• Where Do The Yanks Rank?

    Posted by on March 16th, 2011 · Comments (29)

    This got me wondering.  If you made a list, who would be your 2011 “Top 15″ teams in baseball.  And, where would the Yankees fall on that list?

    I would have the Yankees – even with their starting pitcher questions – in the “Top Ten,” for sure.  But, I would not put them in the “Top Five.”  It would be more around #7 or #8 in my book…how about you?

    Comments on Where Do The Yanks Rank?

    1. Raf
      March 16th, 2011 | 12:03 pm

      They’d be in the top 5, as it stands the Phils, Red Sox and Rays look to be better, at least on paper.

      People are sleeping on the Rays, for reasons I cannot quite understand. So their bullpen took a hit, BFD; relievers are a dime a dozen.

    2. MJ Recanati
      March 16th, 2011 | 12:08 pm

      For me, it’s Boston, Philly, Yankees. I can’t think of another team besides Boston or Philly that has more talent at more positions than the Yankees.

      I’d love to know who your teams 4-6 (or 4-7) are, Steve.

    3. YankCrank
      March 16th, 2011 | 12:13 pm

      I don’t think there’s six or seven better teams than the Yankees…I don’t think there’s three teams better.

      1. Red Sox
      2. Phillies
      3. Yankees

    4. March 16th, 2011 | 12:48 pm

      I think the Red Sox, Phillies, Rays, Giants, Rockies, Rangers, and A’s all have better OVERALL teams than the Yankees do, right now. Don’t forget that pitching is very important – esp SP. And, the Yankees SP is suspect. Note Hughes’ ERA following his hot start last year. And, note the inconsistency of Burnett. And, please, don’t tell me about the spring numbers of Colon and Garcia. That bubble will burst in April, for sure.

      I also like the Twins, Brewers, White Sox and Braves this year. But, I don’t think they’re in the Yankees class at this moment. That said, if things break right for one of them and/or if some things break bad for the Yankees, I would not be shocked to see one of these do better than New York in 2011.

      There’s also some teams “coming on” – like the Orioles, thanks to Showalter. But, something really off the charts would have to happen to have one of them pass the Yankees in 2011.

    5. MJ Recanati
      March 16th, 2011 | 12:50 pm

      @ Raf:
      Curious why you see the Rays as better. While their rotation may be stronger 2-5 (and even that is imminently debatable), their lineup pales in comparison and their bullpen has been completely overhauled.

      Honestly, I don’t think the Rays are a very good team. I know they’re everyone’s darlings but I just don’t see it.

    6. MJ Recanati
      March 16th, 2011 | 12:54 pm

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      SP is important but so is hitting. The question wasn’t which teams have better starting pitching (or pitching, in general) than the Yankees. The question was which teams are better from top to bottom than the Yankees.

      The Yankees obviously can’t match up with Philly and SF on the pitching front. Probably can’t match up with Boston either (although it’s closer than you think, pedigree/marquee names aside). But lineups/bullpens? It’s not even close. Tampa, San Francisco, Colorado, Oakland better than the Yankees? No chance. Absolutely no chance.

      Now, playing unbalanced schedules, and playing in the NL vs. the AL, that creates a different sub-question. Which teams will have better W/L records than the Yankees. That’s harder to answer. But in terms of talent from 1-25, Steve, you’re selling the Yankees WAY short.

    7. Evan3457
      March 16th, 2011 | 4:17 pm

      The A’s are better than the Yankees?
      That’ll be news to the A’s, who went 1-9 against the Yanks last year.

      The one win? Dallas Braden, of course. Over CC, no less.

