New York Yankees: Sustainable Success?

Many fans in New York are probably still in shock over the Yankees’ early expulsion from the 2011 playoffs. The truth is, though, that the dynasty is waning. That’s not to say that it’s over, by any means, but the unstoppable juggernaut of years past has been affected by Father Time.

The majority of the players that make up the team’s core are over 30 years old, including C.C. Sabathia, Mariano Rivera, A.J. Burnett, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Nick Swisher. Even Curtis Granderson, a breakout 2011 player, is already 30. Although it’s hard to fathom, within a few years Rivera, Posada, Jeter, and even Rodriguez will be retired from the game.

What does this mean for the Yankees? Is there an existing core of somewhat youthful players that the organization can use to rebuild – or perhaps renovate is a better word – its dynasty.

The Veteran Warriors

I become more and more convinced with each passing season that Rivera is a robot. The soon-to-be 42-year-old closer continues to dominate opposing hitters with his 92 mph cutter, which he threw 87% of the time in 2011. He’s been incredibly healthy, with at least 60 games pitched during the past nine seasons. Your guess is as good as mine as to when his batteries are going to finally run out but he may very well chose to hang up his spikes before his declining skills force him into retirement but it’s surely within the next few seasons.

I recently read in a New York paper that Jeter, 37, redeemed himself in 2011 with a bounce-back season. His WAR rating of 2.3 – the lowest of his career – would disagree. Sure, he hit for average at .297, but he displayed little to no power (.092 ISO) and has trouble getting around on a good fastball. He’s a very smart baseball player so there is no doubt that he can continue to perform at a slightly above-average rate for a few years to come but the days of thinking of him as a star player are over.

The youngest of the foursome at 36, Rodriguez has seen injuries chip away at his effectiveness on the field. Since 2007, he hasn’t played in more than 138 games and played in a career-low (since becoming a regular in ’96) 99 games in 2011. After 13 straight seasons of posting ISO rates of .200 or more, he dipped to .185 and his wOBA was the lowest of his career as a big league regular at .361 wOBA. Rodriguez is still a good baseball player when he can get on the field, but he’s not playing at the same star level that he once did.

Out of the quartet of tenured Yankees stars, Posada is certainly the first player to see his skills eroded to the point where he’s not really a useful everyday ball player anymore. The years of squatting behind home plate have taken their toll on the 40-year-old and he appeared in just one game as a catcher in 2011. He finished with a negative WAR at -0.4. Posada has no defensive value, he cannot hit left-handers and he posted a .233 wOBA away from Yankee stadium.

The Changing of the Guard

It’s hard to believe that the Texas Rangers organization once chose Joaquin Arias over Robinson Cano as a player-to-be-named-later in a trade. It’s a testament to the work that Cano has done to turn himself into a star player – and quite possibly the most talented player for the most powerful franchise in Major League Baseball. It also goes to show what being around quality baseball players like Jeter can do for a player’s career. Cano, 28, posted his second straight season with an ISO rate above .200 and produced his third straight 20+ home run season as a second baseman. With other performances on the team slipping in recent years he’s taken on the role of run producer and his driven in 100+ RBIs in two straight seasons, including a career high 118 in 2011. Add in the fact that he hits more than .300 each year and you have an offensive force to build around that should be able to maintain his output for quite some time – and quite possibly take a run at an AL MVP award – if he can stay healthy.

Mark Teixeira, 31, has not been the leading offensive force that the club thought it was getting when it signed him to a lucrative eight-year, $180-million contract. He’s signed through 2016 at $16 million a season. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a very good player but he hasn’t been the 5-7 win player that he’s paid to be, in part because of very low BABIPs over the past two seasons. On the plus side, he’s produced eight straight 30+ home run and 100+ RBI seasons. In New York, Teixeira is a very good second fiddle but he’s not a guy that you build the offense around.

Prior to the 2010 season I predicted (in writing no less) that Granderson, 30, would become a breakout star in New York. He didn’t make me look that smart last year but he finally realized his potential in ’11. He probably won’t ever hit for a consistent average, but any time you get a 40-20 season from a center fielder you’ll take it. A left-handed hitter, it’s expected that Granderson would hit well in his home park but he had an identical wOBA of .394 in New York and on the road. His ISO rate was .301 vs .280. As this was also his second seven-win season of his career, it seems unlikely that this was a fluke season; more likely it was the case of a good hitter maturing into a very good hitter.

