Team Preview: New York Yankees

They’re the only team in the league for which a mere ALCS appearance represents a disappointment. The Yankees fell six victories short of their goal, but went into the off-season with a bit of confidence. A bona fide ace, Cliff Lee, was on the market, and Yankee dollars would surely lure him to the South Bronx. When that plan backfired, the off-season was immediately deemed a disappointment. Yet the Yankees again return one of the strongest teams in the league for 2011.

The Starting Nine

Derek Jeter, SS
Nick Swisher, RF ^
Mark Teixeira, 1B ^
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B *
Jorge Posada, DH ^
Curtis Granderson, CF *
Russell Martin, C
Brett Gardner, LF *
* lefty, ^ switch hitter

Despite disappointing seasons from three of their key veterans, the Yankees still boasted the league’s best offense in 2010. This year they return the same group, save for Russell Martin replacing Nick Johnson and the parade of DHs the Yankees employed. That could lead to another year atop the offensive leader boards, but there are certain roadblocks to that scenario.

Most importantly, the Yankees need their three big veterans — Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Derek Jeter — to rebound. With Teixeira that might not be a particularly tall order. At 31 he’s still in his prime, or, at the very least, not far out of it. For three straight seasons, from 2007 through 2009, he produced a wOBA of .400 or greater. Last year that dipped to .367 thanks to a abominably slow start and an injury riddled September. During July (.488 wOBA) and August (.411 wOBA) he produced as the Yankees might expect. He’ll need to do that all season long in 2011.

Jeter and Rodriguez are tougher cases because they’re a bit older. Both experienced their worst seasons in the bigs in 2011, which is always concerning for players in their mid-30s. Both have reportedly worked hard to regain form this off-season, with Jeter altering his mechanics at the plate and Rodriguez working out like a madman. As Joe Posnanski wrote last month, it’s not often we see these players recover. Age is an uncompromising factor for ballplayers, and they can only do so much to stave it off. Yet Jeter and Rodriguez, superstars of the first order, stand a chance if anyone does.

In addition to having three players who had down years in 2010, the Yankees also had two veterans with career seasons. Robinson Cano, always touted as a potential superstar, started his breakout in 2009 and finally came through in 2010. While his batting average remained identical to 2009’s, he raised his OBP by nearly 30 points and his ISO by 15 points. This was all the more valuable because it came during a year when offense as a whole was down. His 6.4 WAR season — which would have been over 7.0 if DRS, and not UZR, were used in WAR calculations — earned him MVP consideration. Cano is currently in his prime, and could certainly reproduce this type of season in 2011.

When the Yankees acquired Nick Swisher in November, 2008, he was coming off a career-worst season. A year later he was celebrating a World Series victory and his best season to date. In 2010 he managed to top that, at least relative to the league. His OBP actually dropped from .371 to .359, but his batting average rose to a career-high .288. That might appear to stem from an inflated BABIP, .335 against a career average of .286, but his xBABIP also rose thanks to a more aggressive approach at the plate. It resulted in a .377 wOBA and 133 wRC+. He might not reproduce those numbers, especially the batting average, but at age 30 Swisher appears in line for another big year.

Curtis Granderson is one of the more interesting cases heading into 2011. The Yankees acquired him after the 2009 season with hopes that he’d rebound to his 2008 — or, if they were lucky, 2007 — levels of production. What they got was essentially the same disappointing player that showed up in 2009. His defense helped him to a 3.6 WAR, but the Yankees were expecting more. Towards the end of the season he worked on his approach with hitting coach Kevin Long and his results improved dramatically: a .401 wOBA in his final 192 PA. That could just as easily be a hot streak, but it’s encouraging nonetheless.

In left field the Yankees have an odd fit with Brett Gardner. That is, it would be an odd fit with most teams, since left field is typically considered a power position. Gardner’s .103 ISO from 2009 was better than just four left fielders, and even then not by much. (That is, except in the case of Juan Pierre, which is just…) But since the Yankees get pop from up-the-middle positions, they can afford to have Gardner patrol left. His production dropped after Clayton Kershaw plunked him on the wrist in late June, but he still managed a .383 OBP for the season, which ranked fourth among MLB left fielders. He can also swipe plenty of bags and plays superb defense, especially when compared to his peers. Since Gardner doesn’t look like a left fielder — or, really, a ballplayer at all — he’ll always have doubters. But if he’s healthy there’s little reason to believe he can’t have another 2010-type season.

At catcher the Yankees have quite an abundance. Acquiring Russell Martin this winter provided them with even more flexibility at the position. They were able to move 39-year-old Jorge Posada off the only position he ever knew and into the DH spot, where his bat should profile well. If the move keeps him healthy and fresh he can certainly hit among the best DHs in the game. That’s a big if, though, considering his age. His wOBA dropped last year, but even that would have placed him fourth among DHs. As long as he doesn’t take another dive he’ll represent an improvement over what the Yankees got out of that spot in 2010.

