• Wang, Joba, Cano & Posada Keys To ’09 Yanks

    Posted by on December 30th, 2008 · Comments (48)

    According to the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, the Yankees batters had 16 RCAA last season as a team. That was good for 7th in the A.L. (out of 14 teams). And, Yankees pitchers had 28 RSAA last season as a team. That was good for 6th in the A.L. (out of 14 teams) – and just 4 RSAA away from being 7th in the league. When you factor in the Yankees terrible team defense last year, it’s no wonder why they were a near middle-of-the pack team in terms of winning percentage in 2008.

    Now, we know that the Yankees have made a big splash this off-season, in terms of retooling their roster, picking up Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. Will that make them a better team in 2009? Well, consider this:

    In 2008, Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte made a combined 67 starts for the Yankees – pitching 404.3 innings and winning 34 games. On average, that’s 33 starts, 202 IP and 17 wins each. Now, they’re both off the team. Do you really think that CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, combined, can better those numbers in 2009? At best, they should match them. But, pass them? I dunno…

    Basically, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett are the Yankees 2009 replacements for the 2008 production that they got from Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte. It’s a patch – not an improvement.

    In 2008, Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi had 45 combined RCAA for the Yankees – in 301 games played between the two of them. On average, that’s 150 games played and 22 RCAA each. Now, they’re both off the team. Do you really think that Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira, combined, can better those numbers in 2009? At best, they should match them. But, pass them? I dunno…

    Mark Teixeira, by himself, should match those 45 RCAA in 2009 that the Yankees got in 2008 from Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi. But, Nick Swisher? Well, he had -11 RCAA last season and 25 RCAA in 2007. So, he’s a wildcard – he could help the team in 2009 or hurt them. No one knows for sure.

    Basically, Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira are the Yankees 2009 replacements for the 2008 production that they got from Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi. It’s a patch – not a lock for an improvement.

    So, if the Yankees were a near middle-of-the pack team, in terms of hitting and pitching, in 2008 and have not picked up any players to improve that in 2009, how will 2009 be any different from last season for the Yankees?

    The answer is simple: Robinson Cano, Jorge Posada, Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain need to have better stats in 2009 than they had in 2008. These four players, albeit mostly due to injury sans Cano, did not give the Yankees what most would have expected from them last season. And, that’s why they are the keys to the 2009 Yankees season.

    The 2009 Yankees need to get 40+ RCAA from the combination of Cano and Posada (coming in about 280+ games played between the two of them) and they need to get 60+ games started and about 30+ wins (and about 360+ IP) combined from the duo of Wang and Chamberlain as well. If this does not happen, the Yankees 2009 season should be the same as what we saw in 2008 – even with the recent additions of Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett.

    Comments on Wang, Joba, Cano & Posada Keys To ’09 Yanks

    1. Raf
      December 30th, 2008 | 10:50 am

      When you factor in the Yankees terrible team defense last year, it’s no wonder why they were a near middle-of-the pack team in terms of winning percentage in 2008.
      —————————
      That is something you need to factor into your analysis. Improve the defense, it’ll make the pitching that much better. The offense will take care of itself.

    2. diodio2
      December 30th, 2008 | 10:53 am

      What about the improvement on defense between Giambi/Abreu and Swisher/Teixeira is hugeeeee.

      Run prevention also helps.

    3. MJ
      December 30th, 2008 | 11:07 am

      Basically, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett are the Yankees 2009 replacements for the 2008 production that they got from Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte. It’s a patch – not an improvement.
      —————
      Dunno about that one. I’m not a very big fan of AJ Burnett’s but it’s very hard to make the argument that CC/AJ aren’t an improvement on Moose/Andy. Even if it’s a marginal improvement, it’s nevertheless not a lateral move as you seem to imply.

    4. MJ
      December 30th, 2008 | 11:09 am

      Basically, Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira are the Yankees 2009 replacements for the 2008 production that they got from Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi. It’s a patch – not a lock for an improvement.
      ————–
      If you believe, as you said, that Teixeira can match Giambi/Abreu almost on his own then I’d say it’s an improvement since I believe Swisher can improve upon 2008 by simply playing to his career norm.

    5. AndrewYF
      December 30th, 2008 | 11:23 am

      You’re also forgetting completely about Xavier Nady.

      So, if Posada, Cano, Wang, A-Rod, Jeter, Matsui, all give the same production as they did last year (many of which hit near worst-case scenarios), the Yankees are still looking to be better than 89 wins?

      Damn, that’s good.

    6. December 30th, 2008 | 11:44 am

      ~~You’re also forgetting completely about Xavier Nady.~~

      Not really.

      I figure that Nady in 2009, FT in NY, should match what the combo of Matsui PT and Nady PT gave NY in 2008. So, having him FT in 2009 is not that much different than having him in ’08.

