• Yankees Exposed?

    Posted by on February 25th, 2013 · Comments (10)

    Via Jon Paul Morosi today -

    The New York Yankees haven’t looked this vulnerable during spring training in a very long time. Having lost Nick Swisher and Russell Martin to free agency, planning around a rehabilitating Alex Rodriguez, the 2013 Yankees needed a healthy camp while hoping legends Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera make full recoveries from major surgeries.

    Season-ruining? No. Devastating? Absolutely.

    Given the Yankees’ current structure, Granderson was one of their most indispensable players. He led the Yankees with 43 home runs last season, a career high. The other projected outfielders — Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki — supplied a grand total of nine in 2012.

    In fact, with Granderson out until sometime in May, the Yankees are expected to begin the season with only two of their top eight home-run hitters from last season: Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira. Granderson and Rodriguez are injured; Swisher, Russell Martin, Raul Ibañez and Eric Chavez signed elsewhere as free agents.

    The Yankees have one of baseball’s oldest rosters, so wear-and-tear on their eldest position players was expected during the year. But not Granderson — and certainly not now. Granderson, 31, projected to be the third- or fourth-youngest member of the Opening Day lineup.

    The timing of Granderson’s absence was particularly damaging on a number of levels: Granderson surely hoped to get off to a strong start entering his final season before free agency, and the Yankees planned for him to work on playing left field this spring, with Gardner shifting to center.

    Toronto Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ hit Granderson with a pitch during the first inning of the Yankees’ Grapefruit League home opener Sunday afternoon. However unlucky it was, the incident has exposed the Yankees’ flawed roster construction.

    The Yankees didn’t sign Swisher — or Josh Hamilton, or Michael Bourn — at least in part because of a desire to keep their payroll beneath $189 million beginning next year. They didn’t trade for Justin Upton — an ideal acquisition, due to his reasonable contract — because they lacked the high-ceiling, close-to-the-majors prospects Arizona wanted.

    Now, only two days into spring training, the Yankees have discovered what happens to organizations that decline to spend on free agents and fail to successfully develop their best prospects: They are forced to hope their top players stay healthy because they lack the depth to withstand significant injuries. With Granderson out, the mighty Yankees could be forced to open the season with Matt Diaz or Juan Rivera — each a non-roster invitee — as the everyday left fielder.

    While I don’t necessarily agree that losing Curtis Granderson for the start of the season is going to make or break the Yankees, I do agree with this statement:

    …the Yankees have discovered what happens to organizations that decline to spend on free agents and fail to successfully develop their best prospects: They are forced to hope their top players stay healthy because they lack the depth to withstand significant injuries…

    Cano, Teixeira, Jeter, Kuroda, Sabathia, Pettitte, Rivera…those are the guys that the Yankees really need to come through this season. And, then comes Granderson, Gardner, Ichiro, Youkilis and Hughes. Granderson is close to that first group; but, I think the Yankees can live without a guy like him for a month and survive.

    Comments on Yankees Exposed?

    1. MJ Recanati
      February 25th, 2013 | 1:07 pm

      Steve L. wrote:

      Cano, Teixeira, Jeter, Kuroda, Sabathia, Pettitte, Rivera…those are the guys that the Yankees really need to come through this season.

      If the argument is that the Yankees can’t afford to lose their best players because the replacements won’t be as good then, yes, you’ve unlocked the Rosetta Stone.

      In other news, if the other 29 teams in baseball similarly rely on their best players because bench players aren’t as good as starters, chances are those other teams will struggle too.

    2. February 25th, 2013 | 1:20 pm

      @ MJ Recanati:
      Yes, but, part of the problem with the Yankees is that, of the seven I mentioned as being key, four are very, very, very old for baseball players, another has been on a downward trend for a while, and another is coming off surgery.

      The other 29 teams in baseball probably don’t have the same issues with “their best players.”

    3. 77yankees
      February 25th, 2013 | 2:21 pm

      Justin Upton…..an ideal acquisition?? Really?

      If he couldn’t thrive in a smaller market albeit with a hard ass manager in Kirk Gibson, what makes him think a move to the scrutinized media capital of the world is going to make it easier on him?

    4. February 25th, 2013 | 2:38 pm

      77yankees wrote:

      Justin Upton…..an ideal acquisition?? Really?

      Maybe not in terms of attitude.
      But, it terms of being a young, productive, and not overly expensive RH-hitting power corner OF under control for a while, then, yes, it sure does fit the Yankees needs.

    5. MJ Recanati
      February 25th, 2013 | 4:09 pm

      Steve L. wrote:

      Yes, but, part of the problem with the Yankees is that, of the seven I mentioned as being key, four are very, very, very old for baseball players, another has been on a downward trend for a while, and another is coming off surgery.The other 29 teams in baseball probably don’t have the same issues with “their best players.”

      You can come up with reasons for why every team has question marks. The Yankees’ question marks happen to be related to age.

      The point still stands: it’s inane to posit that the Yankees lack talented replacements for their best players as if that’s a situation unique to the Yankees.

    6. February 25th, 2013 | 4:46 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      The Yankees’ question marks happen to be related to age.

      Those are bad question marks to have since age usually equates with injury and/or decline in skills.

      It’s a young man’s game.

    7. MJ Recanati
      February 25th, 2013 | 5:03 pm

      Steve L. wrote:

      Those are bad question marks to have since age usually equates with injury and/or decline in skills.It’s a young man’s game.

      Doesn’t change the fact that it’s silly to make the argument that the Yankees will be in trouble without their best players.

      Unless I’m missing something, the Dodgers don’t have all-stars to plug in if Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw both miss time in 2013, etc.

    8. February 25th, 2013 | 5:36 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      Unless I’m missing something

      Yes, the point being that Kemp and Kershaw are peaking while the Yankees stars are declining.

    9. Raf
      February 25th, 2013 | 6:21 pm

      Steve L. wrote:

      Yes, the point being that Kemp and Kershaw are peaking while the Yankees stars are declining.

      And it’s still possible that they miss time or get hurt; Mattingly was 26-27 when he hurt his back.

    10. MJ Recanati
      February 26th, 2013 | 12:54 pm

      Steve L. wrote:

      Yes, the point being that Kemp and Kershaw are peaking while the Yankees stars are declining.

      Irrelevant. Once again you’re moving goalposts.

      As Raf said, injuries occur to all players irrespective of age.

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