Sabathia is a horse. The 31-year-old southpaw has pitched at least 230 innings for the past five seasons, and his highest FIP during that time was 3.54 (highest ERA was 3.37). He produced the second-highest strikeout rate (8.82 K/9) of his career in 2011 and posted his third seven-win season in the past five years. The issue with Sabathia, though, is that he can opt out of his contract this off-season and pursue a larger contract elsewhere. I find it hard to believe that he won’t be wearing pinstripes in 2012 but stranger things have happened and this remains a huge question mark that needs to be answered quickly, as it could shape the club’s entire off-season approach.

The organization has shed some young pitching talent over the past two years that it may have given up on a little too soon (Ian Kennedy, Tyler Clippard, Mark Melancon) but it wisely held onto David Robertson. Although pitchers such as Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes have had more hype, it could be Robertson, 26, who eventually replaces ‘Rivera The Robot’ in high-leverage situations with New York. The right-hander had one of the most dominating seasons by a reliever throughtout the Major Leagues in 2011. He posted a 1.84 FIP (1.08 ERA) in 66.2 innings and struck out batters at a rate of 13.50 K/9. He also improved his ground-ball rate almost seven percent to a career-high 46.3 GB%. One thing Robertson does need to work on is his control (4.73 BB/9). If he can continue to command his fastball-curveball combination like he did in ’11, the Yankees could have the best one-two punch in the late innings in the American League for the next few seasons.

The Other Guys

We’ve touched on the key players but the Yankees 25-man roster has a lot of depth to it. Outfielder Brett Gardner, 28, had a nice season but he’s a little over-hyped and is more of a complementary player whose key attributes are his speed and defense (which UZR absolutely loves). What he doesn’t do, though, is hit for average or power. With so much of his value tied up in his speed (both on the base paths and in the field), his skills will erode quickly once he starts losing a step or two.

Nick Swisher is a handy player to have on a ball club because he can play all three outfield positions (some better than others) as well as first base. He also gets on base a lot and is good for 20+ homers and 80+ RBI. At 30 years old, he should still have a few good years left in him.

Like Gardner, Ivan Nova‘s success was probably a little over-hyped in 2011. Let’s ignore the win column since it’s a product of his environment and turn our attention to his FIP of 4.01 (3.70 ERA), strikeout rate of just 5.33 K/9 and hits-allowed rate of 8.87 H/9. None of those stats scream “No. 1 or 2 starter!” Unless he learns to better command his secondary offerings, Nova is probably a solid No. 3 or 4 starter in the American League, which would still be a valuable pitcher.

Chamberlain and Hughes have been two of the most talked about young Yankees pitchers in years and both have struggled – in large part due to injuries – to realize their full potentials. At this point, neither pitcher should be counted on to be more than complementary players.

The Future in the Bronx

For whatever reason, the New York Yankees organization has shied away from being a major player in the amateur player draft. Perhaps it’s because the club finds the international market to be more lucrative. Or perhaps the front office is tired of being burned on players such as Gerrit Cole, Andrew Brackman, and C.J. Henry. Or maybe the Yankees truly believe that their player development staff can turn coal into diamonds with raw athletes like Cito Culver, Mason Williams, Angelo Gumbs, and Greg Bird.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say the minor league system has fallen on hard times, but it’s definitely not the deepest in the Majors. In the past, and for quite some time, the organization was known for having one of the best systems in Major League Baseball. There are a few high-ceiling prospects but the majority of the players are probably future trading chips.

The two best arms are, and by a wide margin, starters Dellin Betances, 23, and Manny Banuelos, 20. Betances reached the Majors in 2011 but pitched just 2.2 innings. He spent the majority of the year in double-A and but struggled with his control (4.70 BB/9) in 105.1 innings. Those issues got worse during a small sample size in triple-A. He’ll need more work before he’s MLB-ready but may end up in the bullpen long term. Banuelos also struggles from control issues (4.91 BB/9 in AA) but is three years younger and has a higher overall ceiling. Like Betances, the lefty split the year between double-A and triple-A – but he did not pitch in the Majors.

Jesus Montero, 21, produced some mighty fine small-sample numbers for New York in 2011. You can bet prospective trade partners took notice of his .224 ISO and .328 average (.400 BABIP). It’s quite telling, though, that only three of his 18 appearances had him donning the tools of ignorance – including after the organization clinched the division title. There is already some renewed speculation that Montero will be used to acquire an arm during the off-season. Although his offensive ceiling is much lower than Montero’s, Austin Romine is more likely to be the club’s “catcher of the future.” He probably won’t wow with any one thing that he does, but the 22-year-old catcher should be a big league starter with at least average offense and defense.

