• Yanks Now Underdogs?

    Posted by on December 21st, 2010 · Comments (26)

    Good stuff today via Bob Klapisch

    It’s no stretch to say this has been a sobering offseason for the Yankees, who were 0-for-December in their pursuit of free agents, went through a contentious negotiation just to get their own captain, Derek Jeter, back in pinstripes and, for now, have been surpassed by the Red Sox as the American League’s team to beat.

    Incredibly, the Yankees look like baseball’s most expensive underdogs with a $200 million payroll. GM Brian Cashman says “patience” is the new operative plan, but to a fan base that’s used to seeing the Bombers get their way, he might as well be speaking Mandarin.

    Talk about culture shock: Suddenly, it’s the Sox who’ve turned into the AL’s biggest spenders, able to snare not just Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, but even a significant bit piece for the bullpen, Bobby Jenks. The Yankees’ countermove was to sign Pedro Feliciano, which has everyone wondering what happened to the can-do ethos that netted CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett practically all at once in 2008?

    The Yankees believe [agent] Darek Braunecker misled them into thinking [Cliff] Lee was sufficiently interested in playing in the Bronx, enough for the Steinbrenner family to put up $148 million. The Yankees are convinced they were used, which might come back to haunt Braunecker and his other client, who just happens to be Burnett.

    “(Braunecker) is going to need us more than (we) need him,” one official cautioned. That might be true in 2013, when Burnett’s contract expires. In the meantime, however, the Yankees are desperate for Burnett to make a comeback, especially if Andy Pettitte chooses to retire.

    With Pettitte, the Yankees have a shot at the playoffs; they’re a 92-95 win team that figures to win the wild card. Without him, the Bombers appear to be cooked, unless Cashman can make a blockbuster deal for a starting pitcher before the July 31 trading deadline.

    That’s where the “patience” edict comes into play. Cashman is asking fans to hang tight while the Yankees hopefully stay close to the Red Sox. That means rebound seasons not just from Burnett, but Jeter and Alex Rodriguez as well. By most industry estimates, Boston is about to embark on a 100-win season, which means the Yankees’ best-case scenario is to cobble together a playoff-caliber rotation that’ll support the (still) formidable offense.

    You know, the Orioles played at a 96-win pace one Buck Showalter came on board. Granted, they can’t do that in 2011 over a full season. But, if they win 88 games next year, the Yankees may just have to worry more about the O’s biting on their rear than they do having to keep up with the Red Sox. The Yankees have to play the Rays, Red Sox, Blue Jays and O’s around 76 times in 2011. With the Yankees current starting rotation, how many of those games can they hope to win?

    Comments on Yanks Now Underdogs?

    1. MJ Recanati
      December 21st, 2010 | 1:24 pm

      You know, the Orioles played at a 96-win pace one Buck Showalter came on board. Granted, they can’t do that in 2011 over a full season. But, if they win 88 games next year, the Yankees may just have to worry more about the O’s biting on their rear than they do having to keep up with the Red Sox. The Yankees have to play the Rays, Red Sox, Blue Jays and O’s around 76 times in 2011. With the Yankees current starting rotation, how many of those games can they hope to win?
      —–
      The “sky is falling” alarmist song is being sung again.

      The Yankees can expect to win plenty of games, even with the rotation they have now. The Orioles are not winning 88 games in 2011. I’ll gladly make a bet with you on the “under”.

    2. December 21st, 2010 | 2:00 pm

      As many issues as I have with Cashman, I don’t think the Orioles will be an issue in 2011.

      Also, I didn’t quite get this point here from the article:

      “(Braunecker) is going to need us more than (we) need him,” one official cautioned. That might be true in 2013, when Burnett’s contract expires. In the meantime, however, the Yankees are desperate for Burnett to make a comeback, especially if Andy Pettitte chooses to retire.”

      Huh? That’s spin from the Yankee front office that makes zero sense. If Braunecker has a client the Yankees want, they will deal with him. Besides, how can the Yankee front office see anything wrong with what he did, when Teixeira basically did the same thing with the Red Sox?

    3. MJ Recanati
      December 21st, 2010 | 2:07 pm

      lisaswan wrote:

      That’s spin from the Yankee front office that makes zero sense.

      If it is even from the Yankee front office. Fabricated quotes from unsourced individuals happen all the time.

