze, Donovan Osborne and Jorge DePaula before certified Yan-kee hero Orlando Hernandez returned to dazzle batters with a wide array of floating, spinning, dipping, twirling pitches.

The team once again surpassed the 100-win barrier, but by the time the playoffs rolled around, its once rock-solid bullpen was gassed and the team spectacularly collapsed in the ALCS, dropping four straight games to the eventual world champion Red Sox in a seven game series loss.

After the loss, and before this season, the Yankees decided to cut Jon Lieber loose by not exercising their $8 million option on him for 2005. The team also signed pitchers Jaret Wright from the Braves after one good season to a three-year, $21 million deal (the same exact contract Lieber signed with the Phillies)  and Carl Pavano from the Marlins to a four-year, $39.9 million deal.

In addition, the team shipped the malcontented Lofton to Philly for live arm Felix Rodriguez and brought back former Yankee hero Mike Stanton from his exile in Queens, for the low, low cost of Felix Heredia. The Yanks did keep Sierra and Sturtze, but made one big offseason move. Tino Martinez also made a cameo appearance in the Bronx to split time with Giambi, who had a lost year in 2004 and was later outed as a steroid user during the BALCO investigation. The team also inexplicably signed Tony Womack to a two-year contract.

To patch its leaking rotation from 2004, the team went out and got Randy Johnson, whom it had failed to acquire during the season at the deadline. The cost was high – Vazquez, Halsey and minor league catcher Dioneer Navarro.
The team’s backloaded contracts and newly inked ones carried the payroll close to $200 million, which apparently prevented the team from signing the winter’s top prize – Carlos Beltran, a centerfielder who does everything better than Bernie Williams right now, and perhaps ever.

Why go through all this? Just to make Yankee fans crazy? No.

For the building stage of the latest dynasty, the Yankees made moves with a plan, bringing in Paul O’Neill, bringing in Tino Martinez to replace Don Mattingly, etc… for the past two seasons, and even beyond that, the Yankees have had no discernable plan other than to win that day, week, month, year and when that didn’t work, tear up the plan and go in another direction.

Consider, if a few thoughts had been given to the future, the 2005 Yankees would be younger, healthier and proba-bly better.

Don’t like Kevin Brown? Fine, the team sticks with Ted Lilly, who has acquitted himself just fine in Oakland and Toronto as a No. 3, 4 or 5 starter.

Need a new centerfielder? Move Wily Mo Pena from 25th man on the bench into the lineup.

Shaky bullpen? No problem, introducing Damaso Marte.

Giambi not doing it for you? Say hello to Nick Johnson.

Undoing some of the moves the Yankee brain trust made could have yielded this lineup.

C – Jorge Posada (developed by and resigned by the Yankees)
1B – Nick Johnson (not traded to Montreal)
2B – Alfonso Soriano (not traded to Texas)
SS – Derek Jeter (developed by and resigned by the Yankees)
3B – Mike Lowell (not traded to Florida)
LF – Hideki Matsui (signed)
CF – Carlos Beltran (signed over
RF – Vlad Guerrero (signed over Sheffield)
Bench - Wily Mo Pena (not traded to Cincinnati), D’Angelo Jiminez, Bernie Williams, Andy Phillips, John Flaherty

SP – Mike Mussina
SP – Ted Lilly
SP – Carl Pavano
SP – Jose Contreras
SP – Jon Lieber

Bullpen – Jake Westbrook, Zach Day, Paul Quantrill, Tom Gordon, Yhency Brazoban, Tanyon Sturtze, Mo Rivera

The team could also bolster its lineup with prospects like Brandon Claussen, Dioneer Navarro, Robinson Cano and Eric Duncan in the minors.

Now, all teams can do this “what if” game, but in just five years the Yankees have turned over so many players, the question needs to be asked – does the organization have a plan, and if so what is it?

So what of the rest of 2005? Well, there’s one real chip left – Eric Duncan – and a bunch of arms in the low minors, but even if the Yankees wanted to cash them out, most of the top free agents to be at on contenders and unlikely to be available at the deadline. So this team is going to turn itself around on its own merits.