Dante Bichette Jr. was the club’s top pick in 2011 and entered pro ball with questions surrounding his unique approach at the plate. The 18-year-old outfielder overcame the question marks to hit .342/.446/.505 in 196 at-bats. His BABIP was an unsustainable .410 but his strikeout (17.1 K%) and walk (12.5 BB%) rates were solid. With his background and pedigree, Bichette Jr. could move quickly through the system for a prep draft pick.

Conclusion

Out of the club’s star-powered quartet, only Rivera remains a true star player. It remains to be seen if Granderson’s ’11 performance was a one-year blip or a sign of things to come. The only true, proven high-level talent comes from Cano, Teixeira, and Sabathia, who could soon test the free agent waters. The organization has a lot of work to do and it remains to be seen if the Yankees’ bankroll can bring in enough talent to sustain the winning ways that fans have become accustom to. Repeat success from Granderson could go a long way to helping New York fend off the likes of Boston, Tampa Bay and Toronto in the coming years. This club just knows how to win and it will probably continue to squeeze out every ounce of available talent from the players on the field.




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect and rookie analysis. He also operates AstrosBall.com and can be reached via email at: marchulet@astrosball.com, or follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

81 Responses to “New York Yankees: Sustainable Success?”

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  1. Brian says:

    Tex is not signed through 2016 at $16M a season…more like $22.5M a season.

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    • Barkey Walker says:

      even then, isn’t 22.5M a 4.5 WAR player, not a 5-7 WAR player

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      • jessef says:

        only if you expect Teixeira to play 150 games every season for the next several years

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      • Antonio bananas says:

        Does it matter how much Tex is getting paid? That’s like if Bill Gates pays me 75,000 dollars for my car (definately not worth that much, not even 1/10th). The difference between 15 and 20 million a year for the Yankees isn’t much. They could afford a team payroll of 300 million if they really wanted to.

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  2. Joe says:

    It looks like you just complemented Swischer on his RBIs? What website is this?

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    • Joe says:

      I think the Yankees can normally replace old players with the best free agents, but probably starting next year or the year after and lasting as long as they have A Rod and M Teix they will be in trouble. I predicted a lot of money will getting very little in production.

      They will probably have CC back but at what cost? The entire team will certainly be worse next year. Lose .5 WAR from 10 people and you lost 5 wins.

      My best guess is squeak into the post season next year, miss it for 2 years after that.

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      • Mikhel says:

        You sir, are forgetting how Núñez helped when Alex Rodríguez was out, and that they have Montero ready. And judging by SABRmetrics, Teixeira is “easily” replaceable.

        Though maybe you have not noticed the Yankees trend to replace old players with their own minor leaguers. In 2011 the replacement came from inside instead of looking for outside help. In 2010 the same thing happened, even in 2009, besides the big names that helped them to win the world series, replacements came from inside.

        Now, it seems that Posada and a catcher will possibly be gone as soon as next season, and their place will be overtaken by two minor league catchers: Montero and Romine. They already have Cervelli but if he can’t play anymore, then it’ll definitely be Montero and Romine.

        If age takes its toll yet again on Jeter and Rodríguez, they have Eduardo Núñez and even Brandon Laird who can field third base and first base, Núñez can patrol 3d, 2d and Shortstop.

        In the outfield they have various minor leaguers ready, though there is no place for them. They already have Gardner who was not even their best OF when they promoted him and paired him with Melky, and decided to delay the promotion of Austin Jackson.

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      • NS says:

        “You sir, are forgetting how Núñez helped when Alex Rodríguez was out”

        Replacement level?

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      • Frank says:

        They will certainly be worse? Because it’s totally impossible that Teixeira has a better 2012 season right? And it’s completely impossible for Rodriguez to have a healthy and productive season right? And young, talented pitchers like Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova can’t POSSIBLY take a step forward in their development right?

        What TEN players in this fantasy world you live in are going to lose .5 WAR? Any other arbitrary numbers you’d like to pull out of the clouds?? Every Yankees player is in his prime excluding Jeter, Rodriguez, Rivera and Burnett. They’ve overcome Burnett’s disasterous pitching with relative ease. You should expect at least league average production from Jeter and Rodriguez at their respective positions, if not more for next season.

        People love to predict when the Yankees will collapse. They’re just too good of an organization. You people are going to have to keep waiting.

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    • GiantHusker says:

      That’s not half as bad as “batting for average.”

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  3. Sean says:

    A-Rod’s retiring in a few years?

    Was that an oversight or do you simply think there’s no chance he survives to 2017?

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    • Barkey Walker says:

      A-Rod looks bad when you compare him to Texas A-Rod, but not when you compare him to other guys in the infield, doubly when you compare him to third basemen (and he CAN field the position).

