FanPost

Better Know A Rival: The New York Yankees

I shamelessly stole the idea of this post from my favorite blog Lookout Landing, I'll try to give the MFY roster an in depth look.

Blog: Pinstripe Alley

PSA's team preview

Position players:

C: Jorge Posada

1B: Mark Teixeira

2B: Robinson Cano

SS: Derek Jeter

3B: Alex Rodriguez

LF: Brett Gardner/Randy Winn

CF: Curtis Granderson

RF: Nick Swisher

DH: Nick Johnson

Bench-C: Francisco Cervelli

Bench- IF: Ramiro Pena

Bench-OF: Randy Winn

Bench-OF: Marcus Thames

Depth:

C: P.J. Pilittere, Jesus Montero

1B: Juan Miranda

2B: Kevin Russo

SS: Eduardo Nunez

OF: Jon Weber, Colon Curtis

Regression to the mean and the aging curve: Read them, learn them and love them because if they don't occur, we're screwed! And we should be calling it quit for the AL East race and just focus on the Wild Card.

From an offensive stand point they were a fantastic run producing machine: They led the league in OBP, SLG, ISO and wOBA: They were patient, they run the bases well and they hit for power so they led the league in runs scored. Does that reflects a 103-59 record? No, because they allowed 753 due to a so-so defense (-18.5 UZR) and a middle of the pack bullpen (4.33 FIP). In fact, they outperformed their Pythagorean record of 95-67: That's what a league leading 15 walkoffs wins can do for you!

They got career years from a bunch of players on the wrong side of their 35s, let's take Posada's case for example: He's one of only 9 catchers in baseball history to catch more than 100 games in their age 37 season! and he'd done it with a fashion: Among catchers with at least 430 PA in 2009 Jorge led the way in ISO, and ranked second, to Mauer, in wOBA with .378! Well, I'm going on a limp here and I'll say that he'll not repeat that kind of season because history have shown to us that this kind of performances is impossible to repeat:

On the age-37 list, the only other catcher to post an OPS of .800 or above was Carlton Fisk, who posted a .348 wOBA in 1985.In 1986 he played in 125 games, but started only 65 behind the plate and posted a lowly .600 OPS! Injuries too must be a concern as he missed 133 days over the past 2 seasons* (soulder issues in 2008 and a hamstring injury in 2009).
* Sorry CW, but I have to salivate when I read meaningless news from ST saying that Posada was scratched from a game due to Shoulder Soreness. What can I say? I'm a jerk ;)
How about Captain clutch-true Yankee-the greatest SS of all time...Derek Jeter? who posted the best season of his career (7.4 WAR) at the young age of 35? He posted a career numbers on both sides of the ball:

- He wOBA'd a gaudy .390 (career wOBA .375) with his bat.

- At an age where most the SS are moved to 2nd base, LF or DH, captain clutch, who always has been a reliability with the glove (-33.2 UZR over the last 8 seasons), "reinvented" him self and posted a 6.6 UZR!!!

I don't care what new training regimen/diet/Lasik/best shape of your life you go through,  you don't turn a butcher into a wizard, certainly not at age 36!

- The list of the players outperforming their career lines is extensive: Hideki Matsui (a career HR/FB rate 13.4%) has a 17.4% at age 35 (and no, The Yankee Stadium has nothing to do with that). Nick Swisher posted a career high wOBA helped by the Yankee Stadium (His ISO reached a career high .249!!!) Robinson Cano posted a career year too (although his young age and the fact that he plays in that bandbox might help him repeat).

What I want to say here is that the Yanks have an awesome collection of talent but those guys, every single one of them, posted a career year at an age where they're supposed to decline! Not only that but as a team, they've had some serious situational hitting: 15 walk off wins seasons are hard to come by, just ask the Rays!

Now, this team should still be one of the best offenses in the majors: They've added Curtis Ganderson (a clearly superior player to Juda) who should profits from that porch in RF and Nick Johnson who should get on base at a very good clip and hit for some power. Their 3-4 hitters are still in their prime years (although, A-Rod is reaching the end of the road) and Jeter should get on base at an elite level but that opposite field power, Yankee stadium or not, should regress to the mean!

There's other aspects that should worry the MFY fans: Injuries! Last year, the MFY lost only Xavier Nady, Wang and Alex Rodriguez to injuries for extended periods of time: After a hip surgery that made him go to the DL for 42 days, Rodriguez was the only player to return from that DL trip and contribute immensely to his team success. They get lucky (I can't find another word to summarize their 2009 season! Magic maybe?) with the other two as Nick Swisher went to put a career year and Andy Pettitte to defy the aging curve by putting a 3.3 WAR season at age 37.

This year, as you saw in the depth chart below, if a player hits the DL, they're in trouble: Marcus Thames and Randy Winn are not even Bench players on a championship team! In the infield, things get murkier: if say, Jeter breaks a pinkie sliding into second base! I mean...Ramiro flicking Pena is their UIF! Sure, he can field but no way he can repeat his .2009 career year (that word is redundant isn't it?) of... .699 OPS! Look for Cashman to make a trade for depth by mid-season.