    4. Ryan81
      December 21st, 2010 | 2:33 pm

      As for the question posed in the title: Yes. The Yankees are, on paper, not the best team in their division. That’s basically the very definition of underdog, especially in a matchup against the Red Sox. Granted if they went out and got like King Felix and Josh Johnson, things change. But unless Cashman adds a very nice arm (or two) at the deadline, I don’t see much changing that.

      @ lisaswan:
      I can see it. The logic there is that the Yankees are pretty upset with Burnett’s stock falling after last year’s performance and they control Burnett’s future. This will lead Burnett to being on a short leash and possibly getting the Wang/Pavano/Igawa treatment of being sent to the minors (which will surely hurt his career). By the Yankees getting tenuous with Burnett, the agent will get less on the next contract or worse: fired.

      It’s obviously flawed thinking from somebody who doesn’t know a thing about baseball; which is why it probably came from the Yankee front office. My odds say 3-1 on Levine saying it, 5-1 for Hank (I don’t think it was, not nearly as biting for it to be a Steinbrenner quote), 10-1 for Trost, the sisters, and the gardener stepson, 20-1 on the nerds that Cashman listened to when he signed Nick Johnson, 25-1 on Hal, and 50-1 on Cashman himself. Yeah, I think I hit everybody in the organization that doesn’t know squat about baseball.

    5. Scout
      December 21st, 2010 | 2:45 pm

      Hank Steinbrenner is God’s argument in favor of steep inheritance taxes.

    6. MJ Recanati
      December 21st, 2010 | 2:52 pm

      Scout wrote:

      Hank Steinbrenner is God’s argument in favor of steep inheritance taxes.

      Be careful of what you wish for. The Yankees are better off with the current ownership than, say Donald Trump or Jim Dolan.

    7. MJ Recanati
      December 21st, 2010 | 2:53 pm

      @ Ryan81:
      As a major league veteran, AJ Burnett can’t go down to the minors without his consent. He’ll sooner be traded than sent to AAA, if only because putting him in AAA dilutes his trade value even further (presuming that his performance warrants either a visit to the minors or jettisoning via trade).

    8. MJ Recanati
      December 21st, 2010 | 2:55 pm

      Ryan81 wrote:

      It’s obviously flawed thinking from somebody who doesn’t know a thing about baseball; which is why it probably came from the Yankee front office. My odds say 3-1 on Levine saying it, 5-1 for Hank (I don’t think it was, not nearly as biting for it to be a Steinbrenner quote), 10-1 for Trost, the sisters, and the gardener stepson, 20-1 on the nerds that Cashman listened to when he signed Nick Johnson, 25-1 on Hal, and 50-1 on Cashman himself. Yeah, I think I hit everybody in the organization that doesn’t know squat about baseball.

      In other words, it is your opinion that the entire Yankee organization knows nothing about baseball and that the entire organization — more successful than any franchise in the history of the game and over the past 17 seasons — is run by a stable of jackasses. Is that correct?

    9. December 21st, 2010 | 2:58 pm

      @ Ryan81:
      “I can see it. The logic there is that the Yankees are pretty upset with Burnett’s stock falling after last year’s performance and they control Burnett’s future. This will lead Burnett to being on a short leash and possibly getting the Wang/Pavano/Igawa treatment of being sent to the minors (which will surely hurt his career). By the Yankees getting tenuous with Burnett, the agent will get less on the next contract or worse: fired.”

      They can’t just send Burnett to the minors (and that treatment never happened to Pavano, either). A.J.’s got enough time/years that they can’t do that to him. The Mets couldn’t do it with Oliver Perez, and the Yanks can’t do it to A.J. The Yankees have zero leverage here, which is why this anonymously-sourced comment is all the more baffling. (Although I do believe it did come from the front office — Klapisch can have some bizarre takes on things, but he doesn’t make stuff up.)

    10. Evan3457
      December 21st, 2010 | 3:01 pm

      Well, yes; if the Red Sox are the favorites to win the division, then the Yanks, by definition, would be underdogs to win it.

      The reality is more likely that no one is a favorite in the sense that no one is better than 50% to win the division…the Red Sox might be a 45% favorite, with the Yanks at say, 25%, the Rays at 17%, the Jays at 12%, and the O’s at say, 1% (or less).

      Or maybe the Sox are a prohbitive pre-season favorite. Who is to say, really?

    11. MJ Recanati
      December 21st, 2010 | 3:07 pm

      lisaswan wrote:

      Klapisch can have some bizarre takes on things, but he doesn’t make stuff up.)