      Matsui, now, he’s a wildcard. If he can play FT in 2009 – with Nady playing FT – that can help. But, I don’t think you can count on Godzilla now…

    7. December 30th, 2008 | 11:45 am

      ~~I believe Swisher can improve upon 2008 by simply playing to his career norm.~~

      Hope springs eternal in the human breast…and in MJ’s mind.

    8. December 30th, 2008 | 11:46 am

      ~~I’m not a very big fan of AJ Burnett’s but it’s very hard to make the argument that CC/AJ aren’t an improvement on Moose/Andy. ~~

      Think numbers and not names. Think of the numbers, the stats, the production from Mussina and Pettitte in 2008. That’s what CC and AJ have to match. It’s a high bar.

    9. December 30th, 2008 | 11:48 am

      ~~Improve the defense, it’ll make the pitching that much better.~~

      If Wang and Joba cannot make 60 starts, etc., then you’ll be looking at the Cashman replacements – which are usually pitchers like Sidney Ponson. All the defensive improvement in the world won’t matter then…

    10. December 30th, 2008 | 11:53 am

      [...] Wang, Joba, Cano, & Posada Key’s to ‘09 Yanks [...]

    11. Raf
      December 30th, 2008 | 12:00 pm

      If Wang and Joba cannot make 60 starts, etc., then you’ll be looking at the Cashman replacements – which are usually pitchers like Sidney Ponson.
      ————-
      with Hughes, Kennedy, Aceves, Wright, Horne, etc, etc, etc, etc, in the system, I’d be surprised if the Yanks reacquire Ponson, or a pitcher like him.

    12. Raf
      December 30th, 2008 | 12:01 pm

      Having said that, even with Ponson & Pavano taking regular turns, the pitching staff performed similar to the 2007 squad.

    13. MJ
      December 30th, 2008 | 1:13 pm

      ~~I believe Swisher can improve upon 2008 by simply playing to his career norm.~~

      Hope springs eternal in the human breast…and in MJ’s mind.
      —————–
      A guy that put up RCAA of 0, -2, 23, 25, and -11 in five seasons. Add those up then divide by 5 and you get an average of 7 RCAA/season. That’s a very quick and dirty way of doing it but I’d say that there’s certainly a reason to believe that he can revert to a career norm in positive numbers. I don’t think it’s such a far-fetched hope as you make it seem.

    14. MJ
      December 30th, 2008 | 1:19 pm

      Think numbers and not names. Think of the numbers, the stats, the production from Mussina and Pettitte in 2008. That’s what CC and AJ have to match. It’s a high bar.
      —————
      I AM thinking numbers! All we can do is look at what Sabathia/Burnett have done over the past two seasons and compare that to what Moose/Pettitte have done. You can then reasonably expect similar performance with maybe a modest regression perhaps. In that case, I’d love for you to run the numbers and get back to me on where CC/AJ compare with Moose/Pettitte.

      I’d be willing to bet that it’s not even close considering how awful Moose was in 2007 and how Pettitte’s 2008 wasn’t very good either.

    15. jmeisner
      December 30th, 2008 | 3:01 pm

      Steve, you’re correct in identifying that Wang, Joba, Cano and Posada will have to fare better in 2009 than in 2008, but as far as three of them are concerned, that’s the same thing as saying that they’ll simply have to take the field with greater regularity. We all know that Wang, Joba, and Posada got hurt, so essentially your argument shouldn’t focus on specific players, it should focus on health. Obviously, if the Yankees have three significant players suffer serious injures and see another significant player have an uncharacteristically bad year in 2009, then they will probably not do very well.

      Honestly, given the track record of players on the roster and recent events, the ones we should be worried about due to health concerns are Burnett, Wang, Posada, and Matsui. They’re the ones who seem to be at highest risk of injury.

      BUT, it is impossible to argue against the fact that, on paper, the Yankees have improved since last year. Teixeira is an upgrade over Giambi, and I don’t know what numbers you’re looking at, but alphabet soup is expected to save more runs than Pettitte and Mussina did in 2008. The latter two put up about 400 innings at an ERA of 4 — I think it’s safe to say that if alphabet soup replicated those numbers, it would be a bit of a disappointment.

      You’re also not addressing a huge problem for the Yankees in 2008, which was the extent to which the auxiliary starting pitching sucked ass. Ponson, Rasner, Kennedy, Hughes, and Pavano were truly awful, seeing as though their combined ERA was probably something like 6.5.

      I still expect the Yankees to sign Pettitte, given how badly he wants to pitch in the new Stadium, in which case the Yankees will have a solid starting rotation from top to bottom, and hopefully Hughes, Kennedy, and Aceves will provide better replacement pitching than we saw last year when the inevitable injuries occur.

      On paper, I’d say that the 2009 Yankees are a 95-100 win team, and I doubt many sabermetricians would disagree.