Martin takes over as the everyday catcher, health permitting. The hip issue that cost him the last part of the 2010 season seems to be behind him, though surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee has led to a slow start this spring. He’s already catching in games, and is on track to be the Opening Day catcher. His bat certainly raises questions, as his production has dropped the past two seasons. That’s where Jesus Montero comes into play. There’s a good chance, now that Francisco Cervelli is out for at least a month, that Montero opens the season as the team’s backup catcher. If he hits and Martin doesn’t, the Yankees probably won’t hesitate to install their catcher of the future. That gives them plenty of room to maneuver with the position in 2011.

The bench this season will likely contain many familiar names who are trying to continue their careers in reduced roles. The Yankees signed Andruw Jones as the fourth outfielder, and he could get starts at DH and in the outfield corners — especially in left field when facing a tough lefty. It also appears that the team wants to bring Eric Chavez north as a lefty bat, third baseman, and first baseman. He hasn’t been able to stay healthy for about a half decade now, but the Yankees are hoping a reduced workload will allow him to perform when called upon.

The Pitching Staff

LHP CC Sabathia
RHP Phil Hughes
RHP A.J. Burnett
RHP Freddy Garcia
RHP Bartolo Colon / RHP Ivan Nova

CL RHP Mariano Rivera
RHP Rafael Soriano
RHP David Robertson
RHP Joba Chamberlain
LHP Boone Logan
LHP Pedro Feliciano
RHP Sergio Mitre

While the outlook for the Yankees offense appears positive, it isn’t so rosy for the starting pitching. After Lee signed in Philadelphia and Andy Pettitte retired the Yanks were left somewhat short changed on the rotation. They signed a few veterans to low-risk contracts and have a number of youngsters in camp, but chances are when they break for New York on March 30 they’ll be lacking a bit in the rotation.

That’s not to belittle the top of the rotation. CC Sabathia remains one of the league’s premier pitchers. His strikeouts dropped a bit last year and his walks rose, but he was still able to keep the ball on the ground and in the park. It amounted to a 3.18 ERA that put him in the Cy Young conversation for a fourth straight season. This season will essentially be a walk year for Sabathia, as he can opt out of his contract. Another fine showing will likely earn him more than the $92 million remaining on his contract from 2012 through 2015.

When the Yankees signed A.J. Burnett in the winter of 2008 they expected him to be Sabathia’s No. 2. In 2009 he played that role fairly well. In 2010, though, he imploded. Much has been made this off-season of his work with new pitching coach Larry Rothschild, including a mechanical change that eliminates his wild leg swing. But no one will believe that Burnett has changed until he gets on the mound and proves it. Until further notice, he’s a 34-year-old pitcher who showed marked signs of decline, including a career-low strikeout rate, in 2010.

Taking Burnett’s spot as the No. 2 in the rotation is Phil Hughes. After Baseball America named him the game’s No. 1 pitching prospect in 2007 Hughes has struggled to live up to the hype. He came close in 2010, though, especially early in the season when he was gassing hitters with his fastball. But as the season wore on he found he needed his secondary pitches, and when he reached back he didn’t have much of anything beyond a knuckle-curve. He emphasizes working on his changeup, but that has been the case since he turned pro. Without it he’s likely a No. 3 who will turn in a number of stellar starts. With it he can be that No. 2 to Sabathia’s No. 1.

After those three come a slew of veterans and rookies vying for two rotation spots. The favorite for the fourth spot is Freddy Garcia, whom the Yankees signed to a minor league deal during the winter. Last year he pitched 157 acceptable innings for the White Sox, recording a 4.64 ERA and 4.77 FIP. Those numbers aren’t the stuff of a championship caliber No. 4, but at this point the Yankees will take it as they let the trade market develop and their youngsters to get a bit more seasoning. If he can provide a 4.50 ERA, the Yanks will take a half season of that.

The Yankees might make the fifth starter spot sound like a competition among many, but it really comes down to veteran Bartolo Colon and rookie Ivan Nova. Colon signed a minor league deal this winter, and has looked fairly impressive in two spring training starts. There’s a chance that the Yankees could take him based on that, prepared to cut him at the first sign of trouble. That would allow Nova to be a depth option rather than a primary one. Nova pitched well enough last season, but had trouble getting through lineups a third time. Chances are he’ll be in the rotation by May if he doesn’t break camp with the team.

What the rotation lacks, the bullpen picks up. Led by immortal closer Mariano Rivera, the supporting cast this year is better than in years past. That’s not to say that the setup men were bad in 2009 and in 2010. In fact, since Joe Girardi took over in 2008 the Yankees bullpens have produced the third highest WAR in the league. It’s just that their bullpens have typically started off poorly before the team makes changes and gets everyone in line. This year they’re starting with a better crew than before.