      Not saying you’re right or wrong, just wondering how you know for sure? I know Lupica, Madden and Sherman make stuff up from time to time so I don’t see why Klapisch wouldn’t.

    12. Ryan81
      December 21st, 2010 | 3:14 pm

      @ MJ Recanati:
      a.) It’s a joke. Ba-dum, ching.
      b.) Most of those people (other than maybe Cashman who was basically the only person I listed employed by the Yankees over most of those 17 seasons) have ZERO claim to the building of the dynasty. None. Nada. Zilch.
      c.) I don’t think highly of the baseball acumen of most of the front office. Basically, I think that they’re no different than the revolving door of buffoons that run the Pirates, except a.) the Yankees front office inherited a winning team with Hall of Fame players (Jeter and Rivera, with Pettitte, Posada, and Bernie Williams as borderline) and b.) the Yankees have about 10 times the amount of capital the Pirates have.

      As for everyone else’s claim about Burnett, I know that Burnett needs to give his blessing to be demoted. I also distinctly remember the Yankees asking Pavano to be reassigned in the final year of his deal so the Yankees can make room for somebody else on the 40 man roster, and Pavano basically said no, which led to more tabloid fodder about how much of a cancer the guy is. Same thing with Perez. The fact that Burnett will need to sign off on a demotion will not stop the Yankees front office from asking him and then bitching and moaning about how awful Burnett is as a player and clubhouse cancer if he refused that assignment. And if there is one thing the offseason has taught you, the Yankees will spare no punches when going after a player’s public image.

    13. Rich M
      December 21st, 2010 | 3:23 pm

      @ Ryan81:
      Pavano wasn’t asked to be reassigned to the minors. He wasn’t even taking up a spot on the 40 man roster. He was on the 60 day dl most of his tenure which frees up a 40 man spot. The only veteran asked or a rumor floated by the front office to be assigned to the minors was Giambi.

    14. EHawk
      December 21st, 2010 | 3:36 pm

      Ok lets look at the Yanks and Red Sox current lineups and see who is better:

      1B: Tex vs. AGon I’d say slight edge to Tex cause he has been in AL most his career and familiar with AL East.

      2B: Cano vs. Pedoria Edge to Cano

      SS: Jeter vs. Scutaro Edge to Jeter

      3B: Arod vs. Youk Edge to Arod but its pretty close at this point

      LF: Crawford vs. Gardner Edge to Crawford but its not that far apart

      CF: Granderson vs. Elsbury/Cameron Edge to Granderson by a bit

      RF: Swisher vs. Drew Edge to Swisher…Drew is declined last year

      C: Martin vs. whoever Edge to Yanks they have depth if Martin fails

      DH: Posada vs. Ortiz Very slight edge to Ortiz because he has been doing it a lot longer.

      SPs: Edge to Sox if Andy comes back then its not a huge edge…Sox have questions too with Beckett, Lackey and DiceK and if Yanks make a deal for an ace then its even.

      RP: Edge to Yanks We have Mo and they don’t.

      Coaching: Edge to Sox…Francona is just better then Girardi in almost every way.

      That is my honest assessment of each teams current roster. We will see how things shake out this year but I think it will be a close race and both teams make the playoffs barring any major injuries.

    15. MJ Recanati
      December 21st, 2010 | 3:40 pm

      Ryan81 wrote:

      I don’t think highly of the baseball acumen of most of the front office. Basically, I think that they’re no different than the revolving door of buffoons that run the Pirates…

      The only member of the front office that runs baseball matters is Brian Cashman and his staff. Randy Levine and Lonn Trost aren’t involved. So I guess the fact that you don’t think highly of their baseball acumen is probably a moot point because they don’t handle matters regarding baseball operations.

      Ryan81 wrote:

      The fact that Burnett will need to sign off on a demotion will not stop the Yankees front office from asking him and then bitching and moaning about how awful Burnett is as a player and clubhouse cancer if he refused that assignment.

      Again, you’re missing the point. If the Yankees are unhappy with Burnett, the best way to get rid of him isn’t to send him to the minors but to send him to another team via trade. It’s hard to get anything of value for a veteran pitcher making a hefty salary when the team that controls him is so overt with their displeasure that they have to ask him to go to the minors. In other words, the Yanks won’t be asking Burnett to go to the minors unless he’s hurt or unless he approaches the team and suggests the move himself (which is unlikely to happen).