      I don’t see the Rockies as better, either. Jimenez is very good. Better than CC? Meh. De la Rosa’s pretty good, nothing special, though. Chacin could be a very good #3. League hasn’t formed a book on him yet. Beyond that, what great starting pitching do the Rockies have? And lineups, yes, the Rockies have Tulowitzki and Gonzalez, and they’re terrific. But Ianetta’s the starting catcher, and they’re still waiting for him to make it. Same for Fowler in center. Right field is Seth Smith and Ty Wigginton. 3rd base is Ian Stewart. 2nd? Wigginton. Or Jose Lopez. Or Eric Young, Jr. 1st base? The dessicated remains of Todd Helton. Where do the Rockies have the advantage at any of those positions? The Yanks have an old, creaky closer. The Rockies have a young, brittle closer. Their setup? Lindstrom and Betancourt and Belisle and Beimel. Better than Soriano and Joba and Robertson and Feliciano? I don’t see it.

      The Giants can make a case, but it’s just as likely they’re one-year wonders. They took advantage of a flawed, weak division, and barely made the playoffs ahead of the pitiful Padres. Then, their strong starting pitching unit got hot in the post-season. That doesn’t happen every year. Posey is a terrific young players. Name another in the Giants everyday lineup. I dare you. They’re starting Tejada at short this year, for Pete’s sake.

      The Rangers can make a case, but they’re down a Cliff Lee from last year. If they compensate with Feliz, then they need a closer. They also have to hope all the young guys who stepped forward for them last year don’t take a consolidating step back. They added Beltre, but that may not work out as well as they figure, and they lost Guerrero, and possibly Young as well, to add him.

      The Rays case is based on both Damon and Manny hitting about as well as they can at their age. If not, the pitching is fine, but the offense won’t be enough in this division. I still don’t still how you can play up Manny and Damon, and discount Jeter and A-Rod. Same thing-same thing as far as I can see.

    8. Evan3457
      March 16th, 2011 | 4:23 pm

      Oh, almost forgot. At this point, I rate the Yanks 3rd to 5th, behind the Red Sox and A’s, and depending on how real you think they are, the Giants and Rangers. I think they’re a couple of games better than the Rays, unless Zobrist and Upton and Manny come back big time.

      Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projections currently say:

      Red Sox 93-69
      Yanks 92-70
      Giants 91-71
      Phils 90-72
      Braves 87-75
      Dodgers 87-75

      and nobody else in MLB with more than 85 wins.

      PECOTA says the Rockies will go 84-78, the Rays 85-77, the A’s 83-79.

      I think it’s underrating the Rays by a game or 3, and maybe the Rockies as well.

    9. Evan3457
      March 16th, 2011 | 4:24 pm

      Ack.

      I meant 3rd behind the Red Sox and PHILLIES, not the A’s.

      consarnfrangdagnabit lack of an edit button!

      PFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFBBBBBBBBBBBBTTTTTTTTTTT!

    10. March 16th, 2011 | 4:25 pm

      I have only some reservations about the Yankees offense – Jeter’s decline, Posada being able to DH, A-Rod’s ability to bounce back from 2010, Martin’s bat, Granderson proving that the end of last year was not a fluke, Tex’s ability to get out of the gate, Gardner’s wrist.

      The bullpen should be OK this season. Not many fears about that.

      The rotation, as I said before, scares me.

      What also concerns me is the AL East. 18-19 games against Boston – at best the Yankees split those, again, at best. 18-19 games against the Rays. Tampa plays the Yankees tough. How many of those are the Yankees going to win, maybe 12, at best – probably closer to ten. The O’s, with Showalter are going to be tougher – it’s not a gimmie 13 wins against Baltimore anymore. Toronto, at times, gives the Yankees fits. The whole division is going to be really hard – and that’s half the Yankees schedule.

      The Yankees, if they’re going to contend, are going to have to shoot for .500 against the AL East, overall, and beat the crap out of the West and the Central. But, the A’s are better. The Rangers are good. The Angels are always tough. The Twins are a good team. The Tigers and White Sox have some talent.

      The M’s, Indians and Royals are the only pushovers in the AL this year – and the Yankees don’t have many games against them.