      It is easy to see his star dimming and forget that it is still really bright. That said, a sub 0.200 iso is a bad sign… roids must be wearing off.

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  4. JM says:

    As long as above average/star players remain available in free agency or trade blocks in more years than not, the Yankees will always see sustainable success.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      This.

      Since when are the NYY relegated to playing with guys they currently employ? When have they ever lived with bad contracts and endured their miserable fate?

      Pick any free agent, what is stopping the NYY from signging them? They could afford to sit a 20M/y player on the bench for 1/2 a year if needed.

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  5. Joe says:

    It’s all good. They will be fine when they sign Matt Kemp and Cole Hamels/Zack Greinke after 2012.

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  6. Slartibartfast says:

    RE: Jeter

    “so there is no doubt that he can continue to perform at a slightly above-average rate for a few years to come but the days of thinking of him as a star player are over.”

    Oh, there is a doubt. If you meant “slightly above replacement” sure, I’ll concede that. But I’ll bet you fiddy bucks right now that he is below average NEXT year, let alone the year after – if average is 2 WAR.

    Jeter is old.

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  7. Brad Johnson says:

    Just one little nitpick, Bichette’s .410 BABIP in the GCL could very well have been sustainable. It would have been more accurate to say that Bichette is unlikely to sustain a .410 BABIP at higher levels.

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    • joe says:

      A great point Brad – a subtle but an important one.

      Given the wide talent level spreads (eespcially low minors), a high or low BABIP may not represent luck or unsustainability. It’s the same thing with pitchers – at lower levels they should not be assumed to regress to .290-.300 BABIP, and a high BABIP may be a sign of some issues for a pitcher at low levels.

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  8. adr3 says:

    Greinke in the bronx would be a trainwreck….. personality disorder plus big stage = something similar to khalil greene

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  9. IvanGrushenko says:

    I thought the conventional wisdom was that fast players like Gardner age better than TTO players like Swisher

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    • Richie says:

      Beat me to it. Fast players age well, do they not? I’ve always wondered, aside from retaining defensive value, does their hitting also typically hold up better than slow players’ does?

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  10. SC2GG says:

    “This club just knows how to win…”

    Sigh. I bet the Yankees are successful because they play to the score, too.

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  11. Mike H says:

    This is going to be a big offseason for them. If they don’t get some younger MLB starting pitching into the system, they’re going to be handcuffed in a couple years.

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  12. Tom B says:

    So Jeter’s 2.3 WAR is a problem, but Gardners 5 WAR (13th in the majors over the last 2 seasons) isn’t real? Come on.

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    • BronxLove says:

      2.1 of Jeter’s 2.3 WAR was acquired after the AS break, after he recovered from an INJURY.

      Sounds like he should be fine for a 4WAR pace next season. This article swings, this article misses.

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      • BronxLove says:

        Which would put him in the top 10 SS’s in baseball

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      • Roody Poo says:

        April and May and June do count. I think he is much more likely to be average than 4-win player.

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      • Matt says:

        I guess no other SS had injuries this year

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      • Tom B says:

        They count Roody, but is Jeter the .200 hitter from April-June (which he never has been) or more likely the player you saw in the second half performing to his career norms.

        He has now officially been average for one half of a season.

        4 WAR is easily attainable for Jeter next year, he is anything but average.

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  13. BronxLove says:

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say the minor league system has fallen on hard times, but it’s definitely not the deepest in the Majors

    Does this guy have any idea what he’s talking about?

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    • CG says:

      Apparently being ranked by several different publications as a top 5 system is not deep enough….

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      • Preston says:

        Yeah I would say that the Yankee farm system is better than it’s been in a long time. I mean seriously since the core four came up the Yankees system didn’t really produce anything. Since George stepped down and Cash took the reins they have finally begun to develop players that can contribute. This is a good trend. But it doesn’t happen overnight. It will take time. If they start producing viable big league talent on a yearly basis paired with their money they will be able to return to their late 90′s dominance.

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      • Jack says:

        yea us yankee fans are really struggling having to root for minor league fodder like montero, banuelos, murphy, sanchez, romine, bichette jr, and mason williams (absolute stud)

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      • Frank says:

        Yeah it sucks having a farm system totally ripe with talent. As much as the media likes to say the Yankees overhype their prospects (other teams don’t?), they’re the same ones who will tear it apart and try to make it seem like it’s not as good as it is.

        On a chat on this site, I saw a writer claim that there were at least half a dozen teams that had 3-4 pitchers as good or better than Banuelos in their system. Really?!?! KC? Tampa Bay? Maaaybe Atlanta (but probably not)?