    16. Rambis35
      December 30th, 2008 | 3:06 pm

      2008
      Sabathia – 44 RSAA, 253 IP
      Burnett – 5 RSAA, 221.1 IP
      Total – 49 RSAA, 474.1 IP

      Mussina – 24 RSAA, 200.1 IP
      Pettitte – -2 RSAA, 204 IP
      Total – 22 RSAA, 404.1 IP

      I agree that Sabathia and Burnett will probably throw fewer innings. But they are both reasonably likely to maintain their 2008 levels of production, which would be an improvement over Mussina/Pettitte. Also, despite various reports to the contrary, I feel that Pettitte will return. Sabathia was supposed to sign on the west coast, Teixeira was supposed sign with the Red Sox, and the Swisher trade came out of nowhere – yet we have all three. I think the Yankees front office has a clear plan, and I think Pettitte comes back for a little over $10 million, or maybe on a deal with some incentives (like Johnson).

      I do agree with the main premise of this post though. While I feel Teixeira, Sabathia, Burnett, and Swisher are upgrades, we are also losing quite a bit of production. Getting healthy, fairly productive seasons from Wang, Joba, Cano, and Posada will be necessary to win such a tough division. I do feel that if we are reasonably healthy we are clearly the team to beat, and I’m hoping last year was the worst-case scenario healthwise.

    17. MJ
      December 30th, 2008 | 3:40 pm

      2008
      Sabathia – 44 RSAA, 253 IP
      Burnett – 5 RSAA, 221.1 IP
      Total – 49 RSAA, 474.1 IP

      Mussina – 24 RSAA, 200.1 IP
      Pettitte – -2 RSAA, 204 IP
      Total – 22 RSAA, 404.1 IP
      —————-
      More or less what I figured. It’s not even close here. Even if Sabathia and Burnett take minor steps back in 2009, there’s still a tangible upgrade and not a mere replacement as Steve indicates.

    18. butchie22
      December 30th, 2008 | 3:52 pm

      Think numbers and not names. Think of the numbers, the stats, the production from Mussina and Pettitte in 2008. That’s what CC and AJ have to match. It’s a high bar. Quote from Steve

      Steve , it’s absolutely imperative to remember that psychologically that pitching in NYC is different from pitching in Cleveland/ Milwaukee or Miami/Toronto. Both Moose and Pettitte have a body of work that shows that they can pitch in this environment. AS lauded as the other two are(the new Number 2 is actually perpertually derided by me), they still haven’t proved that they can intially be like Rocket(struggling in his first year) fitting like a glove(Moose) or totally missing the mark(Whitsun).

      If Wang and Joba cannot make 60 starts, etc., then you’ll be looking at the Cashman replacements – which are usually pitchers like Sidney Ponson. All the defensive improvement in the world won’t matter then Quote from Steve

      I agree with this assessment, even though Raf mentions the young kids. Those young kids could turn out like last year again and then Ponson does his third tour of duty as a Yankee! Voila. Cash Man has put his faith in the youngings before and we saw how that turned out. As I’ve said before, because of the rise of Tampa, every game really counts. So do the Yanks with their seeming limitless resources go with one of the kids for replacement, trade for a decent pitcher like Washburn or does Cash Man go to the Ponsons, Colons and other flotsam and jetsom of the world? My gut says the flotsam and jetsom………..

    19. Tresh Fan
      December 30th, 2008 | 3:54 pm

      And then there’s the elephant in the room—Mariano Rivera. Arguably coming off his best season ever, BUT 39 years old.

    20. butchie22
      December 30th, 2008 | 4:18 pm

      I do agree with the main premise of this post though. While I feel Teixeira, Sabathia, Burnett, and Swisher are upgrades, we are also losing quite a bit of production. Getting healthy, fairly productive seasons from Wang, Joba, Cano, and Posada will be necessary to win such a tough division. I do feel that if we are reasonably healthy we are clearly the team to beat, and I’m hoping last year was the worst-case scenario healthwise. Quote from Rambis

      I’m very big on the psychology/scouting issue on the new players as opposed to the sabremetric value. It takes a different type of player to make it in New York and I have no idea if CC, the New number 2, or Teix can make it here. Yes they are a talented bunch, but I saw Giambi and Abreu make it happen. IN essence, CC usually has slow starts, how is he gonna react with tons of reporters in his face unlike Cleveland or Milwaukee/ The New number Two has never , ever pitched a big game in his life and he couldn’t handle the baseball press in hockey crazed Toronto! AS for Teix, he is the best signing of the bunch but even still does he pull a Giambi and take time to acclimate? And Swish? Swish is a nice player, but will he be clutch enough to offset the power outage of last year compunded by Abreu and Giambi’s loss(even with Teix coming on board).