      Yes, the Yankees are good – one of the ten best teams in baseball – but a lot of other teams have improved this year. And, if the Yankees think they’re going to be able to get fat on the weak teams this year, and that will make up for their age and pitching, etc., they’re going to be surprised – - in a bad way.

    11. Corey Italiano
      March 16th, 2011 | 4:29 pm

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      Oakland? Really?

      Who’s going to hit for them?

    12. Corey Italiano
      March 16th, 2011 | 4:30 pm

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      AND the closer, Bailey, has what sounds like a need for TJ surgery.

    13. Jim TreshFan
      March 16th, 2011 | 4:41 pm

      I wonder where the Giants ranked in mid March of ’10? I guess there’s a reason why they hold off the World Series until after the regular season.

    14. YankCrank
      March 16th, 2011 | 7:02 pm

      @ Steve Lombardi:

      There isn’t a team out there that doesn’t have as many question marks as the Yankees. Where you’re concerned about the age of a couple Yankees, the Sox are worried about bounce-back years from Beckett and Lackey and getting anything out of Dice-K. They’re also hoping Papelbon and Jenks can have big years, if not all they have is Bard in the pen. The Phillies have to worry about their aging team with no bullpen and a hurt Utley. The Rays, where do we start?

      I know you tend to shit on the Yanks, it’s who you are, but even the best teams have their question marks.

    15. 77yankees
      March 16th, 2011 | 7:21 pm

      Jim TreshFan wrote:

      I wonder where the Giants ranked in mid March of ’10? I guess there’s a reason why they hold off the World Series until after the regular season.

      Bingo! Lots can happen between now and the last week of September.

      Btw, how many people picked Boston to win the AL East and go to the World Series last year??

    16. MJ Recanati
      March 16th, 2011 | 8:18 pm

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      Starting with the third paragraph of your last comment, I more or less fairly well predicted your moving target.

      The original question you posed was to solicit opinions on the top 15 teams in baseball, not to predict teams’ records or if they’ll be contenders.

      Now you’re using the Yankees questions marks — ones which you fairly point out for the Yankees but completely gloss over for everyone else — to assume that the Yankees can’t contend in their own league.

      Did some other teams improve? Sure. But some teams got worse too. I hardly see how Tampa could lose their entire bullpen, their second-best hitter and their starting first baseman with 30-homer power and add two guys on born before me (1975) and yet somehow still be considered a team better than the Yankees. And that doesn’t even include the potential downgrade from Garza to Hellickson, assuming the normal level of rookie learning curve.

      The Orioles are better because of Buck Showalter? Please. Managers don’t win games, players do. The Orioles added Vladimir Guerrero, Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds and JJ Hardy. That improves one of the sorriest lineups in baseball to one that is perhaps average, if everything breaks right for them.

      Toronto got a career year out of Jose Bautista and a monster bounce-back from Vernon Wells. Now Wells is in Anaheim, Bautista isn’t going to see a fastball for at least the first month of the season and features all sorts of below-average talent in the lineup.

      I understand your concerns about the 2011 Yankees. I share some of those concerns. But then you look around the division and see that the competition isn’t as good as you think it is.

    17. MJ Recanati
      March 16th, 2011 | 8:22 pm

      Corey Italiano wrote:

      Oakland? Really?
      Who’s going to hit for them?

      Agreed. I don’t see why everyone’s so bullish on them. Matsui is potentially their cleanup hitter and, much as I love him, he’s not a guy that can carry a team offensively.

      Not only that but their rotation pitches to contact. That’s lovely but for the fact that not even the best defense can always guarantee you a lot of clean innings when you’re giving them so many chances. Brett Anderson is a stud. The rest — Cahill, Gonzalez and Braden — are OK but not necessarily better than Burnett, Hughes and Nova. Slightly better, perhaps. Not a lot better.

    18. Raf
      March 16th, 2011 | 8:37 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      Curious why you see the Rays as better. While their rotation may be stronger 2-5 (and even that is imminently debatable), their lineup pales in comparison and their bullpen has been completely overhauled.