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  14. John Q says:

    The Yankees are just going to have the raise the payroll up to $230-250 which is quite feasible. Heck, the Yankees could have a $300 million dollar payroll and still make tons of money.

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    • Preston says:

      There are other factors limiting the Yankees payroll. They’re fine being the richest. But if they upped the payroll to 300 million and the second richest team was at say 175, baseball would start making rule changes. So they are trying to walk a tight-rope between gaining an advantage in payroll every year, while not spoiling that advantage in years to come. The Levinsteins seems to think that 215 is currently the magic number.

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  15. Mike says:

    “Many fans in New York are probably still in shock over the Yankees’ early expulsion from the 2011 playoffs”

    Everyone knew Detroit was on a hot streak, not sure where you heard about “Many fans” being shocked. If you want to hear a shocker about what the many fans in NY thought about the Yankees this year, it was winning the division. By no means am I saying what you said is wrong, but I’m just wondering if this is indeed true or just a matter of your opinion. Detroit has the Cy Young winner who is probably unanimous and was projected to pitch 2 times in 5 games if needed, and have one of the hottest hitters in the 2nd half and another MVP candidate in Miggy.

    I wasn’t surprised that the Tigers won the series at all. Of course I’m sure there were several Yankee fans who thought the Tigers would be an easy cake walk to #28!

    If I had to say which fan base was shocked the most of an early departure, it’s easily the Phillies. The Phillies losing in the first round is almost equally as shocking as the Red Sox missing the playoffs.

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    • Preston says:

      Nobody should ever be shocked at losing a 5 game series. If you’re good enough to make it to the playoffs you’re good enough to win 3 out of 5 games against any team. Now that being said I think that the shocking part was that an offense that had been so good all year let them down in a game 5 against Doug Fister. No offense to the Tigers, that’s a really good baseball team, but that particular game was more about missed opportunities and uncharacteristically bad AB’s from the Yankees than the brilliance of the Tigers pitchers.

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      • Mike says:

        I respectfully disagree. While teams may be good enough to make the playoffs, sometimes it can be a matter of luck of w hat division you play in. Did anybody in 2006 expect the 83 Cardinals to win anything in the playoffs that year?

        Sure with the way Game 5 went , maybe it’s a bit surprising the Yankees offense failed. But if you were to tell me pre-series that the Tigers would win in 5 games, I wouldn’t be shocked at all.

        But then again, shocking things happen in baseball all the time, look at the last day of the regular season!

        I’m just saying I don’t buy the fact that many Yankee fans are in shock with the Series loss. Maybe the bandwagon fans but I’m not really counting them as real fans.

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      • Preston says:

        That’s what I’m saying. The series loss is not shocking. The only mildly shocking part might be the way it happened in game five (Brilliant bullpen work, no offense).

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      • gnomez says:

        to Mike: Actually, yes, the 83-win Cardinals were basically the same as the team which had been the best in baseball the previous two seasons, and just experienced a lot of injuries, only to reach the playoffs and find only Isringhausen hurt.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Hey buddy, it’s MY job to point out that the 06 Cards were essentially the same team as the 04 and 05 versions which led the ML in wins (grin), only their #2 starter was lost the year, SS lost for a month, Edmonds lost for 30 games, Pujols lost for April, Izzy lost for the remainder of the season … then they got healthy at the end, and Wainwright filled in as closer.

        The 2011 Cardinals are NOW also a different team than the WC winner we saw for most of the season. Jackson was a major upgrade to the staff and allowed the bullpen to add some pieces with Kyle returning to relief and Scrabble joining the ranks. Seriously, the Rasmus trade changed the season for StL.

        Hopefully after StL bounces MIL, we won;t have to hear about how lucky both the 06 and 11 StL teams were to make it to the WS. The 06 was lucky in the regard that everyone else in the division blew, and the 11 version was lucky in the regard that ATL didn;t want to play in the playoffs. But the quality of team on the field in both 06 and 11 is top notch.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Note: my tone is just joking around.

        I’ve pretty much made it my duty to point out the injuries to the 06 team and the 103 wins in 04 and the 100 wins in 05.

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      • Antonio bananas says:

        I think the 06 Cards team got lucky because they were able to go to the playoffs despite all the injuries because of a terrible division.

        This year they were getting a ton of bounces to go their way. I mean, 3 walks and a wild pitch to beat the Cubs? Chipper Jones loses a ball in the lights because they were adjusted to football and it was so understandable that it wasn’t even scored an error? There was a stretch, I believe it was the Philly/NYM/CHC stretch where the Cards averaged like 4.5 Runs Against and like 1.3 errors/game and STILL went 7-3. Any other team allows that many runs and plays like shit in the field, they go 3-7, cards go 7-3.

