• A Hole In The Yankees…

    Posted by on February 25th, 2013 · Comments (5)

    It’s an A-Hole, for Cash-Man!

    Via Jonah Keri today –

    The New York Yankees have carried some truly miserable benches over the years. Which makes sense, if you think about it. When you trot out rosters stuffed with superstars, no self-respecting part-time player is going to sign with you, given how little playing time he’s likely to get. Every time Clay Bellinger pulls out his two World Series rings, he should thank George Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman for building teams that were so loaded, the Yankees couldn’t do any better for a backup.

    This year’s Yankees team isn’t stuffed with superstars. At this point, they have two: Robinson Cano (who’s eligible for free agency at year’s end unless the Yankees can convince him to re-sign by offering the GDP of São Tomé and Principe) and CC Sabathia. But now, instead of playing time being the problem, it’s money. The 2013 Yanks are so committed to holding the line on salaries, and have so much tied up in thirtysomething former stars like A-Rod, Jeter, hell, even A.J. F’ing Burnett, that they can’t, or at least won’t, outbid other teams for quality part-time players. Which is why, after Curtis Granderson suffered a broken forearm that will keep him out 10 weeks, the projected Opening Day left fielder for the Yankees — the mighty New York Yankees — is Juan Rivera.

    Granderson’s injury is just the latest setback for a Yankees team that has major collapse potential. Nick Swisher bolted for the Indians, while the Pirates (the Pirates!) outbid New York for Russell Martin. In Swisher’s stead, the Yankees signed Travis Hafner, a once-devastating hitter who’s still a plus bat when healthy, which is a bit like saying Rick Ankiel was a plus pitcher when his fastball wasn’t drilling people in the 14th row. Swisher’s actual vacated right-field job falls to Ichiro, who we’re supposed to believe is now reborn at age 39, because he found a few holes in the defense in 67 games for New York. A full year of Brett Gardner could be a big upgrade … but Jeter’s a gigantic regression risk coming off ankle surgery and following an out-of-the-blue 216-hit season. Mr. Glass Alex Rodriguez has been replaced by the nearly-as-gimpy Kevin Youkilis. Replacing Martin at catcher are Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli, whose collective offensive impact projects to be dead ball–ian. As good as the starting rotation might be with everyone back, the starting nine could make this the worst Yankees season in more than two decades.

    Given all those holes and potential holes, Rivera’s presence in the lineup bodes ill for the Yankees’ chances of repeating as AL East champions, even if he doesn’t play more than the five weeks or so that Granderson would be projected to miss after Opening Day. Rivera’s essentially been a replacement-level player in five of the past six seasons, with no significant contributions since 2009.

    I’ll just hang up now and listen to your reaction.

    Comments on A Hole In The Yankees…

    1. KPOcala
      February 25th, 2013 | 6:28 pm

      All those fans who let the media make them somehow feel that the Yanks had “bought” their championships over the years should be feeling pretty foolish right about now. For the most part, building the farm system is like building your IRA through the “Roulette System”. I notice that all those Boston “Future-All Stars” either fizzled or were traded. Sound familiar? People forget that it’s rare for teams to have sustained success without picking up the right free agent, or even better, trading thir “can’t miss” MILers for younger talent. I was purged of the “guilty feelings” back, in the eighties. Hal was foolish, did he really think that two decades of fielding top quality teams would allow for any “real patience” for a “true rebuild”? The Old Man knew the game was about showbiz, people wanting to be entertained. Hal, must have thought it meant downloading (for a fee) a watered down Excel spreadsheet, showing how much money the team “saved” every year………

    2. Raf
      February 25th, 2013 | 7:30 pm

      KPOcala wrote:

      All those fans who let the media make them somehow feel that the Yanks had “bought” their championships over the years should be feeling pretty foolish right about now.

      As well they should. Self hatred, self loathing has no place in fandom. Every team buys players. Has been that way for a very long time.

    3. Evan3457
      February 25th, 2013 | 7:44 pm

      OK, let’s have a reality check.

      Let’s assume, just for the sake of argument, that Rivera (or Diaz or Mustelier or whoever) is an exactly replacement level flank outfielder.

      If Curtis Granderson plays at the level he did when he finished 4th in the MVP voting He’s worth 5.3 to 7.0 WAR for the season, or 1.3 to 1.8 WAR for the 40 games or so he might miss. At the low end, playing as he did last year, he’s worth 2.6-2.7 WAR for the season, or 0.7 WAR for the 40 games he’s about to miss.

      Theoretical cost to the Yankees: About 1 to 1.2 WAR. So if they would’ve gone 22-18 with him (a 90 win pace), they should go 21-19 without him.

      “The straw that broke the camel’s back”? Yeah, OK, that’s possible. But not likely.

    4. 77yankees
      February 25th, 2013 | 9:45 pm

      The 1998 bench had a future Hall of Famer (Raines), a utility infielder who had a World Series winning hit two years later (Sojo), a pinch runner who hit .380 (Homer Bush), someone who had 10 HR in 73 AB in Spencer, and before the colon cancer, one of the most feared power bats in Straw.

      Only since the additional expansion has the Yankee bench declined due to there being more jobs available. Throw in the additional wildcards, which would keep more teams from dealing their spare parts at the deadline as long as they’re still in contention.

      And yes, I do understand the thesis of why would someone want to sign to sit on the Yankee bench when they can get more playing time elsewhere. But really, with the daily lineup the Yanks have had the last 10 years, I’d be sure the Yanks are at the bottom of pinch hitting numbers during that time. So this is not really news to anyone.

    5. MJ Recanati
      February 26th, 2013 | 12:59 pm

      KPOcala wrote:

      Hal was foolish, did he really think that two decades of fielding top quality teams would allow for any “real patience” for a “true rebuild”?

      I don’t think Hal is suggesting that the Yankees rebuild or that they’re engaged in anything of the sort.

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