Soriano heads the list of setup men, a role he was familiar with in Seattle and Atlanta. Health is his biggest concern, though he is coming off two injury free seasons. He represents the best full-season bridge to Mariano since Tom Gordon in 2004. Behind him is young reliever David Robertson, who has the fifth highest strikeout among relievers during the past two seasons. He tries to paint the corners with his fastball and get guys to chase his curveball, which leads to an above average walk rate, but that appears to be his only flaw. Joba Chamberlain will pitch in similar situations to Robertson. Last year he experienced poor results despite quality peripherals in the first half. Unsurprisingly, his results caught up in the second half. Chances are his results this year will come closer to his 2.98 FIP than his 4.40 ERA from 2010.

With Damaso Marte essentially out for the season the Yankees decided to pursue a lefty reliever on the free agent market. Not wanting to spend a first round pick on a relief pitcher, they went for Pedro Feliciano. He has been an effective reliever for the Mets since returning to the States in 2006. His walk rate might appear high, but many of those are intentional walks issued to a righty sandwiched between two lefties. If the Yankees keep him to a strict LOOGY role he could be an effective member of the 2011 bullpen. Boone Logan is the lefty who might have to take on more of an all-purpose role. He certainly took a step forward in 2010, keeping his strikeout rate high while limiting his home runs allowed. There’s no real indication he can handle the role, though, meaning that he, too, will likely be used in a LOOGY role. That will put a bit more pressure on the rest of the bullpen.

The final slot could change as the season marches along. Sergio Mitre, out of options for the second time, will likely break camp as the last man in the bullpen, but the Yankees have a few players, including a number of top prospects, who could take that spot later in the season. Nova could find himself there if the Yankees acquire a starter at the deadline. Andrew Brackman will certainly make his major league debut in 2011, and it could be in a bullpen role. Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances have both impressed in camp, but neither has significant professional experience and could end up in the bullpen later this season. Adam Warren, David Phelps, and Hector Noesi are other names to look for as bullpen, or even rotation, options later in the season.

The Key Guys

The Yankees will need a few of their veterans to bounce back on offense, but none of those is as important as the pitching staff. With a line of question marks following Sabathia, the Yankees will need someone to step up. Clearly, the best candidates for that are Hughes and Burnett. The Yankees’ hopes will ride on their arms this season.

For Hughes, it’s a matter of taking a step forward and figuring out what went wrong in the second half of 2010. Was it fatigue? Was it his lack of a third pitch? Was it the underwhelming nature of his curveball? An over-reliance on his heater in two-strike counts? Whatever the problem, he needs to fix it and step into that No. 2 spot if the Yankees are going to have a shot. He might have won 18 games last year, but he also received the most run support of any Yankees starter. Chances are that won’t happen for a second straight year.

Burnett’s recover will also be necessary if the Yankees are going to get through the first half on the pitchers currently with the team. He started off hot in 2010, with a 1.99 ERA on May 4 and a 3.28 ERA on May 30. But in June he completely broke down and while he recovered a bit in July, he was quite bad in August and September, a 6.61 ERA in 12 starts. If he repeats that the Yankees are going to be in serious trouble. But if he turns it around they can ride their offense to the trade deadline and perhaps improve the team then. But before that they need Hughes and Burnett to step up and pitch to their potentials.

Despite the perception that they had a poor off-season, the Yankees appear to be in decent shape for the 2011 season. The offense will again be a powerhouse, and there’s a solid bench to back it up. The rotation has considerably more question marks, but the Yankees have survived worse staffs in the past — and in those years they didn’t have a Sabathia on the club. The Red Sox might appear the favorites now, but the Yankees figure to hang around all season. With a pitching addition, they’ll certainly contend for the AL East crown.

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Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.

80 Responses to “Team Preview: New York Yankees”

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  1. Andy S says:

    I still fail to see why the Red Sox magically have become the favorites.

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    • chris says:


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    • Shaggychild says:

      I think it depends on how you compare Burnett/Garcia/Nova and Lackey/Beckett/Matsuzaka.

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      • Eric says:

        In one sense, yes. But the bigger issue is whether you think the Yanks have improved from 2010 (I don’t think they have) and whether you think Boston has improved (clearly they have).

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      • Steve says:

        No, that’s not the issue. The issue is if Boston has improved to the tune of 6 wins.

        They may have.

        I’d also pick Boston first right now, but let’s not pretend like they finished 2010 in a tie.

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    • Mike says:

      I think it’s because they are going to win more games.

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    • Joe Powderly says:

      Magically? Far from it. The Red Sox had a Yankee-like off season by successfully signing Carl Crawford and A-Gon while the Yankees tried throwing money at Cliff Lee like Charlie Sheen does to porn stars. Their big improvements: Russel Martin, Colon, and Soriano. The Yanks’ window with the current core is closing. Thats why cashman is smart to hold on to his young guys so in 2 years they’ll be a powerhouse again.

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    • Eric says:

      Magic? How about adding Youkilis, Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron, Wheeler, and Jenks to the team that played after Aug. 1?