        Some times things just go your way and that builds confidence and guys play better. I live in Springfield, Missouri and I hate most Cardinal fans. However, I think the cards will win the world series just because, even though it doesn’t make any sense, they are winning. So I’ve given up trying to explain it.

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      • Frank says:

        “Nobody should ever be shocked at losing a 5 game series. If you’re good enough to make it to the playoffs you’re good enough to win 3 out of 5 games against any team.”

        BOOM. Repeated for emphasis.

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    • Neuter Your Dogma says:

      Agreed. The Yankees losing a 5-game series is unrelated to the proposition that “the dynasty is waning.”

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  16. Bill says:

    A team like the Yankees should be old. They can afford free agents at the their prime, so why should they take time to develop players? The rest of the league is by and large their development system. If they had the worst farm system in the league they would still be OK. The fact that they have produced good players like Cano, Nova, and Robertson is gravy. It helps, but if Soriano had pitched as everyone expected, they wouldn’t have needed Robertson. If Burnett hadn’t flamed out and Lee hadn’t taken less money, they wouldn’t have needed Nova. They will usually get the Lee’s every year.

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  17. Jack says:

    the yankees system is a consensus top-10 system. if anything I thought this article would be praising it and claiming that because of its depth the yankees can sustain success for years to come. two top-20 prospects including one of the best hitting prospects in all of baseball with plenty of high-ceiling guys in the lower levels does not have me too concerned.

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  18. d says:

    Greinke is never going to pitch in NY. I don’t think the Phils let Hamels go either. Kemp, probably. But they don’t need bats, they need arms.

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    • JohnAwesome says:

      You really think they’re going to give Hamels huge money when they’re already paying Howard, Utley, Lee and Halladay huge bucks? The problem with the Phillies isn’t the pitching, they just can’t score

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      • bill says:

        Yes? Philly has shown they can sustain a high payroll for the last few years. They’re going to let a top-20 pitcher walk when they have a bunch of money coming off the books the next couple years?

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  19. Preston says:

    This article talks a lot about the aging offensive players. But seriously, does anyone think this is the Yankees problem? Cano is a premiere offensive player, Gardner has the OBP and speed to be an elite table setter, each is just entering his prime age-wise. Jesus Montero is one of the best young hitting prospects in the game irregardless of where he ends up playing in the field. Neither Curtis Granderson or Mark Teixeira are old. Will they be stars? Maybe, if not they will be solid contributors. If Derek Jeter and A-Rod are adequate or above that seems like a solid team going forward (Eduardo Nunez is a capable caddy for both going forward). I don’t mention Swisher because I think he’ll be one and done as the Yanks pursue Kemp to play RF for the long-term (which would lend even more star power to the offense).
    If there is one thing Brian Cashman has proven to be great at it is constructing a bull-pen. Yes he has never had to worry about finding a closer, but he always finds the Edwar Ramirez, Luis Ayala, guys who contribute to fill out the bull-pen. Having David Robertson, Rafael Soriano and hopefully a healthy Joba Chamberlain to fill the void if and when Rivera retires or falters seems like a pretty good plan B.
    So it’s all about starting pitching. The Yankees have a plethora of Ivan Nova type back end starter candidates in their minor league system. But only the two elite talents, in Banuelos and Betances. This will be a problem next year as the rotation will have question marks. But the 2013 FA pitching class is strong (Cole Hamels, John Danks, Matt Cain and Zach Greinke) and they will pursue an external option if internal options like Burnett, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and MiLers don’t pan out in 2012 (or they might sign someone even if internal options do work out in 2012).
    So if this article means that they Yankees might only be an 85-90 win team next year, that might be true. But it will only be a one year reprieve before they reload and become a 95+ win team in 2013.

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  20. Jerome S. says:

    Yadda, yadda, we’ve been here before. The Yankees we’ll buy a few all-star teams, everyone will be happy.

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    • Preston says:

      Not what I’m saying. We have the core of a good team right now. We have plenty of prospects to be contributors. And we can always supplement it with money. I’m advocating pursuing Kemp, and if we don’t get him bring back Swisher plus one young top of the rotation pitcher, preferably Hamels and Danks. I don’t condone us doing the Steinbrenner, panicking about our early exit and signing the best player available to way above market value because we just have to have them. CJ Wilson has to many flags (age and inexperience) and no available position player seems like an upgrade. So we sit on our money for an offseason. See what we have in our young players and then retool as needed.

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      • Jerome S says:

        Oh I’m in complete agreement. I just believe that the Yankees, like any organization will ebb and flow; however, unlike, say, a mid-level team like the Reds or Rockies, when the Yankees fall on hard times they can just buy some wins.