      While I agree that their lineup pales in comparison to the Yanks, I think it will be a lot closer than people give credit. They were 3rd in the AL in runs behind NY and Boston, and they added Manny who I think will to bounce back. And even if he doesn’t, I doubt that he’ll do worse than what the Rays were getting from the DH spot last year. Damon and Jennings should be able to approach what Crawford did last year.

      Bullpens can be built on the fly, I’m not particularly worried about it being overhauled.

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      And, please, don’t tell me about the spring numbers of Colon and Garcia. That bubble will burst in April, for sure.

      Colon, maybe, but Garcia served as an average starter with the White Sox last year. I do agree with the general sentiment that I would be surprised if either makes the entire 2011 season with the Yankees, though stranger things have happened.

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      I think the rumors of Jeter’s decline are greatly exaggerated. While his best days may be behind him, I think he has another good year in him.

    19. MJ Recanati
      March 17th, 2011 | 8:11 am

      Raf wrote:

      They were 3rd in the AL in runs behind NY and Boston

      Based on an absurd amount of luck with RISP. Regression in that category would kill their RS number.

      Raf wrote:

      they added Manny who I think will to bounce back.

      Bounce back to what? He’s not a power hitter anymore. He’s still got elite OBP skill but he’s a part-time player now.

      Raf wrote:

      Damon and Jennings should be able to approach what Crawford did last year.

      I’ll gladly take that bet.

      Raf wrote:

      I think the rumors of Jeter’s decline are greatly exaggerated. While his best days may be behind him, I think he has another good year in him.

      I’ll take that bet too. Two of the past three seasons have shown an unmistakable decline and have resulted in the lowest BB% and OBP of his career. 2009 was Jeter’s last great act of a heroic and memorable career but I think we better get used to the 2008/2010 verison of him now. He’s a .330-.340 wOBA guy now, not the .370+ he used to be. You can still win with Jeter but he’s a #7 hitter now.

    20. Raf
      March 17th, 2011 | 11:02 am

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      Based on an absurd amount of luck with RISP. Regression in that category would kill their RS number.

      I dunno about that, R/G;
      10: 4.95
      09: 4.96
      08: 4.78
      07: 4.83

      It isn’t outside the realm of possibility that they average near 5 runs a game in 2011.

      He’s not a power hitter anymore. He’s still got elite OBP skill but he’s a part-time player now.

      I think he’ll be a little more than a singles hitter. He won’t be the terror he was in Boston, but he’ll still be productive. The hernia that he had was probably the reason behind his power loss. He’s the full time DH, that should save some wear and tear on him. Also, even if he replicates his line from last year, it will be an improvement from what the Rays DH’s hit last year.

      Two of the past three seasons have shown an unmistakable decline and have resulted in the lowest BB% and OBP of his career. 2009 was Jeter’s last great act of a heroic and memorable career but I think we better get used to the 2008/2010 verison of him now. He’s a .330-.340 wOBA guy now, not the .370+ he used to be. You can still win with Jeter but he’s a #7 hitter now.

      The OBP was his lowest, but he has posted a lower BB% 7 times. Agreed that he probably won’t see .370+ again, but I think he’ll be better than the .320 he posted last season.

    21. MJ Recanati
      March 17th, 2011 | 1:10 pm

      Raf wrote:

      I dunno about that, R/G;
      10: 4.95
      09: 4.96
      08: 4.78
      07: 4.83

      That doesn’t prove that the Rays didn’t get lucky last year in scoring runs.

      Raf wrote:

      He’s the full time DH, that should save some wear and tear on him.

      I find this to be an oft-repeated claim that just doesn’t hold water. Nick Johnson was supposed to be spared the wear and tear last year but missed the entire season after just a handful of games. Matsui was a DH for most of his games in 2008 and he still got hurt. When you’re old and your body starts betraying you, that’s it. Not playing the field won’t change that.