      They did lose Beltre and VMart. The Net pluses in Boston are staggering.

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    • Adam says:

      …well first off the Sox didnt use any magic to obtain A-Gon, Crawford, Jenks, and Wheeler…they used contracts.

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  2. Jim says:

    Did you guys skip the Washington Nationals’ preview, or did I just miss it?

    Seems like 3 team previews were written each day last week, for a total of 15 teams, but I don’t remember the Nationals being one of them. I guess I just figured that they’d be the first one up this week, followed by whatever AL team you started with.

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  3. X says:

    It’s very clear to see why people are higher on Boston coming out of spring due to the good off season they had compared to the Yankees(and almost all other teams). But I think alot of people are under estamating the Yankees, the rotation will not be a factor regaurdless of who the Yankees start. CC will be a work horse, Phil will regress but be a very servisable #2, AJ will always be the unknown but will have his dominant moments and his bad games but will come away with his fair shar of wins even if its just thanks to the offence. It doesn’t really matter who the yanks start 4 and 5 they had a number of years winning world series rings and being dominant with iterchangable starting back end of the rotation guys. I think the yanks chase the sox for the division and are likly wild card winners even if they brough back Irabu and they stated Colon and Irabu all year in the 4-5 spots.

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  4. Rob in CT says:

    The problem isn’t so much that Garcia and Nova/Colon are pencilled in for the 4th and 5th spots. The problem is that teams typically need 6-8 starters, not 5, over the course of a season. The Bs aren’t ready for major-league action… those guys need to go tear up AA still, and they’d all be on innings caps anyway. I’m psyched about them… for 2012. The minor league pitchers the Yankees have who could realistically come up and eat innings aren’t nearly as good. It’s a decent bet that Sergio Mitre ends up starting some games.

    Overall, I’m cautiously optimistic about this year, but on paper the Red Sox have to be the favorites for the division and it’s Yankees v. Rays for the WC, hopefully. On paper, of course, there are no catastrophic injuries and such.

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    • Barkey Walker says:

      What their offense, if the Yankees need to bring up some players who can throw 5 to 7 FIP first six innings, they will be fine. The real question is, what happens if CC gets injured in September, or their top three don’t pan out.

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      • Eric says:

        If CC goes down this is a .500 team. His innings load is HUGE to the success of the whole rotation and the pen.

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      • phoenix2042 says:

        i don’t think they want 5-7 FIP pitchers on the major league roster. also it would be horrible if CC got injured, but he has not history of injury, and in fact as a history for workhorse health. that’s not to say he won’t get injured, but I don’t think anyone expects it like with chris carpenter or matsuzaka

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      • Barkey Walker says:

        @phoenix2042, did you read the pitcher DL blogs at FG? The LOWEST DL probability on the list was 25%. A starting pitchers is at the max of human capabilities, everything has to work perfectly. This is why you will usually see a team use 6 to 8 starting pitchers in a season.

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    • Captain says:

      not many teams have many #6-8 starters who are very good or much better than Mitre. the Yankees have a couple of arms in Triple A that can fill in for spot starts and the like if called upon. of course not front of the rotation guys, but guys who have a good chance of holding their own. thats kind of what you would expect from people at that point in the depth chart.

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  5. Barkey Walker says:

    What about Mark Prior?

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    • Preston says:

      He’ll get stashed in AAA and might get called up if he pitches well and the Yanks have an injury in the pen. I saw him pitch the other day and he looked good. But he’s not a good candidate for long relief, he’s not left handed and he can’t compete with talents like Rivera, Soriano, Chamberlain or Robertson.

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      • Barkey Walker says:

        Thanks for the report. I was thinking his contract was one of the smarter ones of the off-season because he might be able to come back to being a monster pitcher, but it sounds like he isn’t quite there yet.

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  6. Friedman says:

    I don’t think WAR is necessarily a great way to measure relievers as it is partially a counting stat. What is the FIP of the Yankees relievers over the past three years?

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  7. Telo says:

    You know, you could use R/L/S to denote handedness. I mean, I totally love having to decode something using symbols and key, when a simple 1 letter abbreviation could much more easily let everyone know what you’re talking about.


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  8. Eric says:

    Capt. Jetes is going to become a Vick-style coach killer in the next few years if he refuses to move down in the lineup, change positions, move to the bench. He’s shown a willingess to threaten to use his immense popularity with the fans to threaten the team’s managment into making foolish decisions that benefit Jeter but hurt the team’s ability to win. Should be interesting if his power doens’t come back (and it won’t).

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    • neuter_your_dogma says:

      Vick was never charged with coach killing.

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    • phoenix2042 says:

      It’s his poor contact and lack of OBP/AVG that we’re worried about, not his power. If he hits 10 homers or 15 no one will notice the difference. if he hits 20 (he has done it, but it’s never likely, especially not now) then he might stir power discussion.