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  21. Tanner says:

    Unfortunately for the non-Yankees fan (me), the Yankees will be just fine for the foreseeable future. It’s something we all can see. Ability to pick up players others cannot afford and a pretty good farm system, will keep them as contenders. I may talk crap and say they suck but I’ll be the first to admit they don’t and wont for quite a while.

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  22. phoenix2042 says:

    the thing about the yankees is that they have the payroll to absorb the arod and teix signings, as well as giving sabathia another 7 year deal for 20-25mm per year. do you think they had no idea arod or teix or jeter or any other old player would suck at the end of their contract? of course they knew these guys would age. you overpay for the old years so that you can have the really good years at the beginning. thats how big contracts work. you get huge contribution or better win/$ price at the beginning and pay for it later.

    the yanks have a solid minor league system that will provide the backup players like nunez, laird, etc, as well maybe a couple decent starters if some of their high upside pitchers work out. and the yankees are adept at trading prospects at the height of their value for established major league players.

    if they trade montero for a good arm, resign sabathia, have one of banuelos/betances work out, have one of romine or sanchez work out at catcher (and martin in the interim), and stay active on the free agent market with guys like cj wilson, cain, hamels, danks and the like hitting free agency, as well as hitters like kemp, beltran, swisher, they can have a good team. they will get that huge free agent like lee or sabathia or teix every few/several years when they hit the market and reinforce them with good-but-not-great players like swisher or gardner, as well as a couple prospects working out, built around players like cano or granderson and they have a business model that will provide new york with 88-98 win teams (depending on luck, breakout campaigns, etc) every year for about 215mm per year.

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  23. TK says:

    ” Is there an existing core of somewhat youthful players that the organization can use to rebuild – or perhaps renovate is a better word – its dynasty.”

    What exactly do you mean by “dynasty”?

    96-00 – 4 WS titles = dynsasty

    07-11 – 1 WS title = same as 4 other teams

    Calling 2009 a part of the 96-00 dynasty is an insult to the word. Off topic, sorry.

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  24. William says:

    I didn’t realize our system had dropped so far from being in the top 5 in the Majors.

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  25. well says:

    “It also goes to show what being around quality baseball players like Jeter can do for a player’s career.”

    Jeter did not “will” Robinson Cano to become a good player. Its interesting that you picked Jeter when you decided to talk about quality baseball players. You subconsciously have drunk the kool-aid that makes people adore Jeter and attribute all good things to him.

    Also, isn’t a 4WAR season an all-star level? Rodriguez is still quite productive even without playing 150 games/year.

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    • cwendt says:

      Actually, shipping Melky Cabrera off and putting Cano around some “character” guys arguably got Cano to focus on the fundamentals of his defense.

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  26. Antonio bananas says:

    Of course it’s sustainable. If I’m a millionaire and I eat top quality steak every night, it’s expensive, but when I run out i’ll just buy more. Same thing here. who cares when they’re gone. they’ll just have more. They don’t have to worry about rebuilding. just throw enough money at enough guys and it’ll work.

    really all the yankees need to do is, every year, look at the top 5 free agents under 28 and sign them to 5 year deals with an option on the 6th. They’d be fine just doing that.

    You only need to make the playoffs. From there, it’s a crapshoot. If you make the playoffs enough times, eventually you’ll win a few titles.

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  27. cwendt says:

    I find it ironic that on the day the Boston Red Sox FO implodes, there’s an article about the end of the Yankees’ dominance.

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  28. JohnAwesome says:

    So the Yankees had either the best or second best offense in the majors last year despite their leadoff hitter and cleanup hitter being injured for most of the year and they’re going to be adding maybe the best pure hitting prospect in the minors to the DH (which was below average this season) and we’re supposed to believe that this team is suddenly going to fall apart?

    I’ll give you that they have rotation issues but they’re one trade from having CC/Cain/Nova/Hughes/AJ in their rotation next season. I know they don’t line up well for Cain but pick another starter, maybe one from the White Sox and they still look good.

    In 2013, you’d be looking at CC/Cain(or whomever they trade for or sign from the 2013 free agents)/Nova/Hughes/Betences or Banuelos. That’s one legit ace still in his prime, one incredibly solid number 2 who would be a number 1 for many teams, a guy in Nova who throw four pitches for strikes and had a FIP of 4 in his rookie season, Hughes who could either be an average starter or could just be suffering a bad season from being overworked in 2010 and be a strong number 2 type again and then having to choose one out of two top 20 pitching prospects with another year of development. That doesn’t even take into account other trades they could make or the fact that they’ll have guys like Noesi/Warren/Phelps/Marshall/ect banging on the door.