Can they do it? Well, only Jeter, ARod and Sheffield are at their career norms. Matsui and Posada are badly off theirs, but age and track record suggest they probably aren’t completely done. Giambi and Martinez appear to be the walking dead right now – neither of them are hitting well and based on age, track record and leaked grand jury testimony, its unlikely we’ll see them hit like they once did.

Bernie Williams is likely finished. Sad as it is to say, a bad elbow and bad knees make for a virtual death sentence for a skills first, instincts second centerfielder.

QuanGorMo is probably still gassed, and might rebound later this year. Brown can’t get it done anymore, Wright is predictably hurt and has been predictably ineffective when healthy. Mussina has gone from Hall candidate to crafty righty in a shockingly quick manner, but still can be effective. Johnson is old, ornery and apparently missing a foot on his fastball, which shouldn’t hurt him too much (despite what John Kruk says) because Johnson’s always used the heat and Mr. Splitty as compliments to his slider, which he threw 41% of the time last season according to the Bill James Stat Book.

The Yankees need to play .660 baseball from here on out to win 100 games again, which is probably the minimum needed to make the playoffs this year with the Jays, O’s and Red Sox in their division and the White Sox currently playing like a house afire. Right now, its still in the category of unlikely but not impossible.

However, the franchise needs to take a good hard look and decide where its going. What’s the plan, because it has been the failure to plan ahead that’s brought them here.

2005 ZiPS Projections

Name       ERA   W   L   G GS   INN   H   ER   BB   K HR
Johnson*    3.10 19   7 32 32   221.0 194   76   48 246 19
Rivera     3.21   4   2 65   0   70.0   67   25   16   58   3
Flash     3.32   8   4 68   0   76.0   65   28   26   80   4
Mussina     3.73 15   9 30 30   200.0 200   83   41 173 21
Bean       3.89   7   4 54   0   74.0   67   32   30   82   7
Quantrill   4.14   5   4 87   0   87.0   98   40   22   37   4
Karsay     4.17   5   4 70   0   82.0   84   38   28   58   6
Stanton*    4.17   4   4 75   0   69.0   66   32   30   48   5
Mendoza     4.19   5   3 45   2   73.0   81   34   16   43   7
Brown     4.22 10   8 26 25   158.0 168   74   49 108 13
Wright     4.28 10   8 36 24   145.0 152   69   59 115 11
Rodriguez   4.29   7   5 72   0   65.0   62   31   28   56   6
Wang       4.32   7   6 21 21   127.0 135   61   36   89 13
Pavano     4.36 13 11 33 30   198.0 221   96   48 116 20
Proctor     4.56   5   5 56   0   77.0   76   39   33   67   8
Groom*    4.58   3   2 63   0   55.0   61   28   16   34   6
Manning*    4.93   7   7 34 20   126.0 131   69   63   96 12
Small     4.99   8   8 29 22   146.0 170   81   34   92 24
Graman*    5.07   8   9 27 26   151.0 164   85   62 113 20
Borrell*    5.10   5   6 17 16   97.0 111   55   41   55 10
Anderson   5.21   3   4 44   2   57.0   63   33   23   42   8
Marsonek   5.22   4   4 36   6   81.0   92   47   31   51 11
Ramirez     5.25   6   8 21 21   120.0 128   70   45 107 22
Sturtze     5.29   7   9 35 19   160.0 182   94   62   97 22
Voyles     5.31   3   4 34   8   83.0   88   49   41   63 11
Henn*      5.61   5   7 24 24   138.0 155   86   76   86 16
De Paula   5.85   5   7 29 26   163.0 192 106   61 108 32