      Ryan81 wrote:

      And if there is one thing the offseason has taught you, the Yankees will spare no punches when going after a player’s public image.

      The Yankees are not alone in this regard. Every team will use any and all means at their disposal to achieve their goals. Why wouldn’t they?

    16. Raf
      December 21st, 2010 | 3:44 pm

      @ Rich M:
      At one time, the Yanks asked Pavano to go to the minors, to clear a roster spot. I don’t remember if it was 2007 or 2008, but I remember that there was an issue relating to his service time.

    17. Rich M
      December 21st, 2010 | 3:54 pm

      @ Raf:
      I believe he was asked if he would sign a minor league deal if they released him and ate the last year + buyout on his contract (13 mil). His agent refused in the best interest of his client in that he would lose service time that would effect his pension down the road.

    18. Corey Italiano
      December 21st, 2010 | 4:23 pm

      @ Raf:
      It was the end of the 2008 season, when he was making his rehab starts.

    19. MJ Recanati
      December 21st, 2010 | 4:24 pm

      Corey Italiano wrote:

      @ Raf:
      It was the end of the 2008 season, when he was making his rehab starts.

      I believe Corey is right. I seem to remember that as well.

    20. #15
      December 21st, 2010 | 4:48 pm

      @ EHawk:
      I’ve been running the same thing in my head for a couple of weeks now. If the Yankees had gotten Lee and Andy came back, I saw it as a real dog fight. Without those two, I’ll certainly give the edge to Boston as it stands.

      A few thoughts about 2011… Tex, hit the cages early and often. We really can’t afford first half struggles like last year. We need a more productive offense across the entire season. DJ, show ‘em how much you have in the tank, get after the fitness program from a couple of years ago and get back to 200 hits and ~ 380+ OBP. Gardy, you should be laying down 200 bunts a day, every day, this winter. Also, ratchet up the pressure and steal earlier in the count more often as it will mean more fastballs for the guys hitting behind you. Your goal should be 50+ SB. Jorge? You are playing for your baseball life. I have a lot of confidence in your stick, and think that without the grind of catching on a regular basis, you can be an effective DH if you have your mind right. The catching phase of your career is over. You make your living with a piece of wood in your hand now. If you want to play another year and pad your HOF credentials, put the mask in a nice glass trophy case and be a hitter. Robbie? Just give us what you gave us last year. That’s plenty. Same for Swish. Same for CC. Same for Mo. Grandy, we need two halves like the second half of 2010. Steal a few more bases. That would be plenty. A-Rod? 35 and 120+ are your marching order. Play like a $25 million dollar man. AJ? Remember to keep your guard up, lead with your left and slip a punch now and then. Get your head in the game and bear down in tough situations. Phil, work the batters a bit more aggressively and work on putting batters away with fewer pitches. Especially the 7, 8 & 9 hitters. This is your year to take the next step and show you are really a solid # 3 pitcher with a chance at being a #2. Joba… push away from the buffet and pick up a P90 video before you earn the nickname “Tank”. As I’ve said before, hard throwing right handers with an ERA heading toward 5.0 end up parking cars in Vegas rather than rolling with Giambi. You may not have what it takes to make it, but don’t blow it because you lack work ethic.

    21. Scout
      December 21st, 2010 | 4:58 pm

      @ #15:
      So, just to be sure I understand this, you seem to be saying that if every Yankee regular and key pitcher has a career year, the Yankees will be fine. OK, but when does that ever happen? To say that the odds are against it is an understatement.

      This team will need personnel changes to compete well enough to make the play-offs, much less succeed in October. Cashman knows it, too. He will make moves, when the price is a bit more reasonable.

    22. Evan3457
      December 21st, 2010 | 5:24 pm

      Scout wrote:

      @ #15:
      So, just to be sure I understand this, you seem to be saying that if every Yankee regular and key pitcher has a career year, the Yankees will be fine. OK, but when does that ever happen? To say that the odds are against it is an understatement.
      This team will need personnel changes to compete well enough to make the play-offs, much less succeed in October. Cashman knows it, too. He will make moves, when the price is a bit more reasonable.

      This.
      Of course, it will help if they don’t get off to a horrible start.

    23. #15
      December 21st, 2010 | 6:10 pm

      @ Scout:

      “So, just to be sure I understand this, you seem to be saying that if every Yankee regular and key pitcher has a career year, the Yankees will be fine. OK, but when does that ever happen?”