    Basically, this article is very incorrect in many aspects.

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  29. aj says:

    His breakdown of the players was pretty solid. Sadly tho anyone doubting the yankee’s being at very least competitive over the next 3-5years is pretty silly tho. Boston looks to be in deep trouble, O’s are gonna rebuild again, Tor will have trouble getting free agents to play there.

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    • Sultan of Shhhhwwwing says:

      The only way the Red Sox are in “big trouble” is if all of Theo’s poor FA and draft signings and acquisitions over the past 5 years were the fault of others in the FO, which they weren’t.

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  30. William says:

    This article is actually kind of bad. I mean really SI-level, it’s kinda disappointing.

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  31. Dill Wickle says:

    Gardner “a little over-hyped”? Are you kidding me? Honestly? You know how moronic and pretentious you sound writing that? You can spew all the empirical data you want but I guarantee that if the Yankees put him on the block tomorrow, there wouldn’t be a team in baseball who wouldn’t at least try to get the guy in their everyday line-up.

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  32. Matt says:

    Comma and a coordinating conjunction. They’re used together.

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  33. Jon in CUO says:

    Sort of a rough article. Looks like a lot of time was spent putting it together but for some reason it’s just off

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  34. Sultan of Shhhhwwwing says:

    Very informative writeup. The only point missing is that the writer presumes, as many others do, that the Yankees will remain fiscally irresponsible now that Big G is dead. I don’t see it. They didn’t blow away Lee as they did Tex and CC, but instead settled for a pitching staff that should have devolved into utter failure. They also start the powerless Gardner, who, say what you want about his value, could be the most anti-Yankee player I’ve ever seen that team start. But he’s cheap.

    Then there’s their catcher, and did I mention the team’s FO settled for castoffs such as Nova, Colon and Garcia as starters?

    Perhaps the CC (assuming he doesn’t leave for similar money available on the West Coast), Arod, Jeter, Tex, AJ, and even Cano moneys will prove more debilitating than presently believed.

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  35. bono says:

    Atlas! a truthful assessment of the yankees farm system. Tired of over hyped players. Yankee talent evaluaters are not that good. In the last 10 yrs. what has their farms produced? very few quality players at any position Compared to many other teams, and as far as cashman is concerned his track record is at best only average

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    • William says:

      I didn’t realize current farm system ranking was based on what happened in the past.

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    • Frank says:

      Yeah, except there’s a reason the opinion represented in this article is in the minority. Look as hard as you want, you won’t find any credible source claiming the Yankees system isn’t at least top 10… maybe 12th at the lowest but then you’re just splitting hairs. They’re not elite like KC, Tampa Bay and Atlanta but they are in the next tier.

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  36. Tanned Tom says:

    The challenge for the NYY is too blend in younger players so the team doesn’t get old all at once. The players to go, with their ages for next season, are: Ayala (34, already gone), Chavez (34, likely to retire), Colon (39 + 50lbs. overweight should = goodbye), Burnett (35, only 2 years left on the contract, but this guy should be traded even if we have to assume most of his salary, even if we have take Zambrano in return), Feliciano (36, already done, good move Cashman), Freddy Garcia (35, thanks for the good year, but his spot goes to a younger pitcher), Andruw Jones (35, a 4th outfielder should be younger, cheaper and able to hit righties), Marte (37, please don’t bring him back, he can’t stay healthy), Sergio Mitre (31, released, but with this guy you never know he turns up again), Posada (40, very fine career, but it’s over), Soriano (32, age isn’t the issue, attitude is, if he opts out let him leave), Swisher (31 and a great attitude, but a proven inability to hit in the playoffs, he’s tradeable, so they should shop him).
    That’s 12 players off the 40 man roster, most off the 25. i think all these moves will happen except for Burnett and Swisher. They key is whether the G.M. realizes they were lucky in 2011 with the starting pitching, and with the real need to do SOMETHING to preserve Rodriguez’s health. If playing LF is easier physically then move him there, if it isn’t then move him to DH.

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  37. Thomas says:

    Banuelos is totally hyped, of all the pitchers in Kevin Goldstein’s top 50, Banuelos had the worst SIERA of any pitcher other than Mike Montgomery and Jarred Cosart, Montgomery also ranked better for his league than Banuelos. Cosart and Montgomery have much better stuff than Banuelos. People like to justify Banuelos by saying that he’s like Tyler Skaggs, his stuff isn’t great but he’s a sure bet to be a #3 starter, but when they were both in AA, Tyler Skaggs had a 2.22 SIERA, Banuelos had a 4.03

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