Name       P   AVG   OBP   SLG   G AB   H 2B 3B HR   R RBI BB   K SB CS
Rodriguez   ss .285 .381 .539 160 618 176 25 3 42 110 118 87 125 20 4
Sheffield   rf .287 .388 .525 149 551 158 30 1 33 100 108 84 66 8 5
Matsui*    lf .293 .384 .481 160 588 172 37 1 24 95 99 87 96 2 1
Jeter     3b .298 .358 .454 148 614 183 37 1 19 105 82 46 99 18 5
Giambi*    1b .252 .394 .493 130 444 112 21 1 28 73 85 91 104 1 2
Posada#    c   .265 .385 .468 140 472 125 30 0 22 72 84 87 106 1 3
Williams#  cf .266 .360 .427 141 534 142 27 1 19 87 75 79 84 3 4
Phillips   1b .265 .329 .490 122 453 120 22 4 24 77 76 40 74 3 3
Martinez*  1b .242 .336 .408 138 458 111 20 1 18 64 76 60 66 2 1
Reese*    cf .266 .323 .404 125 492 131 33 4 9 75 50 38 81 17 11
Jones     lf .212 .288 .428 135 472 100 22 1 26 71 73 47 144 4 4
Vento     rf .257 .308 .407 121 440 113 26 2 12 58 58 30 78 4 2
Womack*    2b .265 .311 .337 140 510 135 19 3 4 71 41 32 61 20 6
Cano*      2b .250 .294 .364 138 503 126 20 5 9 63 52 28 66 4 1
Johnson     3b .258 .346 .397 113 360 93 24 1 8 54 52 47 55 6 4
Porter*    rf .265 .316 .402 123 393 104 24 3 8 48 42 27 100 14 8
Hall       lf .245 .336 .332 120 392 96 13 3 5 78 45 51 71 13 7
Nieves     c   .268 .299 .382 105 380 102 19 3 6 45 40 14 61 4 1
Crosby*    lf .258 .309 .403 99 318 82 16 3 8 40 38 22 58 6 3
Betts*    1b .254 .317 .369 90 331 84 15 1 7 20 34 29 67 1 1
Escalona   2b .247 .292 .354 116 376 93 23 1 5 58 39 20 52 4 1
Sierra#    rf .233 .281 .375 107 317 74 13 1 10 33 46 22 55 2 0
Rolls     3b .242 .296 .347 84 277 67 14 0 5 32 33 17 60 7 3
DePastino   c   .237 .292 .332 86 283 67 13 1 4 28 28 22 53 1 0
Sanchez     ss .239 .277 .298 96 309 74 11 2 1 30 26 15 30 1 1
Parrish     c   .212 .274 .284 73 250 53 10 1 2 25 21 20 52 3 2
Bush       2b .249 .280 .329 70 213 53 11 0 2 29 17   8 40 5 2
Flaherty   c   .233 .269 .366 55 172 40 11 0 4 15 20   8 30 1 2
Tejada     ss .198 .243 .225 83 262 52 5 1 0 30 14 13 53 5 3

ZiPS Projections are not playing time predictors; they
project a player’s performance given playing time in the majors in their
accustomed role. As with all projections, specific knowledge of non-statistical
attributes of the player and role should temper what the computer
says.

 

Sean McNally Posted: May 06, 2005 at 12:08 PM | 28 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. villageidiom Posted: May 06, 2005 at 01:21 PM (#1316245)
We understand George Steinbrenner must be embarrassed, frustrated, and disappointed by his failure in signing Beltran. Unlike the Mets, he chose not to go the extra distance for his fans in New York. It is understandable, but wrong that he would try to deflect the accountability for his mistakes on to others and to a system which provided him much to cheer about over the prior years. It is time to get on with life and forget the sour grapes.
   2. villageidiom Posted: May 06, 2005 at 01:31 PM (#1316261)
OK, that was an easy shot.

Nice work, Sean. I'd thought about critiquing you on two accounts: first, that they might have had less success in the past had they not made some of those deals; and second, that you're cherry-picking the worst deals to undo in hindsight.

But the more I think about it... Given that they would have had to lose another, oh, 9-10 games to have lost a playoff berth most years, undoing many of their trades might not have had an impact on playoff appearances. Maybe they would have been eliminated earlier, or maybe they'd have had one less championship. But even that might be a stretch.