      IN additon, the Yanks look good on paper BUT Boston and Tampa still have an edge to me. Being that Tampa was the AL WAS rep and they are adding Price this year fulltime, they look really good. And Boston? Boston has the team concept/build within idea down pat. They look like a complete team to me (they need maybe one more reliever)and the same team is coming back with a healthier Papi and Lowell. In essence, I’m a little worried about the Yanks from several persepctives. One is the diminuition of the offense. The signing of Teix is a sign in the right direction, BUT everything is contingent on Arod, Cano and Jeter( MR GIDP) and company rebounding while losing Giambi and Abreu. The pitching. Both CC and the new Number 2 pitched quite a few innings last year and the New Number two has only won over 12 games …once. And Number 2 has been on the DL in the double digits since 2000 and has never pitched a big game. Speaking of which, CC is not the greatest post season pitcher. Then we get to Wang, as much as I like Chien Mien Wang is his health/durability becoming an issue or what? It kinda scares me when people use words like” healthy” in regards to this group as a contingency for this being the team to beat BECAUSE it looms so large that Cash Man didn’t pick up Sheets.

    21. Rambis35
      December 30th, 2008 | 4:44 pm

      The psychological issue is overblown. If it was so difficult to play in NY, the Yankees would not have won 26 World Series. Do some players falter in the spotlight? Probably. At the same time, just as many players thrive. In the end, great players produce anywhere, and Sabathia and Teixeira will almost certainly continue to be excellent.

      Burnett is overpaid, but with our resources it may turn out to be a worthwhile risk. However, one positive aspect is that he has performed at a decent level in the AL East, and is not likely to be fazed by continually facing top competition.

    22. Raf
      December 30th, 2008 | 4:50 pm

      Burnett is overpaid
      ——–
      Actually, he isn’t. From Fangraphs;

      Thanks to the new Marcel projections that were just added to the site last night, we can estimate Burnett’s 2009 performance pretty easily. Marcel projects him at 187 innings with a 3.87 FIP for next year, but we’ll round that to 190 innings and a 3.90 FIP just to make the math easier. Once again, we’re going to use a 5.50 FIP as replacement level for a starter and cap his innings at 160, and use a 4.50 FIP as replacement level for a reliever, who will make up the 30 inning difference. So here are the totals that we’re projecting:

      Burnett: 190 innings, 82 runs allowed
      Replacement Level Starter: 160 innings, 98 runs allowed
      Replacement Level Reliever: 30 innings, 15 runs allowed

      We’re projecting the replacement level pitchers to allow 113 runs, or 31 more than what we’re projecting for Burnett. That would translate to +3 wins for whoever signs him. We can once again add a bit of a bonus to account for his extra innings saving the bullpen, so let’s call Burnett a +3.3 win pitcher.

      3.3 wins * 5.5 million per win = $18.15 million in projected 2009 value. We again factor in a 10% discount rate to make up for the fact that he’s going to get a long term deal, and that gives us an annual average value of $16.4 million. Given Burnett’s history, it’s unlikely he’ll get more than four or five years. That puts his projected contract at 4 years/$66 million or 5 years/$82 million.

      Contract info from Cots
      5 years/$82.5M (2009-13)
      09-13:$16.5M annually

    23. Rambis35
      December 30th, 2008 | 4:57 pm

      I actually saw that on FanGraphs before. It does seem as if Burnett was a little unlucky last year, he had a ton of strikeouts and an unusually high BABIP (although his LD% increased and his GB% decreased, which might be a problem). If he can pitch 190 innings with a 3.87 ERA, I would agree he is worth 16.5 million. I think my issue is with the length of the contract, given Burnett’s injury history and lack of a GREAT season so far. I hope I’m wrong, but I am skeptical of Burnett giving us 5 excellent seasons. However, like I said before, the Yankees are in a position to take a chance, so I’m not overly upset with the deal.

    24. Rambis35
      December 30th, 2008 | 5:01 pm

      “AS for Teix, he is the best signing of the bunch but even still does he pull a Giambi and take time to acclimate”
      ______________________________

      In 2002, Giambi’s first year with the Yankees, he produced a 75 RCAA/1.034 OPS season. I can only hope Teixeira adjusts to the bigger market like Giambi.

    25. jmeisner
      December 30th, 2008 | 5:48 pm

      And then there’s the elephant in the room—Mariano Rivera. Arguably coming off his best season ever, BUT 39 years old.

      —————–

      Yeah, and he’s also coming back from off-season surgery. No one really likes to talk about Mo’s inevitable decline.