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      • Eric says:

        I don’t mean HRs, I mean his ability to hit the ball hard on a line. He was a groundball machine in 2011. The OBP/AVG will follow if the ability to drive the ball returns.

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    • Frank says:

      Yeah…except none of that is true. Making shit up sure is fun though.

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    • SonsOfBiggie says:

      Jeter had one bad year and he’s a “coach killer”.

      It’s amazing that on a site usually filled with the use of new metrics that everyone has totally ignored the fact the Arod and Jeter had very unlucky years. Arod’s BaBIP was a career low .274 (career avg of .316)and Jeter’s was a career low .307 (carerr avg of .356). I can totally see a return back to career norms.

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      • Kahlil says:

        Good point, though I don’t think their improvement will meet or exceed their career averages– there is an equal possibility that Jeter, A-Rod and Posada will perform below their norms.
        There is also the fact that everyone hits better in Yankee Stadium. Is this masking a falloff in performance that may be more pronounced in another ballpark?
        If the Yankees experience anything close to what the Red Sox went through in terms of injuries they are done.

        There is a perception outside of the Yankee-verse that Jeter is not really that great of a ‘team player.’ This is based on his refusal to change positions when A-Rod became a Yankee, and that it seems like anytime his future is discussed it is with an implied position change, and seems to be confirmed by his contract negotiations this past off season.

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      • Steve says:

        If the Yankees experience anything close to what the Red Sox went through in terms of injuries they are done.

        Well, yeah.

        That goes for every team. Including…the Red Sox.

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      • Oakland Dan says:

        Jeter’s LD% took a dip, and he hit a a bunch of extra ground balls. He wasn’t hitting for power, so his fly balls didn’t go over the fence or find gaps, and he replaced his liners with grounders, which will send anyone’s BABIP southward.

        I agree he’ll probably bounce back a little, but this is what happens to older players when their bat speed starts to slip. That being said, I’ve learned not to question Jeter’s ability to make adjustments.

        Rodriguez’s HR/FB and LD% took huge dives in 2010. Never a good sign.

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  9. edvard says:

    There is little doubt that Nova will be in the rotation.

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  10. Will says:

    You can’t just add the value of the returning injured Red Sox players + CC and AGon to last years win total. Last years win total was a bit lucky considering their injuries and if last year played out again, they likely would not have reached that win total.

    The offenses look similar. I’d say the Red Sox have a higher floor, but the Yankees have a higher ceiling. The question marks in the Yankees rotation are well documented, but people are overlooking the question marks in the Red Sox rotation.

    The Red Sox have Jon Lester and 4 question marks. Thats not good.

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    • Eric says:

      If you are going to say that, then the Yanks have CC an 4 question marks. The Sox have Lester and 8 question marks.

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  11. TEN says:

    The Red Sox operated this past offseason with one goal in mind – make dramatic, buzzworthy transactions that drum up general interest in a product that’s been steadily declining since 2007, with the hope of significantly boosting NESN’s ratings, and in turn, advertising and branding.

    There is no rational explanation for paying a speed-reliant, soon-to-be-30 year old leftfielder $142 million; just as there’s no rational explanation for trading away three of your five or six relevant prospects for a 1B who would’ve 100% been a free agent in 6 months. It’s pure stupidity, and has nothing to do with smart baseball decisions, and everything to do with hail mary attempts at drumming up interest.

    Even with those moves, the Yankees should have a superior offense, defense and bullpen, along with a far, FAR stronger farm system for midseason acquisitions.

    The only area where the Red Sox could have an edge, is in starting pitching. And even there, Sabathia/Hughes/Burnett should match or exceed Lester/Bucholz/Beckett, with Garcia and Matsuzaka likely canceling out each other’s mediocrity. So in reality, this “huge SP edge” comes down to Lackey vs. Nova. Lackey has declined dramatically, across the board, for four straight seasons, while Nova is a talented unknown.

    The reality, is that the Phillies are the clear favorites, because of their postseason rotation. The Yanks, Sox, Giants, and everyone else are jumbled together. Let the games begin.

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    • Eric says:

      Yankees should have a superior offense, defense and bullpen?

      The offenses look very even to me, with the Yankees having more key guys in their mid-late 30s who have shown signs of decline in recent years.

      Defense??? The Yanks left side of the infield is calcified. Every one of the sox regulars is above average defensively, except for *maybe* ellsbury and Scutoro, and they have played well above average at times in the recent past.

      Who knows about the bullpens? Both could have very strong pens. Sox have more depth. Yanks may have a better back end. But you are counting on health from Soriano and a 40-somthing closer.

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    • Joe R says:

      “The Red Sox operated this past offseason with one goal in mind – make dramatic, buzzworthy transactions that drum up general interest in a product that’s been steadily declining since 2007, with the hope of significantly boosting NESN’s ratings, and in turn, advertising and branding.”

