• Matthews: Yanks Better This Year Than Last

    Posted by on January 24th, 2010 · Comments (4)

    Bob Matthews of the Times-Union and Democrat and Chronicle offers his opinion on the 2010 Yankees:

    If the Yankees don’t win at least 105 games this season, I’ll be surprised. They finished 103-59 last season and I believe this year’s team will be better. Here’s why:

    Alex Rodriguez won’t miss the first six weeks of the season coming off hip surgery.

    Curtis Granderson is a big upgrade in center field and Nick Johnson should adequately replace departed Hideki Matsui at DH.

    Javier Vazquez should win at least 15 games as the No. 3 starting pitcher. CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Vazquez, Andy Pettitte and Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes is an impressive starting rotation.

    The bullpen could be surprisingly effective (Hughes or Chamberlain, Alfredo Aceves, David Robertson, Damaso Marte and Chad Gaudin, plus closer Mariano Rivera.)

    I don’t believe Brett Gardner will be the heavy-duty left fielder. My guess is that free agent Johnny Damon will return. If he signs elsewhere, the Yankees will be looking for someone else other than Gardner.

    I believe the 2010 Yankees have the potential to have a better pitching staff than the 1998 Yankees, but here’s why I don’t think they can win 114 games:
    Boston and Tampa Bay are strong AL East rivals and figure to hold their own against the Yankees.

    Age will become a factor sooner or later. Jorge Posada turns 39 on Aug. 17 and his days as a heavy-duty catcher are numbered. Derek Jeter turns 36 on June 26. That’s old for a shortstop. Rodriguez turns 35 on July 27. Rivera is 40.

    If Gardner is the left fielder, I don’t believe he can match the production of 1998 left fielder Chad Curtis (.243, 21 doubles, 1 triple, 10 HRs, 56 RBI, 21 stolen bases).
    The 1998 Yankees outscored opponents by 309 runs (965-656). The 2009 Yankees outscored opponents by 162 runs (915-753). I believe the run differential for the 2010 Yankees will be between +162 and +309.

    Wow. That’s a big difference from what Matthews had to say about the Yankees four years ago.

    Me? I still feel like 2009 was a magical season for the Yankees where just about everything went right. Whether that was due to luck, design, or whatever is open for debate – of course. But, I know that you cannot expect to match or better such a season – at least not in back-to-back fashion.

    Will the Yankees win 95 games in 2010? Yes, I’m fairly certain of this – and if they don’t win that many games then something went very wrong in Yankeeland.

    But, will New York win 103, 105 or 114 games in 2010? Well, that’s not something that I would bet on…how about you?

    Comments on Matthews: Yanks Better This Year Than Last

    1. pete
      January 24th, 2010 | 2:04 pm

      I wouldn’t bet on over 100. There’s just too much that has to go right in this division to have a win total like that. Last year we lost wang and nady, but nobody who actually played had a bad year it seemed, and we had what, 16 walkoff wins? 50-odd comebacks? It’s definitely tough to repeat that kind of performance.

      On the other hand, I do believe the yankees have shored up that “luck differential”, as i like to call it, by adding a legitimate mid-rotation innings horse in Vazquez, and improving the overall outfield defense. But Gardner is, for all intents and purposes, replacing melky, not damon. Damon’s offensive production from a 2nd outfield spot (i.e., not nick swisher), has been replaced pretty effectively, i believe, by curtis granderson, who should be able to make up any offensive difference with much much better defense. Gardner’s offense will also likely be a bit behind Melky’s, but he should also play much better defense, and thereby make up the difference. I would also anticipate that joba pitches like he did in his first 100 or so innings last year for much longer – not the entire season, since having a previous high of 157 means he will probably tire as he gets into the 160s and up, but we should have 5/6 of a season of a very very good 5th starter. Hopefully by that time, there will be somebody to take his place in the rotation (hughes/gaudin/mitre/mccallister/whoever) so as to avoid the awkward innings situation from last year, and instead just shut him down when he starts to really fatigue (my guess would be around early september), give him a couple weeks of rest, then if it seems necessary get him ready to pitch out of the pen in the playoffs. I think it’s important that people realize that while the innings limits are said to be “gone” for joba, he really isn’t a 200+ inning pitcher yet, and isn’t really all that close. He should be strong for a while, but every inning past 157 will be further stretching him from last year. 2011 should be his true unleashing, and hopefully by that point he’s a sub-4.00 ERA, 200+ inning guy.

      Anyways, i’ve digressed quite a bit. My main point was that I essentially agree with you. The team is, on paper, better than it was DURING THE SEASON last year. Before the year started, however, when Wang was supposed to be good again, a-rod wasn’t supposed to miss 6 weeks, and nady/swish was supposed to be a competition in the same vein as melky/gardner (which probably could have netted 40+ hrs from the RF spot), the team was every bit as good as this one is, if not better. If we reacquire Damon, then we’ll have the same kind of offensive depth. If not, we’ll have to “cross our fingers” and hope that the other 8 hitters in our lineup are able to carry us offensively (one would think they could). Therefore, I would not bet on over 100 wins happening, because while we can say this and that won’t happen like it did last year, there’s a very good chance that other things do happen that didn’t last year, including not having a team OPS over .800 from the 7th inning on. Nonetheless, something would have to go SERIOUSLY wrong for us to not make the playoffs or win fewer than 94/95 games. I’m going with 99.

    2. 77yankees
      January 24th, 2010 | 3:57 pm

      In 2002 the Yanks won eight more regular season games than the team that preceded it in 2001 that was two outs from the world championship. The 2002 team also improved its run differential by 110 over the previous season.

      Then they had no answer in the ALDS to the Angels, so while the regular season win totals and run differentials are great and get you into the postseason, it doesn’t mean a thing once the records reset to zero in October.

    3. Tresh Fan
      January 25th, 2010 | 12:08 am

      1.) The Times-Union went out of business in 1997. The D&C–as it’s more familiarly called—is Matthews’s soap box.

      2.) Matthews is famous for taking 180s in his opinions on national sports. Or simply for making outrageous statements. For instance, close to the end of Jose Conseco’s carreer Matthews opined that the juiced up slugger should be elected to the Hall of Fame if he finished with 500 or more HRs, but not if he finished with, say, 498 or 499 dingers.

    4. Evan3457
      January 25th, 2010 | 5:55 pm

      When I read the title of this piece, I nearly fainted.

      I didn’t know who Bob Matthews was.

      For a moment, I thought that Wally (Crapbird) Matthews had had a religious epiphany, and actually wrote a piece that didn’t crap all over someone or some thing.

      I should’ve known better.

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