    26. jvega23
      December 30th, 2008 | 7:03 pm

      A patch man how you don’t see the whole picture. Even if CC and Burnett don’t give them the same combine wins as Pettite or Musinna. You forget the Yankees struggle were the 3-4-5 pitchers. CC and Burnett allow everyone to drop on spot in the rotation which gives the yankees much needed deph in the rotation Wang, Joba, and possibly Hughes or Pettite are better than Ponson, Ian, Hughes were combined last year. Giambi and Abreu were good but Giambi batting .220 and was taking out of games for base running and defensive purpose Texiera solves all that he won’t be taken out for any of that because he has better defense, batting average, power, and speed than Giambi.

    27. butchie22
      December 30th, 2008 | 7:41 pm

      The psychological issue is overblown. If it was so difficult to play in NY, the Yankees would not have won 26 World Series. Do some players falter in the spotlight? Probably. At the same time, just as many players thrive. In the end, great players produce anywhere, and Sabathia and Teixeira will almost certainly continue to be excellent.Quote by Rambis
      Unh? Weaver was traded for Lilly and Lilly could hack it here and Weaver couldn’t. Jared Wright,Kenny Rogers Pavano, Kevin Brown and etc so on so forth couldn’t hack it here despite doing it elsewhere. Psychology is underrated,mate. Look at Arod’s numbers, he seems like the greatest thing since wonder bread. Arod has million dollar talent, great compiling results and he is very unclutch. You mean to tell me that he hasn’t been effected by the pressure in NYC? The Sabremetric geeks who have recently come around to acknowledging clutch , so that tells you what I think of them…more on that later. In addition, you have no way of knowing whether or not Teix or CC can hack it here. A good test case study would be if they played for Philly, both New york teams or Boston.The last time I checked both of these players played in the happy dick Midwest(CC) and laidback Cali, Atlanta(where they couldn’t even sellout playoff games) and Texas (Teix).A very good test case study for any player being able to play in NYC, would be if they had played in Boston, Philly or for the Mets. And is in these cities, that players are not treated sweetly like St Louis but are savaged. Yankee Stadium is sold out every nite and the press is hanging on every bloody word that a player says, do you think that happens in Orange County or in Cleveland? Certain players have proven they can’t play here , it takes a special breed. The reason they’ve won so many championships is an issue of chemistry, winning attitude, great players AND very importantly, PLAYERS THAT CAN PLAY IN NY.The Yankee players have extra pressure because the Steinbrenners have that win at all cost attitude, some players rise to the occassion and some don’t.And as if you bloody well didn’t notice, they haven’t won one in the last 8 years. In that time, the Javy Vazquezes, Contrerases (who wilted here,BUT who won a ring in Chicago),Jeff Weavers and etc have come and gone because they couldn’t hack it here.

      In 2002, Giambi’s first year with the Yankees, he produced a 75 RCAA/1.034 OPS season. I can only hope Teixeira adjusts to the bigger market like Giambi.Quote from Rambis

      This is why I hate sabremetrics without scouting, it never tells the whole story. Giambi took a few weeks to get it together and actually produce when he arrived in NY. AS to my recollection, fans were unhappy that the 120 million dollar man didn’t get it done immediately. Giambi wasn’t that bad in the field ,his first year BUT wasn’t that great. In essence, unless you have a crystal ball, you ,I or no one else can tell if a player can play for a Northeastern team unless they have done it. Good luck to Teix and CC and I hope they make it.

      , I would agree he is worth 16.5 million. I think my issue is with the length of the contract, given Burnett’s injury history and lack of a GREAT season so far. I hope I’m wrong, but I am skeptical of Burnett giving us 5 excellent seasons. However, like I said before, the Yankees are in a position to take a chance, so I’m not overly upset with the deal. Quote from Rambis

      Rambis, we agree! amazing, unh? The New Number Two is a very soft player, who is often injured and has never pitched a big game in his life. He has also been on the DL ,11 times since 2000. That is a great cause for concern.He simply is not a consistent enough pitcher in terms of his performance AND his health. don’t think that the Yanks can take a chance because there are now 3 teams vying for first place( the Jays have taken a big hit, but still won’t be a pushover). Every game will count and if Number Two and let’s say Wang are injured, who do we see ? Sir Sidney, once more? The years scare me, but that only proves the semi-idiocy that pervades some of the people in the front office. They gave this joker twice the money of Pavano and one more year? Didn’t they learn their lesson? If the New Number Two is a fiasco, hopefully that will contribute to Cash Man’s demise/removal from Yankee Empire!

    28. Raf
      December 30th, 2008 | 10:40 pm

      Psychology is underrated,mate.
      ———
      Psychology is overrated in baseball. See the ball, hit the ball, catch the ball. There isn’t sufficient time to analyze things in baseball.

      Anyway, WRT your post, the stats don’t back your claim.