      Not really saying that at all. What that I laid out would constitute a career year out of any of the guys I listed? Just about everything I laid out is within the envelope of proven abilities for all the players. Maybe Tex having a decent, but not great, April and May? That said, there are some adjustments that can be made to make people more effective (like Gardner, for example).

      Admittedly, we’ll have to see where Jeter and Jorge are at this point in their respective careers. If DJ’s a .250 hitter from this point there is a hole there. If Jorge hits .250 and 65 RBI, that’s a whole. I’m not looking for 20 wins and a 3.25 ERA out of Hughes. Just make some adjustments and try to work effectively through 7 innings more often.

      Now, I would agree we’ll need to get better to be a real contender, and certainly if we are going make any noise in the post season. A healthy Andy would go a long way in the right direction.

      Let’s also not forget, while we didn’t get Lee, the Rays are not nearly as good as they were last year. They lost speed, power and pitching. They are still good enough to win the NL Central, but they are a notch or two down from what they were the past 2 years.

    24. agsf
      December 22nd, 2010 | 1:22 am

      @ EHawk:”Ok lets look at the Yanks and Red Sox current lineups and see who is better”

      You’ll have to forgive me for thinking you have on yankee colored glasses. Wherever it’s close, you give the edge to the yankees. I could easily see these changes:

      1B: Tex vs. AGon I’d say slight edge to Tex cause he has been in AL most his career and familiar with AL East.
      – After Tex’s season last year, which was still pretty good, I’d give it to Agon. His swing is perfect for fenway,

      2B: Cano vs. Pedoria Edge to Cano
      – I agree, but pedroia is no slouch, and if they have him a full year that will be an automatic improvement over last years team.

      SS: Jeter vs. Scutaro Edge to Jeter
      – all according to if jeter continues his fall or if it was a blip. If he’s on the way down there’s no edge over scutaro, and if the sox can keep lowrie at shore he’ll almost certainly be an improvement over jeter

      3B: Arod vs. Youk Edge to Arod but its pretty close at this point’
      – I’d rather have youk. Younger, healthier.

      LF: Crawford vs. Gardner Edge to Crawford but its not that far apart
      – we’ll see

      CF: Granderson vs. Elsbury/Cameron Edge to Granderson by a bit
      – again, not sure if this is even possible to predict. Granderson came on strong, red sox cfs barely played last year.

      RF: Swisher vs. Drew Edge to Swisher…Drew is declined last year

      C: Martin vs. whoever Edge to Yanks they have depth if Martin fails
      – again, this is a wash, no way of telling until season unfolds. martin? not sure what you’re basing that off of. Questions on both teams about catchers.

      DH: Posada vs. Ortiz Very slight edge to Ortiz because he has been doing it a lot longer.
      – slight? Ortiz is a bigger threat. if he manages to get off to a better start this one isn’t even close.

      SPs: Edge to Sox if Andy comes back then its not a huge edge…Sox have questions too with Beckett, Lackey and DiceK and if Yanks make a deal for an ace then its even.
      – who the hell knows at this point

      RP: Edge to Yanks We have Mo and they don’t.
      – mo is awesome, but the yankees bullpen has a lot of questions. at this point, i’d take the sox bullpen.

      that was fun :)

    25. Evan3457
      December 22nd, 2010 | 8:04 am

      I should point out that the Sox trade for Saltalamacchia is virtually a replay of their trade for Varitek.

      Both players were top, top prospects. Both appeared to underachieve greatly on their way to the majors, and even in their first couple of big league seasons.

      The Sox are obviously hoping that Saltalamacchia breaks through the way Varitek did, and their even letting Varitek play Dickey to Salty’s Yogi.

      A nice gamble for the Sox that could pay off big-time at some point down the road. Or not.

    26. MJ Recanati
      December 22nd, 2010 | 8:58 am

      Evan3457 wrote:

      I should point out that the Sox trade for Saltalamacchia is virtually a replay of their trade for Varitek.Both players were top, top prospects. Both appeared to underachieve greatly on their way to the majors, and even in their first couple of big league seasons.

      Not a bad comparison, actually. I’d agree with that.

      Evan3457 wrote:

      their even letting Varitek play Dickey

      Drop the “-ey” off that and I’d agree completely. Varitek is a total dick.

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