      I immediately stopped reading. Awful comment. NESN is one of the better team-centric stations in the country.

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    • RC says:

      At what specific position are the Yankees better than the Red Sox offensively?

      I honestly wouldn’t be all that surprised to see the Red Sox with higher wOBA at 7 or 8 of the positions than the Yankees.

      I’ll use Marcel to avoid “Bill James is a Red Sox Homer” accusations

      1B Tex: .374 – Gonzalez .371
      2B Cano .354 – Pedroia .361
      SS Jeter .334 – Lowrie .336
      3B Arod .365 – Youk .389
      LF Gardner .341 – Crawford .354
      CF Granderson .341 – Ellsbury .330
      RF Swisher .352 – Drew .355
      DH Posada .341 – Ortiz .347
      C Martin .315 -Salta… .312

      So, to me atleast, it looks like the Red Sox have a big advantage at 3B, LF, and possibly at SS. The Yankees have one in CF. The rest is pretty much wash.

      So how exactly, is the Yankees offense superior at this point? Also, I’d argue the Redsox are better defensively at 3B, SS, RF, while 1B, 2B, LF, CF are all washes.

      Yeah, they probably have a better bullpen, but IF their starters can hold up. If they get stretched, I don’t think so.

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  12. pft says:

    Nice summary. IMHO, the Yankees and Red Sox seem pretty evenly matched.

    The Red Sox have their own concerns at starter with Daisuke and Beckett, the #4 and #5 starters making 25 million this year. Lackey may improve, Buchholz may regress, and Lester should be fine, so overall, the production from the top 3 should be the same as last year. Burnett looking fine in ST, although it’s too early to say. Hughes needs to improve over last year, he was pretty awful post mid-May.

    Red Sox and Yankees bullpen appear evenly matched, with a slight edge to the Yankees, although I must say Logan has looked pretty shaky in ST, and Rivera and Soriano have yet to pitch.

    Position wise, the Red Sox have three 35 yo starting position players who might decline (Papi, JD, Scutaro), and almost all of the younger players, including the 39 yo Cameron and 38 yo Varitek, are coming off injuries/illness/surgery. The one healthy young exception in 2010 is Carl Crawford.

    So much depends on how players bounce back and health that projections are virtually meaningless. If I was forced to bet, I would take the Red Sox over the Yankees. That said, I have not ruled out the Rays, they could surprise folks if a lot of things go right and they stay healthy. The Orioles should be tougher as well, making the division a pretty tough one, so tough that the WC might go to team not in the East

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    • Captain says:

      just so you know, Rivera never pitches this early in Spring Training and gets much less innings than other closers. always has been his routine so him not appearing in a game is no concern. neither is Soriano since both have been throwing.

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  13. dangnewt says:

    No one is overlooking the question marks in the Red Sox rotation – it is just that the questions are not as pointed as those in the Yankee rotation. I like the Sox rotation – it is not the Phillies but I wouldn’t trade any of my guys for the Yankee guys in the same slot. The only pair of the bottom 4 that is close is Buchholz-Hughes. While there are questions, the ceiling on the Sox rotation is very high – all should win 15+; any of them could win 18+ wins and I would guess that 3 of them will. If there is an injury, the Sox have Wakefield who is knocking on the door of 200 wins and is only a few years from a 17 win himself.

    Buchholz – can a 26 year old coming off a 17-7 187 ERA+ season repeat or improve his success?
    Hughes – can a 25 year coming off an 18-8 102 ERA+ season repeat or improve on his early success

    Becket – can a 31 year old career avg 15-10 winner with a 20 win season in the not distance past pitch better than 6-6 when healthy?
    Burnett – can a 34 year old career 13-12 winner with a 18 win season in the not the not distance past pitch better than 10-15 with a 5.26 ERA?

    Lackey – can a 32 year old career 15-12 winner with a 19 win season 4 years ago in the not distance past pitch better than 14-11 and 4.40 ERA when his career ERA is 3.89
    Garcia – can a 36 year old career 15-10 winner who had a 17 win season 5 years ago and a respectable 12-6 4.64 season last year repeat that success.

    Dice-K – is 30 and has been a question mark since he came in the league but over his first 4 years he is 46-26 with a 4.18 ERA
    Colon – is 37 and has a record of 14-21 over the past 4 years with a 5.18 ERA.

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  14. dangnewt says:

    Cameron and Varitek are backups at this point in their careers. Scutaro either bounces back from injury or is replaced by Lowrie and eventually Iglesias. The Sox have plenty of depth in the minors, so much that I expect that their midseason trade bait may well be Scutaro and Cameron.

    That said, as long as Rivera is the Yankee bullpen, it will be the best in the majors.

    Is signing Crawford that much dumber baseball-wise than a 51M/3yr contract for a 37 yo shortstop coming off of a 90 OPS+ year? There is no question that the signings of Crawford and Gonzalez have improved the buzz which should translate into ratings – but the excitment is genuine and the players they obtained are all-stars and combined with the players coming back mean a lot more wins. If the signings translate into enough wins to take the division, is that a bad baseball decision?