Starters

CC Sabathia
AJ Burnett
Andy Pettitte
Javier Vazquez
Phil Hughes

Depth:

Sergio Miltre

Joba Chamberlain

Alfredo aceves

Kei Igawa

With addition of Javier Vasquez in this off season, the Yankees have the 2nd if not the 3rd best rotation in the league behind the Red Sox and maybe the Rays. Why am I saying this? After all the MFY DIPs are as good as their counterparts in the Red Sox rotation and better than the Rays'! Well not when you include defense into the picture! here's the Yanks projected UZR/150 picked from TYU.com:

http://www.i-yankees.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Picture-61.png

All the UZR/150 figures are based on a three-year period (collected via FanGraphs), though there were some players that simply did not offer much in the way of fielding data at their respective positions. For instance, prior to 2009, the last time Nick Swisher was a regular right fielder was in 2005, during his tenure in Oakland, therefore, three-year UZR/150 measures were difficult to compile. In such cases (Swisher, Gardner, Scutaro, Ellsbury), which are demarcated via an asterisk (*), I opted to utilize Jeff Zimmerman’s UZR/150 projections for the upcoming season. Not sure if that was the best method to employ, but the numbers are fairly conservative, so it seems to work.

They should be OK when the ball is hit toward the outfield but when your best projected infielder is your 1st baseman, you're in trouble when the BIP is a sharp grounder!

Let's bounce back to those starters: CC Sabathia is an elite pitcher but he has a Bartolo Colon-esque body type to go with 1894.2 IPs mileage in his arm and apparently he looked like he added some additional fat (I trust our friend Alskor on that one) and you know when Colon started to break down? The answer is: In his 2006 season with the Angels, at that time he has pitched 1876.2 innings. I would worry about that if I was, Pedro forbid, a MFY fan!

AJ Burnett is a solid pitcher who throws hard and has a knee buckling breaking ball. He used to be an injury prone pitcher but apparently he's been fine for the last 2 seasons when he has thrown a lot of innings 221.1 and 207.0 IPs. The problem is: He doesn't like to throw to Jorge Posada! Here's the numbers:

Burnett K/9 with Posada catching:  7.2

Burnett K/9 with Molina catching: 10.1

Burnett BB/9 with Posada catching: 4.2

Burnett BB/9 with Molina catching: 3.8

Molina is now playing backstop for the Jays.

Javier Vasquez used to be one of my favorite pitchers before going the Bronx: He strikes a lot of people and walks very few and he's a lock to throw 200+ innings every year: I mean... the man is made of steel: His only 15 day DL trip was for....Orbital bones fracture (yeah it's a facial injury!). Here's the thing with JV, he always fail to match his ERA to his FIP:

Career ERA: 4.19

Career FIP: 3.83

He always played with meh defenses behind him (it's not going to change now that he's in NY) with a career .302 BABIP and he has his problems when working from the stretch:

Career K/BB with bases empty: 4.26

Career K/BB with men on base: 2.63 (!!!!!!)

This is a 38% K/BB drop!! For instance the league loss is 22%.

Relivers

Mariano Rivera
David Robertson
Joba Chamberlain
Damaso Marte
Alfredo Aceves
Chan Ho Park
Sergio Mitre

Depth:

Zack McCallister

Jonathan Albaladejo

Mark Melancon

Boone Logan

Well, I love the Yankees bullpen: Anchored by the forever young Mariano Rivera (to whom the aging curve doesn't apply), they rest of the relievers are serviceable: David Robertson K's a lot of people (~13 K/9!!!), Sergio Miltre's sinker is effective (60.9% GB last year), Aceves is a good long reliever (3.59 FIP) with a good arsenal of pitches (Cutter, Fastball, curveball and change up), Damaso Marte is a good LOOGY with a 2.80 career FIP versus lefties. Park don't allow HRs...Oh wait! The only problem is the set up man (see Chamberlain, Joba): Since his shoulder injury in Texas last year, he's been struggling to gain his mid-90s velocity making his Slider irrelevant. All in all, this is a solid group that should do well.

Overall:

This is a very solid group: The best group money can buy, If everyone stays healthy an produce at a career level, they should be considered as the favorites: The guys at Replacement Level Yankee blog posted their season simulation blowout on Tuesday, using the inputs of five different projection systems and running them through Diamond Mind’s baseball simulation engine 1,000 times each to produce projected standings for the 2010 season. They come up with the MFY winning the division 40.7% of the cases and clinching the WC in 22.3%. They're projected to log 96 wins. That's how good they are!

Why You Should Root For Them If The Sox Drop Out:

The Yankees are baseball most heralded organization (Ruth, Di Maggio, Mantle and a bunch of dead people): They make money and they spend it (most of the time) wisely, to put a good product on the field year after year. They're the largest contributor to the luxury tax, this money helps small market teams blah blah blah...For Allah sake guys, help me out here! OK, if you hate the Yankees and you root against them, you hate capitalism and you hate America so you must be an unpatriotic fella and a communist!!!

I can't go more that that...really, my nose started bleeding!

Why You Should Root Against Them If The Sox Drop Out:

If I have to explain this to you then you're like the worst Red Sox fan ever*.

* I picked this one from Jeff Sullivan ;)

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