• Megdal: It’s A Question Of Age

    Posted by on February 28th, 2008 · Comments (8)

    Howard Megdal looks at the 2008 Yankees today for the Observer:

    But there are a number of questions the Yankees will begin to answer this spring that will determine if this year’s team will win ugly during the regular season and fall short against the American League’s best pitching in October, or if the Yankees finally have the right mix of youth and experience.

    Like personnel-deprived teams that played during World War II, New York’s starting pitching may be either too young or too old.

    Which brings us to Mike Mussina, who may be finished as a good major league pitcher. He has ended up with a wose-than-average ERA+ in three of the past four seasons—his ERA in 2007 was 5.15. And it got worse for Mussina as the year went on—he was at 4.62 prior to the All-Star break, 5.72 afterwards.

    Between left field and designated hitter, the Yankees need to find time for Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, while Bobby Abreu and Jorge Posada could both use occasional DH time as well. Once hitters catch up to pitchers in mid-March, watch all of these players, and notice if they are getting around on good fastballs, or if they swing and miss too much. With the exception of Posada, all displayed signs of decline for extended periods in 2007, and the end for good hitters is often swift.

    I think the Yankees realize all this as well – which is why Brian Cashman has said this season could go well or not so well for the team.

    I just wonder how many Yankees fans realize this? Probably not enough.

    Comments on Megdal: It’s A Question Of Age

    1. Jordan Meisner
      February 28th, 2008 | 12:56 pm

      You can count me as one of the Yankee fans that doesn’t “realize this”:

      - Don’t underestimate the power of the contract year for Giambi and Abreu.
      - Matsui just has old-man knees. He’ll be fine at the plate, but he’ll be a little slower on the base paths and in the outfield.
      - Posada is coming off the best year of his career.
      - I’m not so confident about Damon, but my gut tells me he’ll bounce back this year to about his career-average numbers.

      But honestly, who knows? I’m excited to see what happens.

    2. keithny
      February 28th, 2008 | 1:00 pm

      Couldn’t you write virtually the same article but with Varitek, Lowell, Manny, Ortiz and Drew?

    3. baileywalk
      February 28th, 2008 | 1:04 pm

      Everyone should have a job as easy as the sports writer. “Take everything everyone else has written, down to the word, and then just spit it back up and tell everyone all over again.” Every spring training is the same: They question the youth of the young guys. They question the age of the vets. They question the ability to perform for the new guys. They question the ability to maintain for the guys who were good the previous year.

      I saw a team-by-team report on ESPN not that long ago and the melodramatic voice-over said “The Yankees are old… and getting older.” Yes, they are getting older by adding three pitchers under the age of twenty-four, potentially filling out their bullpen with kids, and having a second baseman and centerfielder 25 and younger. I guess people expect the Yankees to become the D’Backs overnight.

      I think the Yankees have a better team this year than they did last year — stability in rotation (and yes, Hughes and Kennedy mean stability when compared to Chase Wright, Matt De Salvo, Kei Igawa and Carl Pavano) cannot be undervalued. Joba in the bullpen means less eighth-inning meltdowns. And Giambi and Matsui (outside of one month) didn’t contribute much to the team last year, anyway. I suppose the offensive concerns are what A-Rod will do (in the sense that he might not have another supernatural season, just a “merely” great one) and if Jorge finally ages.

      So the Yankees could win it all, not make the playoffs, finish third — whatever. But, Christ, isn’t that basically the same for every team in baseball? If Lester doesn’t mature and Dice-K isn’t any better this year, are the Sox going to win the World Series? If Carmona has post-increase velocity drain and Hafner’s slide continues, do the Indians do anything? If Willis is the same lousy pitcher he was last year and Sheffield has nothing left, what becomes of the Tigers?

      The margin of winning and losing seems pretty small — for the Yankees and every other team. And I think the Yankee fan is educated and reasonable enough to know this.

    4. MJ
      February 28th, 2008 | 1:27 pm

      The margin of winning and losing seems pretty small — for the Yankees and every other team. And I think the Yankee fan is educated and reasonable enough to know this.
      ===============================================
      I couldn’t agree more. Plus, rumors of the Yankees’ demise have been greatly exaggerated for going on three years now.

    5. Bradley
      February 28th, 2008 | 2:52 pm

      I like our club…

      We have the good mixture of consistent talent…contract year talent…and young talent with good heads of their shoulders.

    6. butchie22
      February 28th, 2008 | 4:24 pm

      The Yankee starting rotation needs everything to go right(everyone being healthy AND all of the young pitchers returning to form).Andy MacPhail is another baseball guy(like the Yank’s Kevin Long) who proclaims Toronto’s pitching to be the best in AL from 1 to 11.Can the Yanks pitching measure up to the Sox and Toronto?The answer is no BUT certain things can be done.Sign Freddy Garcia!As an insurance policy because when this guy is on he can pitch.I like him better than Igawa and Mussina as back end options.Their offense will be fine BUT their pitching especially the middle relievers will be a question mark.

    7. hornblower
      February 28th, 2008 | 9:08 pm

      Looking forward to the season. Love the young pitchers. The team is out of balance. Don’t expect them to go into the season with three DH’s and no real 1st. baseman who can field.
      Once the games begin they will have time to showcase Matsui, Giambi and Damon. One will go even if they have to pay some salary.

    8. Josh
      February 28th, 2008 | 9:29 pm

      Now thats the pessimism and doom and gloom we all expect from Steve.

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