      Raf wrote:

      Also, even if he replicates his line from last year, it will be an improvement from what the Rays DH’s hit last year.

      Certainly, but even with the horrid season Carlos Pena had last year, Dan Johnson has a long way to go to get there. And, again, I’m not buying that Damon and Jennings can combine to replace Crawford.

    22. MJ Recanati
      March 17th, 2011 | 1:14 pm

      Raf wrote:

      The OBP was his lowest, but he has posted a lower BB% 7 times. Agreed that he probably won’t see .370+ again, but I think he’ll be better than the .320 he posted last season.

      Sure, but the hit tool was much better then. With a slower bat and declining OBP skills, Jeter can’t only walk 8% of the time and still hit over .300 with an OBP over .360.

    23. Raf
      March 17th, 2011 | 6:18 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      That doesn’t prove that the Rays didn’t get lucky last year in scoring runs.

      Yeah, but as lucky as they were last year, they still scored runs at the same clip as they did the year prior. Maybe they were lucky two years in a row, I don’t know, but it would not surprise me if they score runs at the same clip in 2011 that they did in 09 & 10.

      Nick Johnson was supposed to be spared the wear and tear last year but missed the entire season after just a handful of games. Matsui was a DH for most of his games in 2008 and he still got hurt. When you’re old and your body starts betraying you, that’s it. Not playing the field won’t change that.

      Johnson is a rare case, he had been injury prone hs entire career. Matsui may be an apt comp, but even he managed to play in 140+ games in 2009 & 10 as a full time DH.

    24. agsf
      March 17th, 2011 | 6:45 pm

      77yankees wrote:

      Btw, how many people picked Boston to win the AL East and go to the World Series last year??

      Whats your point? That preseason picks are unreliable? No shit.

      By the way, looking at last years espn preseason picks (you can find it by googling it) 22 columnists picked the Yankees, 11 picked the Red Sox. So if you’re trying to spin it as the Red Sox being favorites, you’re wrong. They weren’t.

    25. 77yankees
      March 18th, 2011 | 10:08 pm

      @ agsf:

      Where did I write that Boston was the favorites? That’s just the way you perceived and chose to twist it for your profane reply.

      Thanks for your enthusiasm anyway.

    26. Raf
      January 29th, 2012 | 10:24 am

      Opened a profile that had been dormant since March. This page came up.

      Funny how things turn out, isn’t it? Yanks had the best record in the AL, the Rays won the wild card, the Red Sox missed the playoffs.

      Yanks 6-12 against the Red Sox, 9-9 against the Rays, which included the loss that got the Rays in the playoffs,

      Seems we slept on the Rangers. FWIW, Yanks went 7-2 against them.

      Pitching exceeded our expectations, quite the understatement.

      So, 2010 saw Girardi punt games to rest guys down the stretch. 2011 saw Girardi go with a 6 man rotation, juggling CC, AJ, Hughes, Garcia, Colon & Nova, I wonder what 2012 will bring?

    27. Evan3457
      January 29th, 2012 | 11:21 am

      The Yanks turned out to be the 2nd best team during the regular season, and the “8th best” team in the playoffs (they lost to the team that lost to the team that lost the World Series).

      The pitching was much better than anyone expected, and the outfield defense and Martin’s pitch calling and receiving played a big role in that, which is one reason why the Yanks re-signed Martin and traded Montero .

    28. Raf
      January 29th, 2012 | 6:21 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      The pitching was much better than anyone expected, and the outfield defense and Martin’s pitch calling and receiving played a big role in that, which is one reason why the Yanks re-signed Martin and traded Montero .

      I go back and forth on that Montero trade… I understand why it was done, it was a reasonable deal, I still feel a bit uncomfortable with it.

    29. MJ Recanati
      January 30th, 2012 | 8:42 am

      Raf wrote:

      I go back and forth on that Montero trade… I understand why it was done, it was a reasonable deal, I still feel a bit uncomfortable with it.

      You and me both.

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