And even if you keep a couple of the clunker deals, you still would have ended up with a sweet 2005 roster.

All that being said, don't count them out yet. There's still plenty of time for them to trade Jeter to the Cubs for Neifi Perez, and turn things around like the Red Sox did last year.
   3. Sean McNally Posted: May 06, 2005 at 02:03 PM (#1316293)
I thought about that village, and here's the thing - it can be pretty successfully argued that the Yanks haven't made a good trade with the exception of David Justice in 2000 since before the 1998 season.

Getting distracted by the shiny bauble of the moment has killed the 2005 team.
   4. Gromit45 Posted: May 06, 2005 at 02:06 PM (#1316298)
No one can fault Georgie for wanting to win every year. What fan (or owner) doesn't want to see their team win all the time?

It has to be the hardest thing for a person like Georgie to accept that he MUST take a couple of down years so he can regroup and restock and then try again. When the world is at your fingertips, one never sees the reason to be patient.
   5. Jay Is Simply Without Words Today... Posted: May 06, 2005 at 03:08 PM (#1316439)
The other thing to keep in mind here is that, at the time, both the Weaver and Vazquez trades were hailed as great moves by virtually everyone, netting the Yankees two stud starters just coming into their prime.

If those two hadn't collapsed in the Bronx, we probably wouldn't be having this discussion today.
   6. Loren F. Posted: May 06, 2005 at 04:17 PM (#1316597)
I agree with Jay on Weaver and Vazquez, as having even two starters who put up, say, Adjusted ERA+ of 110-120 (meaning a little above league average), instead of Brown and Wright would have the Yankees at .500 now. I doubt the Yankees will finish the season with 100 losses, although 80 losses is a possibility.

Still, I don't see Steinbrenner consciously deciding to enter rebuilding mode. The only reason the Yanks rebuilt in the early 90s was that George was banned from the sport. They kinda tried to "win now" even back then -- see Tartabull's record contract in 1992 -- but were in rebuilding mode until 1993 because they needed so many pieces. Maybe the Yankees can Remain Competitive and Rebuild at the same time... My fear is that they turn into the late-90s Orioles, an aging team that allows a couple of postseason appearances to fool them into thinking that they don't need major upgrades to get to the World Series.
   7. Walt Davis Posted: May 06, 2005 at 07:52 PM (#1317195)
100 wins to make the wild card?

Going back to 96, the first full season with a WC, only once has a WC team needed more than 94 wins to qualify (1999 NL with the great Houston/Mets/Cincy race). Only 4 seasons required more than 92. Of the 18 WC teams, only 9 needed to win 90+ games to qualify.

If the Yanks play 600 ball from this point, they'll get to 92 wins. With the fast start of the Sox and O's, that might not quite be enough this year but I am highly confident that 100 wins will not be needed for the WC.

That's not to say they won't get 100 wins.

(Note, I just looked at the next best record to determine how many wins were needed. Obviously if the actual WC team had lost more games, some other teams would have won more games. But there's no good reason to think that more than one of those games would have gone to their next highest rival.)
   8. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: May 06, 2005 at 08:59 PM (#1317501)
I always have a problem when I read articles like this. I always reflexively think back to a Keith Law piece at prospectus where he flatly declared that the Yankees were done. This was written after the '01 series, and before three straight years where the Yanks made the post-season. Though they never won any rings, they came pretty close in '02, and lost one of the tightest ALCSs ever only to see the NL team flounder in the main event.

Yea, it looks like going after vets and shortchanging their farm system has caught up with them and ended the ride. But pointing at the end and saying "See?" reminds me of how I used to always avoid drafting Randy Johnson or Barry Bonds in fantasy baseball -- they'll get old eventually. . . . I'm rambling here because I'm only half (at best) thinking of this article and also thinking of other criticisms read of the Yanks over the years. My point (assuming there is one) is that though this season's mess is the result of Yankee player aquirement policies over the last few/couple years, so were the last season's glories. To me, I don't know if it's a bad trade-off.

the team went out and got Randy Johnson, whom it had failed to acquire during the season at the deadline. The cost was high – Vazquez, Halsey and minor league catcher Dioneer Navarro.

