The third in our little trip through the AL East cities, I looked at the Beantown Nine back here and Hugo looked at the team from the City Without a Nickname here. So I get the fun of talking about the team from Steve Earle's City of Emigrants, the Yankees.
As always, it has been an interesting off season for the Yankees. Gone are Johnny Damon, Hidecki Matsui, Melky Cabrera, Chien-Ming Wang, Brian Bruney, Austin Jackson, Ian Kennedy, Eric Hinske, Xavier Nady, Shelly Duncan and a few others.
They signed a couple of free agents: Nick Johnson to DH and Randy Winn for the outfield. Made a couple of big trades getting Curtis Ganderson (for Kennedy, Jackson and Phil Coke) to play CF and Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan (for Arodys Vizcaino, Melky Cabrera and Michael Dunn).
C: Jorge Posada
1B: Mark Teixeira
2B: Robinson Cano
SS: Derek Jeter
3B: Alex Rodriguez
LF: Randy Winn
CF: Curtis Granderson
RF: Nick Swisher
DH: Nick Johnson
Bench: Francisco Cervelli C, Brett Gardner OF, Ramiro Pena Utility. .
It is not a young team. Posada will be 38 this year, ancient for a catcher, Teirxeira 30, Jeter 36, Rodriguez 34, Winn 36, Nick Johnson 31. Cano 27, Swisher and Granderson 29 each, are the kids in the lineup. Barring HGH you'd have to expect some decline as a group.
Posado hit well last year, .285/.363/.522, but only played in 111 games. You'd have to guess he'll miss some again this year. Cervelli, his backup wasn't terrible with the bat (.298/.309/.372) but is a step down from Jorge.
You'll never find a better offensive infield than the Yankees have. 112 homers and 373 RBI, last year, between the 4 of them. So even with some decline, you can't beat that group. Defensively they might not be great, though Teixeira can catch the ball and Jeter was better last year than he had been in years. Cano and Rodriguez were a little worse than average with the glove but with their bats you can forgive that.
The outfield doesn't match the infield for offense. I wouldn't have offered a declining Randy Winn a free agent contract. He hit just .262/.318/.353 last year and at 36 you wonder how much of a bounce back he could have this year. Granderson had a poor year with the bat as well, .249/.327/.453, but he is young enough to come back from that and he has speed and a decent glove in CF. I'd like a leadoff hitter to get on more than he does. Nick Swisher was terrible for the White Sox in 2008, was traded to the Yankees for pennies on the dollar and he was great. He hit .249/.371/.498 with 29 homers and 82 RBI, would almost make up for how annoying he would be to have on the bench with you. They have speedster Brett Gardner on the bench when the regulars need to be spelled.
Nick Johnson, signed to be the new DH, has been a pretty consistent player in his career, generally keeping his OBP above .400 with enough doubles and homers to keep a decent slugging average. He is also very consistent at getting injured, but maybe being a full time DH will keep him healthy.
1. CC Sabathia
2. A.J. Burnett
3. Andy Pettitte
4. Javier Vazquez
5. Phil Hughes
Again you aren't really looking at a young group. Of the top 4 CC is the baby at 29. At his size, you do have to wonder a little about how well his knees will hold up as he ages, but that's the future. Last year he was 19-8 and a 3.37 ERA and there is no reason to believe he won't at least come close to those numbers again. The less said about A.J. the better, but he's now had 2 injury free seasons in a row. I don't know if that means he's due, he is 33 this year and with his history, never know. Pettitte will be 38 this year and he never seems to change, he'll give you an ERA in the low 4's and win you 14-15 games. You would think that change one day. Vazquez played 6 years with the Expos so it is hard to believe he's not older than 34. He had the lowest ERA of his career last year at 2.87 with the Braves and he won 15 games pitching over 195 innings for the 10th season in a row. Phil Hughes was great in the Yankee pen last year, and has won the 5th starter job over Joba in camp.
Mariano Rivera (RHP)
David Robinson (RHP)
Boone Logan (LHP)
Damaso Marte (LHP)
Chan Ho Park (RHP)
Joba Chamberlain (RHP)
Sergio Mitre (RHP)
Speaking of old, Rivera is 40 and looks like he could keep being the best closer in baseball for another 10 years or so, but you have to figure at some point he'll slip a bit. The rest of the pen is ok but nothing special, I wonder if Joba will just slot back into the setup role he filled so well before being moved into the rotation full time last year. Logan and Park are additions this year. Logan will have to pitch better than he has the last couple of years or he won't be a Bronx favourite, Park looked terrific in the World Series for the Phillies, but he hasn't had a lot of success the last few years.
In Joe Girardi the Yankees have an intelligent manager who knows the game. He isn't going to cost them games on the field and knows the troubles players are going to face playing for the Yankees. GM Brian Cashman job is either the worst or the best in baseball. He gets all the money a GM could want to put the team together with, but with that comes the expectations that they win every year. Brian has managed to keep the job for 12 years, which is easily the longest during the Steinbrenner era being out the next longest stretch by about 8 years.
Overall, they aren't young and you have to figure that will catch up to them at some point but then their closest rival, the Red Sox, aren't filled with youngsters either, so they should be in the race again. If we were the Rays I'd be thinking this is the year we should be going for it.