    29. Evan3457
      December 31st, 2008 | 12:52 am

      When you factor in the Yankees terrible team defense last year, it’s no wonder why they were a near middle-of-the pack team in terms of winning percentage in 2008.
      =====================================
      Psst…would someone please tell Steve that with Hughes and Kennedy failing, with Ramirez and Veras faltering, with the disatrous injuries to Matsui, Posada, Wang and Joba, and with the disastrous falloffs of Cano and Melky…

      …the Yanks were still the 4th best team in the AL, by winning percentage.

      6th best in RS/RA differential, at +62, right behind the Angels, at +68. Why was the Angels W-L record so much better? The bullpen, maybe. Belief in themselves and their manager? Maybe.
      ===========================================
      As regards to the changes…let’s run it down by position…

      C. Posada +40 runs offensively; -30 runs defensively. Gain: +10.

      1B. Texiera +10 runs offensively (mainly due to him being able to play everyday), +20 runs defensively.

      2B. Cano had an awful years on both sides. If he comes back just halfway to where he was in 2007, which would make him a little above average in both, that’s +25 runs offensively, and +10 runs defensively.

      SS. I could say Jeter will have a better year offensively because he won’t be playing with a busted hand for 2-3 months, but he’ll probably get hurt some other way. His defense will slide some as well, I figure. Call it a total of -5 runs combined, due to general aging pattern.

      3B. A-Rod was down about 50 runs offensively from 2007. He won’t get back there, but he should rebound some. Typically, you’d expect +25 runs, but he’s had 3 down years, and 2 MVP years, with nothing in between since he came to New York. I’ll fudge here, and call for +20 runs offensively. Defense: -5 runs, due to general aging.

      LF. Damon had an up year last year. I’ll call for -5 runs due to general aging. Defense: should stay about the same.

      CF. Whether it’s Melky or Gardner, whoever wins the job and holds it will be at least 20 runs better than last season. If it’s Gardner, it’ll be a +5 runs defensively as well.

      RF. Nady; here’s the big hit. -25 runs of offense. He had a career year last season; not likely to repeat in the offspeed league. However, because he’s an average RF, he’s a +15 on defense over Abreu.

      DH. Split mostly between Matsui, Giambi and Damon. Will be mostly Matsui and Swisher, looks like. Call it -10 runs, overall. Swisher is worse than Giambi, slightly worse than Damon (in a typical Swisher year), and Matsui should be slightly better overall.

      Lineup is +75 runs on offense. Defense: +5 runs overall.

      Rotation

      1. Sabathia vs. Mussina. A push on performance. Sabathia will extend it by about 25-30 innings, saving an addition 5 runs or so.

      2. Wang vs. Wang/Ponson. If he stays healthy, that’s +25 runs, give or take.

      3. Burnett vs. Pettitte. If Burnett stays healthy, that’s +10 runs. If he misses 1/3 of the season, it’s a push.

      4. Joba vs. Joba and Rasner. If he can stay helathy enough to pitch 150 innings, that’s +10 runs, maybe more.

      5. Hughes vs. Hughes, Kennedy, Loseby, Stiff, Rehab and Idle: Either Hughes will pitch better, or they’ll get someone who will, or they’ll stumble in this slot again. For now, call it a push.

      Assume the bullpen is about the same. Pitching staff is +30, assuming Wang stays healthy, and Joba and Burnett don’t.

      So…offense +75….defense and pitching -35 combined. Runs scored: 865 or so. Runs allowed: 695 or so. Run differential +170, which would be better than the best figure in the league last year (Boston: +151). It figures to a Pythagorean W-L pct of .608, or 98-64, which puts them firmly in the race, pretty much no matter what Boston and Tampa do.

      This analaysis requires nothing more than A-Rod, Wang, Cano and Posada return to their average performance, and that there aren’t any catastrphic injuries to other key players. Like Jeter, for whom there is no adequate replacement in the organization right now. Of these, the most risky is Posada.

    30. butchie22
      December 31st, 2008 | 7:35 am

      Psychology is overrated in baseball. See the ball, hit the ball, catch the ball. There isn’t sufficient time to analyze things in baseball Quote from Raf

      Raf, are we watching the same games , mate? Afrod, outside of NYC looks like the second coming of Babe Ruth BUT talk to all those Yankees fans that continually booed him time and time again and you’ll get a different answer. He couldn’t buy a clutch hit last year and the stats back that up. The booing definitely had an effect on Afrod in years prior , so please let’s not spin with stats BECAUSE fans who watched this guy saw that A he wasn’t the second coming of Babe Ruth and B He was not a great performer in most high pressure situations. One can use of the measure of that late and tight sometimes out of context ( people pointed out in the past how Alex was second to Papi in one of these past seasons) BECAUSE I’d rather have Manram or Big Papi in a situation rather than Afrod!