This qualifies as a high cost for Randy Johnson? What?

Giambi not doing it for you? Say hello to Nick Johnson.

That's nice for the 60-70 games he's healthy enough to play in, but what about the rest of the time.

Wright is predictably hurt and has been predictably ineffective when healthy.

For me, things like this are the real issue. It isn't that they've traded away prospects or signed big names, but they've made some senseless signings. Jared Wright in, Jon Lieber out?

The Yankees need to play .660 baseball from here on out to win 100 games again, which is probably the minimum needed to make the playoffs this year

I did all the research on this at b-ref, only to belatedly look up and see Walt Davis already said what I was going to say. All I can add is that the average wins for the winningest team in a league that sits home in October over the last 9 years in 89.1 wins (88.4 in the AL, 89.7 in the NL).
   9. bebop Posted: May 06, 2005 at 10:34 PM (#1317982)
The true cost for Randy Johnson was Vasquz, Halsey, Navarro AND Beltran
   10. Darren Posted: May 07, 2005 at 02:53 AM (#1318964)
I have to agree with the sentiment that you're cherrypicking a bit here, Sean. For one thing, the trade to acquire Weaver was a good one, as was the one to acquire Vazquez. For whatever reason, those guys didn't work out so well.

It's also not fair to reach back to pre-2000 and undo trades and then fault them for not having made any good trades since 2000.

Also, the Yankees' way of doing things is not as flawed as you make it sound. They have won a lot since 2000. There is no need to explain away their failures, because they have won a lot.

I also think you used also a bit too much, also. :)
   11. ncyanks Posted: May 07, 2005 at 01:31 PM (#1319258)
I think that the Mike Lowell trade was probably the start of the reason that their payroll exploded. Instead of keeping a home-grown talent, they decided on the proven veteran. This began a departure of what they had done from 1995-1998. If they had kept Lowell then they wouldn't have needed Boone. If they didn't need Boone, the ARod salary wouldn't be on the books. With Lowell, perhaps the Yankees don't win the 1999 or 2000 WS, but set themselves up better for the future. I think they went away from what was successful and still won in 1999 and 2000, but at the cost of payroll and potential talent. It is a lot easier to fill 2 positions with FA then it is to fill 4 or 5.
   12. frnkbndy1981 Posted: May 07, 2005 at 02:45 PM (#1319295)
I seem to be with everybody else in the fact that it is unreasonable to look at the past transactions (but very fun) and negate them to say "Look at the team they would have now."

This is very simple because some of those deals, like the Weaver and Vazquez ones, were very good deals at the time that did not work out.

Anyways, one move that I found paticularly interesting was the Yankees not resigning Lieber this year, and choosing Jaret Wright.

I wrote an article "spotlighting" Lieber this season, and predicted him to finish slightly better than Wright.

Take a look at it:

http://athomeplate.com/sb2505.shtml
   13. rr Posted: May 07, 2005 at 04:03 PM (#1319356)
I think this was a good piece, and I don't really think Sean was doing it as "look at the teem they could have now" per se. As he said, you could do that with any team. The purpose as I understood it was to use specifics to illustrate the patterns instead of just saying "the Yankees are stupid."

And the patterns are even more obvious this way:
--not concentrating on the margins of the roster
--not trusting farm guys/cheap guys in secondary roles
--staying too long with "Torre guys", both of the Flaherty/Williams varieties.

I think though, you can see the reasoning behind a lot of it until the winter of 2005, when they should have obviously signed Beltran and Ploanco, and re-upped Lieber and brought back Hernandez. Instead, thinking they needed speed and younger SPs, they overcommitted to Wright, Womack and Pavano.

The RJ deal will be second-guessed, but given Johnson's amazing 2004 peripherals, his unique skills and bodytype, and the Yankees' situation, I would have done it too.