    Even with all the “terrible baseball decisions” the Sox will still end up roughly the same place as last year on salary which is some $40,000,000+ less than the Yankees. Yes, and more than $40,000,000 more than the rest of the AL East – I know.

    I thought the original article was a good one, the Yanks are stilla strong team even though they really didn’t do anything to get stronger over the offseason and their chief rival did.

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  15. MonteroSmash says:

    would be happy if Yankees end up getting wild card spot without sacrificing any of our top prospects while they progress to be ready for 2012 or beyond for MLB. plus if we go deep into playoffs from that wild card spot too

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  16. Dan G says:

    I didn’t think ERA was the best way to measure a bullpen’s effectiveness; but, your point is well taken – the Yankee stats were not as good as they usually are and they did have a league average 18 blown saves. As a Red Sox fan, I’ve been waiting 14 years for the wheels to fall of the Mo bus and am resigned to probably waiting another 14. But as a baseball fan, I have a ton of respect for him and his game. I still see the Yankee bullpen being one of, if not, the best this year (and if you look back over the Mariano era – Mo and whoever else has been in there with him have been pretty effective – least blown saves, second-most saves.) At the start of any year, I’d take bullpen headed by Mo ahead of any that put up good stats the year before because relievers are notoriously inconsistent and Mo is maddeningly frustratingly consistently excellent.

    If the starters can deliver enough innings and at least keep it close, the Yankees will win plenty of games late with their offense and pen.

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    • Eric says:

      I don’t think the Yanks have had a particulalry strong bullpen (outside of Mo) for most of the last 15 years. When they have had a strong pen it has been torn to shreds by Torre by Sept.

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  17. Dan G says:

    “I don’t think the Yanks have had a particulalry strong bullpen (outside of Mo) for most of the last 15 years.” That is more-or-less my point – Mo and a bunch of average guys is a very good bullpen. Mo and a ’08 Chamberlin or a ’06 Proctor or a ’04 Gordon, etc is an excellent bullpen.

    “When they have had a strong pen it has been torn to shreds by Torre by Sept.” Red Sox fans rely on this and with CC and the ? as a rotation, the stage is set for Girardi to follow in the footsteps of his mentor. ;-)

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  18. Cliff says:

    RedSox are definately better on paper going in to 2011 and I am a Yankees fan. The Yankees have a better offense (excluding injury speculation) and if healthy should still grab the wild card. Their pitching mess makes them unlikely to go much farther than that without the addition of a bona fide #2 at the deadline.

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    • Steve says:

      I think this is pretty accurate.

      The Yankees will rely on their offense and bullpen to keep them in the hunt through July, they then will look to upgrade as non-contenders become sellers.

      That upgrade might even come from within their system, but a trade seems more likely.

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    • RC says:

      “The Yankees have a better offense (excluding injury speculation”

      Where? Where exactly is their offense better? Take a quick look. Pretty much the only yankee who hits better than his corresponding Red Sox is in CF. The Red Sox have some pretty drastic advantages at other positions (3B, SS, LF, etc)

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  19. GreggB says:

    Good analysis. For 2011, the Sox and Yankees are very close in talent. Looking beyond 2012, the Sox at this point are MUCH better positioned, with their older players coming off contract and the core of the team entering their prime.

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    • Steve says:

      The yankees looked pretty old in 2008 too. That turned around pretty quick.

      Depending on your source, the Yankees have somewhere between the 4th and 9th best farm system in baseball.

      We know they have the deepest pockets.

      Lots of desirable prospects + lots of cash is a pretty good formula towards building a good roster.

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      • GreggB says:

        True enough, Steve. But I’m guessing that there may be a few weak years, maybe starting in 2012, maybe in 2011. If we look at the next three years, I’m guessing the Sox will win more games, regardless of who the Yankees buy. They really don’t have a great deal of flexibility.

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  20. Kirk says:

    The Red Sox starters were 2nd in the league in FIP last year, and slightly above average in xFIP. Let’s not start pretending that they were terrible. Their rotation isn’t Lester + 4 question marks. Their pitching issues last year were completely on the bullpen, something that has been shored up dramatically.

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  21. cs3 says:

    Steve wrote:
    *** “m pretty sure last year Rivera was in the Yankee bullpen and they werent even one of the top 3.”

    Right, and then they signed Soriano and Feliciano this offseason.
    They added one of the best relievers in baseball. This isn’t rocket science.***

    no kidding. however the poster that I was replying to (dangnewt) simply stated that as long as Rivera is around, the Yankees bullpen is the best. Which is obviously false, as i just showed. No other premise was mentioned, and he didnt even refer to any of the Yankees new signings. Understand now?