      Stats don’t back up what I said? That is positively humorous. You know what backs up what I said: here we go again….. Vasquez and Brown did a nice job of letting the Red Sox have the most epic comeback in baseball history. Vasquez had been signed to a multi-year extension and Cash Man traded him when he realized that this guy might not be cut out for NY. He was traded for Randy Johnson. RJ did decently enough on paper, but he wanted out in the end. He wasn’t a NY type of player. I loved it when Brown punched a wall in Sept of 2004, when he was frustrated. He eventually became another non NY CashMan flop and he couldn’t even trade him because he had so much money owed to that serious malcontent . And let’s not forget who he was traded for, Weaver. His numbers in Detroit was better for different seasons. A Weaver didn’t have a sold out crowd booing him when he screwed up B He pitched under no pressure in Detroit C He pitched in what was arguably the ultimate pitcher’s park in the AL. The pressure got to Weaver here, didn’t it? He’s another one like Conteras who couldn’t hack it here BUT won a ring in another less pressure filled environment. Should I mention Whitsun and others ad nausem? The facts bear out one thing, is that there are players that can play in the hot cauldron of the Bronx (and the Northeast) and many who cannot. Why do you think the Yanks pick up so many Mets and Red Sox players? It’s not only to tweak the other teams, they know they can play here. One more guy, Kenny Rogers. Didn’t it sicken you when he was acting like he won the WS for the 96 Yankees, he’s another one that couldn’t hack it here. It was more sickening that he was a desired player 10 years after he flopped for the Yankees. Remember that playoff game when he beat the Yanks a few years back (aided and abetted by some sticky stuff no doubt)? It was disgusting to see someone who couldn’t handle the bright lights here stick it to the Yanks in the playoffs elsewhere, unh?It’s funny when there is no psychological pressure on a player, how well he can perform. Essentially, they can’t handle the bright lights of the big city so to speak. There are too many guys that they have picked up that couldn’t hack it here and that’s backed up by one simple thing: they were all gone with the exception of Afrod. Don’t tell me , psychology is underrated in baseball when arguably the best player, Arod sees, not 1 BUT 3 shrinks!

    31. December 31st, 2008 | 8:20 am

      ~~…the Yanks were still the 4th best team in the AL, by winning percentage. ~~

      And, they were a $200 million team who was just 8 games over .500 at the end of the day.

    32. Raf
      December 31st, 2008 | 9:16 am

      Raf, are we watching the same games , mate? Afrod, outside of NYC looks like the second coming of Babe Ruth BUT talk to all those Yankees fans that continually booed him time and time again and you’ll get a different answer
      ———
      Probably because they’re morons. We have loads of quantifiable evidence that says otherwise. But they’re entitled to their opinion, even though it isn’t based in reality :D

    33. Raf
      December 31st, 2008 | 9:17 am

      Stats don’t back up what I said? That is positively humorous. You know what backs up what I said: here we go again….. Vasquez and Brown did a nice job of letting the Red Sox have the most epic comeback in baseball history.
      ———-
      So did Mariano Rivera. What’s your point?

    34. Raf
      December 31st, 2008 | 9:19 am

      Vasquez had been signed to a multi-year extension and Cash Man traded him when he realized that this guy might not be cut out for NY.
      ————-
      When a pitcher of Johnson’s caliber becomes available, you pick him up. Think along the lines of trading David Wells for Roger Clemens. The Yanks were fine with Wells, but Clemens is or was on another level.

      Vazquez is a very good pitcher, but Johnson’s going to the Hall of Fame.

    35. Raf
      December 31st, 2008 | 9:20 am

      His numbers in Detroit was better for different seasons. A Weaver didn’t have a sold out crowd booing him when he screwed up B He pitched under no pressure in Detroit C He pitched in what was arguably the ultimate pitcher’s park in the AL.
      ————-
      Ok, so what happened when he pitched for the Dodgers, Angels, Cardinals & Mariners?

    36. Raf
      December 31st, 2008 | 9:22 am

      He’s another one like Conteras who couldn’t hack it here BUT won a ring in another less pressure filled environment
      ————-
      The fact that you think that pitching for the Yanks is more difficult than, say, pitching for the Cuban National team, or defecting from Cuba, is laughable.

    37. Raf
      December 31st, 2008 | 9:23 am

      Should I mention Whitsun and others ad nausem?
      ——
      Pleas do. Whitson was never really that good. The stats show that. He sucked before he came to NY, he sucked while in NY, he sucked after he left NY.

    38. Raf
      December 31st, 2008 | 9:25 am

      One more guy, Kenny Rogers. Didn’t it sicken you when he was acting like he won the WS for the 96 Yankees, he’s another one that couldn’t hack it here.
      ————-
      His numbers posted in 1996 were in line with his career. 1997 wasn’t.

    39. Raf
      December 31st, 2008 | 9:26 am

      It was disgusting to see someone who couldn’t handle the bright lights here stick it to the Yanks in the playoffs elsewhere, unh?
      ——-
      He had a good game. It happens. Law of averages, and everything.