As far as what to do now, I think they should try to get a guy who can cover center on the roster somehow, even if he hits like Doug Glanville. It would be weird to punt offense in CF, but the NY situation is unusual and dire enough to warrant considering it. I would then play Williams in left, Matsui in right, and DH Sheffield, benching Giambi and Sierra. Sheffield supposeldy likes DHing. Platoon Martinez and Phillips at first. Break Cano in slowly by letting him split time with Womack at 2b and use Giambi/Sierra/Phillips to do some PHing for them.

BTW, I'm a Reds' fan, not NYY or Bos.

In spite of what McLane said, I still think Clemens might get moved to Boston at the deadline.
   14. S. Ransom Posted: May 07, 2005 at 04:05 PM (#1319358)
ZIPS making editorial comments?

2005 ZiPS Projections

Rodriguez ss .285 .381 .539
Jeter 3b .298 .358 .454
   15. rr Posted: May 07, 2005 at 04:06 PM (#1319359)
Polanco. Although Ploanco is better than Womack as well, *supposedly.*
   16. Colin Posted: May 07, 2005 at 04:07 PM (#1319362)
It has to be the hardest thing for a person like Georgie to accept that he MUST take a couple of down years so he can regroup and restock and then try again

Well, throw in that Steinbrenner is fairly old; he can't necessarily count on having a few years to be patient about rebuilding.
   17. Bosnian Posted: May 07, 2005 at 09:48 PM (#1319955)
The question of A Plan? is more than valid. The most disturbing thing here is not Looking Sideways and its What-ifs? It's the side-stepping here of the shameless $209 million payroll in a league that averages a little more than $70 million (including of course, the Yankees and Red Sox payrolls) and the foregiving tones dancing in the vaccuum of New York and Everybody else.
The mismanagement of the last four years, in light of their $ advantage, is titanic. Loving it.
   18. catomi01 Posted: May 07, 2005 at 10:34 PM (#1319995)
I agree with a lot of the critisms of the yankees on the this site, and have made my fair share of them...but people seem to be forgetting one thing about mike lowell...the man had cancer, and missed much of the 99 season, along with part of 2000 (i believe for the same reason) and it is a pretty big statement on his behalf that he made it back at all...yes, they would be better off right now, but not during those seasons, and faced with an medical concern like this, it seems fairly likely that they would have made a desperation move to fill the hole...especially considering that a lowell injury in those years would have meant entirely too much Luis Sojo and Jim Leyritz, and knowing torre, not enough jimenez and soriano.
   19. The Ghost's Tryin' to Reason with Hurricane Season Posted: May 08, 2005 at 05:55 AM (#1320635)
I don't blame Stein for trying to win every year, but the consequences of trading every half-decent prospect to win in the present has its consequences sooner or later. It looks like perhaps that day has come.

Johnson’s always used the heat and Mr. Splitty as compliments to his slider

Johnson's splitter is a comparatively recent addition to his repetoire. He didn't want to use the pitch earlier in his career, fearing arm damage and feeling he was doing fine with his heater and slider.
   20. Too Much Coffee Man Posted: May 08, 2005 at 12:42 PM (#1320755)
Put me in the "liked it and learned from it" category. I had forgotten how many good young players the Yankees have traded away the past 5-6 years.
I'm in my car now more than up late at night, so XM-Homeplate has replaced BBTN as my source of non-insightful news and analysis. (A few weeks ago, the lead on XM's 20-minute update was a quote from Nick Johnson on his surprise being traded from New York to Montreal.)
What I liked most about Sean's piece is that he traces their problems back 7 years when they a) started signing large long-term contracts that are saddling them with ineffective players now; b) they seemed to change management philosophies.

In contrast, a lot of so-called analysts can't really come up with an explanation for what's wrong other than: a) bad starting pitching; b) bad bullpen; c) Alex Rodriguez. (Mark Gray on XM went on and on yesterday about how Rodriguez played on a last place team in Texas, so it must be his fault. He plays poorly until his team is out of contention then piles up gaudy statistics. Saying that they have bad pitching or holes in their lineup is an observation. Figuring out why it's there is analysis, and you see very little of it in mainstream media.