    So maybe you should actually read the comments in the context to which they refer, rather than spouting off and sticking your foot in your mouth like so many prototypical Yankee fans

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  22. Eric says:

    Clee says he turned down the Yanks because of “age”. This is the Jeter and Arod contracts coming home to roost. I’ve been saying this all winter: No pitcher with viable alternatives is going to want to pitch with those two guys behind him and next to each other on the left side of the infield. It’s not the Yanks “age” it’s that two key defensive positions are locked in for the next 4 years with the calcified remains of Jeter and Arod.

    I’ve posted this before in this space and was hooted at. Beleive it now? Jeter’s contract is going to do immearsurable harm to the NYY for years to come.

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    • jimbob says:

      and the philly’s aren’t getting old?

      you might want to check their roster for that one. lol.

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  23. Jaf says:

    Amen, Clee. Jeter will go from being an awful captain (not putting the team’s welfare ahead of his position in the field and the batting order, not to mention being willing or able to put his rivalry with Arod aside to make him feel welcome on the team) to being an awful and very much overpaid player. Age deals harshly with shortstops. And if you disagree, just try to find players who performed and stayed healthy at the age he is now and, even more so, at the age he’ll be during the last two years of his contract. If there are any exceptions, you can count them on the fingers of one hand.

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  24. Cl Pumps says:

    Oh googlicious, it looks like my kind of cake. Enjoy xox

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  25. mosthenepari says:

    When it pertains fishing and even parts for your personal rod, few companies stand onto the level of quality list including Diawa reel parts.Diawa is almost certainly noted designed for quality as well as excellent needlework, whether it is for fly-fishing gear or tempt casting fishing reel and rod combos.Just about any big exterior sporting great store transport the label Diawa, and the firm even enjoy a healthy on the net ordering site to service all of your fishing needs that could arise.

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  26. cheapugg says:

    When you are the beach, the sun does seem awfully bright. You need something to cover your eyes and the choice could be one of these beach caps. These beach caps are supposed to keep away the summertime blues. They are called Patapgonia. The huge bill of these beach caps should your eyes from the sun and a dark underside should keep the glare from your eyes as well. These caps should survive being crush so you can find it later after you spill on your surfboard. These particular beach caps are from nylon and have a water-repellant finish. These beach caps are different from other caps. They are The North Face: Class V hat. They are different because they are 100% nylon Class V fabric treated with a water repellent finish that should help them stand up to going under water. It is engineered to float so it will come up eventually. The lining is especially made to keep sweat away from your face. These beach caps are called the Men’s Fischer Hat. They are woven beanies. They have an acrylic cap and an adjustable brim. The brim should help you whether it is rainy or sunny. These breach caps are called Men’s Brass Knuckles Hat. They are solid color caps and have a 3-D embroidered logo in front. There is a gold warpaint pin on back. These beach caps are Men’s Yo Strider Hat. These caps are usually worn by people who are part of the MLB, NBA and any college team that ever mattered. There is a logo on front and a different logo in back. These beach caps also have logos in back and front. These beach caps do not have an adjustable strap or plastic closure in back. You will need to know your head size when you choose these caps or the caps will not fit you.

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  27. saleomega says:

    ?New Orleans was first terribly attack by Quake Katrina on September 2005, creating an unprecdented shortage of property as well as lives.But quick grown timbers .damage, the individuals of all the Crescent Place rallied and pushed ahead together with the annual Mardi Gras habit — including great nutrition, jazz popular music, flowing have, funky precious jewelry, and many of the bright accoutrements that insure the event a pleasant one.

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    Having said that, not all of Mardi Gras bracelets is costumes jewelry.Fine jewelers enjoy a slew associated with offerings for people with a taste for a little something more beautiful and trendy.Pearl rings enjoys quick sales while in the season, perhaps for the reason that resemble all the beads who are in having plenty during Mardi Gras.Of course, pearl jewelry is usually worn anytime and with the help of almost every attire being easy to get into character or down to.

    Hurricane Katrina did not drown that spirit for the people with New Orleans they usually showed this unique during Mardi Gras because of their elaborate parades together with parties.Adorned around colorful as well as flashy expensive jewelry while partying while in the streets, taking advantage of Creole and additionally Cajun cooking, singing and additionally dancing to help jazz songs, and consuming alcohol the night time away, they proved that existence doesn’t only proceed, but that it ought to be lived to fullest.

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  28. tchardmaxwi says:

    What if you happen to do las vegas bankruptcy lawyer iPod freezes as well as you frequently be conscious of the Sad Experience icon appearing on your screen? Do you go to the nearby computer wizard or mp3 geek and shell out cash you don’t have? Why not discover how to fix these yourself!

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  29. eteether says:

    Have you heard of a wedding ring style called tension set wedding rings? This style is very different from traditional wedding rings; it has a stylish, modern appearance. There are many advantages to getting a tension set ring, but there are some disadvantages as well.

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    Tension set wedding rings pros

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    Tension set ring cons

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  30. lesaleprom says:

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