    40. Raf
      December 31st, 2008 | 9:29 am

      And, they were a $200 million team who was just 8 games over .500 at the end of the day.
      ——-
      Yep, due to the factors mentioned. This isn’t the 1993 Mets we’re talking about.

    41. butchie22
      December 31st, 2008 | 12:53 pm

      The fact that you think that pitching for the Yanks is more difficult than, say, pitching for the Cuban National team, or defecting from Cuba, is laughable.Quote from Raf

      It didn’t stop Contreras from pitching well in Chicago in 2005! It’s more difficult to play for the ChiSox than the Cuban National team BUT it’s even more difficult to play for the Yankees. Let’s face it he couldn’t handle the pressure and was thankfully traded. Case closed.

      One more guy, Kenny Rogers. Didn’t it sicken you when he was acting like he won the WS for the 96 Yankees, he’s another one that couldn’t hack it here. Quote from Raf

      This is why I despise stats by themselves. Arod is the greatest compiler BUT scouting him and watching him , he is a veritable dissapointment. How did Kenny Rogers do in the playoffs when the heat was on? He had a 14.14 ERA! When the spotlight came on, he wilted. He pitched a good game against NY despite the odds for a myriad number of reasons LEAST of which was “the blind squirrel catches an acorn” theory you postulate. The only good thing that came out of this Rogers mess was Brosius.

      Whitson sucked? He hovered around the high 3s and low 4s for his ERA….that is hardly sucking. He couldn’t take the fans heckling and booing , he was weak. Once again, not a Philly/Boston/NYC player. Felix Heredia only had a weirder type of meltdown in Flushing, that’s how weird the Whitson run was!

      No offense, but are you joking with Weaver? Weaver was so rattled by his Yankee experience and it took Dave Duncan to finally straighten him up! He did OK in his first year with LA, but did well enough to get a ring back in 2006. He pitched pretty well against Detroit and the Mets. It’s funny that Mussina, Giambi, and Arod all don’t have a ring yet Weaver does…ah the irony of it all. AS an aggregate, he hasn’t lived up to his potential BUT I believe that the confrontational hordes and pressure got to him….Nuff Said.

      YOu also missed the point on Johnson. Cash Man originall wanted Schill couldn’t get him, went for Vasquez (traded Rivera and Johnson), who had a good first half and then worsened to the point where he was avoided during the playoffs. Most Red Sox fans will never forget Vasquez’s performance during Game 7 ACLS 2004. That was a dark day for Yankee fans. Vasquez simply couldn’t hack it in NY. Johnson was on the other side of being a really great pitcher AND he didn’t do that well in the playoffs in NY. He wasn’t the Big Unit of old but Johnson’s trade shows Cash Man’s stupidity. He traded, Johnson,Rivera, Vasquez(who he signed long term) plus other players for Johnson THEN the Yankees threw money and years at an ancient pitcher. Cash Man got something back for the Unit,which showed he wasn’t a complete idiot BUT He spent a lot of time ,money and prospects to cover up his Vasquez mistake. All for a pitcher that couldn’t hack it in NY!

    42. Raf
      December 31st, 2008 | 2:17 pm

      It didn’t stop Contreras from pitching well in Chicago in 2005!
      ————-
      Didn’t stop Contreras from pitching well for the Yanks in 2003 either.

    43. Raf
      December 31st, 2008 | 2:28 pm

      How did Kenny Rogers do in the playoffs when the heat was on? He had a 14.14 ERA!
      ———–
      So, are playoff games different in Detroit? No pressure? Are they different on the road?

    44. Raf
      December 31st, 2008 | 2:41 pm

      Whitson sucked? He hovered around the high 3s and low 4s for his ERA….that is hardly sucking.
      ———
      Whitson was lousy with the Giants, Pirates and Padres before signing with the Yanks. He performed below league average with them. Why should we be surprised that he did the same with the Yanks?

    45. Raf
      December 31st, 2008 | 2:48 pm

      Weaver was so rattled by his Yankee experience and it took Dave Duncan to finally straighten him up!
      ————
      To the tune of a 5.18 ERA? You can’t be serious.

    46. Raf
      December 31st, 2008 | 2:52 pm

      Vasquez simply couldn’t hack it in NY.
      ———
      I suppose he forgot who he was pitching for the 1st half of 2004.

    47. Raf
      December 31st, 2008 | 2:56 pm

      He traded, Johnson,Rivera, Vasquez(who he signed long term) plus other players for Johnson
      ———–
      Johnson was a spare part who has a hard time staying healthy. Rivera was a platoon OF, CHoate was a LHP who couldn’t throw strikes. Navarro wasn’t going to start anytime soon, and Halsey was a back of the rotation starter, even if that

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