I'd bet that at least half of even the most rabid Yankee fans COULD HAVE envisioned things this bad, albeit in a worst-case scenario. In contrast, much of the baseball media is watching it unfold and still can't explain why.
   21. Cris E Posted: May 11, 2005 at 04:31 PM (#1328751)
I think part of the problem lately is that George isn't just being the old Super Competitive George we've known for years, but that hemay have some Gene Autry issues going on. He's 75 and wants to win again, now. Someone pointed this out above but I thought it was worth emphasizing: there is little tomorrow for the cabal running the team and they're playing every card right now. Sabean is doing almost the same thing in SF for similar reasons.
   22. David Block Posted: May 15, 2005 at 02:52 PM (#1338163)
ncyanks wrote:

With Lowell, perhaps the Yankees don't win the 1999 or 2000 WS, but set themselves up better for the future. I think they went away from what was successful and still won in 1999 and 2000, but at the cost of payroll and potential talent. It is a lot easier to fill 2 positions with FA then it is to fill 4 or 5.

I should qualify what I'm saying with a disclaimer that I am a Met fan. Nonetheless, I have to strenuously disagree with the above statement.

This is not about Lowell, but about the sentiment in several posts that the Yankees should have done things differently whereby they would have won fewer World Series' in the past for a chance to win more in the future.

No one has a clue what the future will bring. So if you are one or two players away from winning this year and next year, you play to win this year and next year. The Yankees won 3 straight World Series, 4 of 5, and got to the WS 6 times in 8 years. They must have done something right.

Ask Marlin fans whether they would trade in their two Championships for a more future-oriented management. Ask fans of ANY team not located in the Bronx, whether they would be willing to make one or two trades that would sell the future for a Championship this year, and 9 of 10 will say "in a heart-beat." Because we don't KNOW what the future will bring. Ask Thurman Munson. Ask Lyman Bostock. Well you can't ask them, because they're dead, but you get the idea.

Those, of course, are the extreme examples, but there's also Tony Conigliaro, Herb Score, Bobby Tolan and even Sandy Koufax who, because of injury, were unable to fit into long-term plans. And there are dozens of others who, though not in the superstar category, were counted on to be part of a future that an injury negated.

So even though the Yanks are the hated "Evil Empire," they did figure out how to win all those Championships. The Mets -- and for that matter the rest of the teams not residing in the Bronx -- would be hard pressed to figure out how to plan the future so that they win 4 of 5 World Series, or get there 6 of 8 years.
   23. SM in DC Posted: May 17, 2005 at 02:26 PM (#1342928)
The Yankees need to play .660 baseball from here on out to win 100 games again, which is probably the minimum needed to make the playoffs this year with the Jays, O’s and Red Sox in their division and the White Sox currently playing like a house afire. Right now, its still in the category of unlikely but not impossible.

Yankee tracker - since this article was posted, the Yanks have played .900 baseball.
   24. Waldo Posted: May 30, 2005 at 10:27 PM (#1372035)
A note from a non-Yankees fan to Sean and his minions: Don't you look silly now.

The Yankees have been the most successful franchise in the game over the last 10 years (apologies to the Braves). Can you really argue with that after a 30-game rough patch? Let's wait for the season to play out before we write their epitaph.
   25. Sean McNally Posted: June 01, 2005 at 02:02 PM (#1373953)
The Yankees need to play .660 baseball from here on out to win 100 games again, which is probably the minimum needed to make the playoffs this year with the Jays, O’s and Red Sox in their division and the White Sox currently playing like a house afire. Right now, its still in the category of unlikely but not impossible.

Yankee tracker - since this article was posted, the Yanks have played .762 baseball (16-5).

Waldo,
I don't think we look silly at all. This team, despite its success recent, the roster is still horribly put together... which will eventually catch up to them at some point, if it hasn't already.
   26. Gaylord Perry the Platypus (oi!) Posted: July 02, 2005 at 03:07 AM (#1445295)
Yankees record in June:
12-14

This is a .500 team, basically. There's enough talent to win games, but not enough to win enough games.

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