Open Thread: 2008 vs. 2007

Rasner regresses
Game 67: Observing a trend

So here we are again, a few hours away from another game in which the Yanks could sneak above that .500 mark. It’s been quite the battle really. Since April 23, the Yankees have been no more than one game above .500, and it seems as though the team has been running in place, waiting that big blow.

For the first few weeks of the season, fans were content enough to compare 2008 to 2007. The Yanks started very slow and made a race of it in the AL East last year before walking away with the Wild Card. So why couldn’t they do the same thing this year?

Right now, the Yanks are 33-33, seven games out of first. They’re also five games behind Tampa Bay for the Wild Card. Last year, at this point, the Yanks were 34-32, 8.5 games behind the Red Sox and 4.5 games behind the Wild Card-leading Tigers.

So my question for you tonight as we once again await a 10 p.m. start is this: Are the Yankees in a better spot in 2008 than in 2007 or a worse spot?

I’m leaning toward better. The team has a lot more potential than the 2007 version did, and the Yanks are primed to see contributions from some of their young guns soon. Ian Kennedy will return and hopefully throw better; Phil Hughes should be back around August. Derek Jeter won’t be so anemic at the plate for the duration of the year, and Cano should get back on track.

But perhaps you disagree. Perhaps you see an aging team with bad contracts and a piecemeal bullpen. Perhaps you see an offense relying too much on Jason Giambi‘s hot bat and Johnny Damon‘s fast start. Perhaps you are low on Kennedy and Hughes. But that’s why we debate. So have fun; play nice.

Rasner regresses
Game 67: Observing a trend
  • Simon

    I’d say better as well. The team as a whole needs to hit better, and this is far from a bad hitting team, so give ’em time and we’ll see at the allstar break.

  • Bob

    Much better. Only five games out, despite a .500 record, a rotation that seems settled, a bullpen that has been very good lately, a revived Giambi, and some intriguing prospects in Scranton that could help tremendously in the next few months. The major worry should be Cano; this is more than just a slump.

  • stuart

    they are better off because they have help in the minors that they have not had in yrs. are all these players going to help? NO, but they have enough options that if the Ynkees ever used these guys they could help.

    WHY does Melancon, gardner,cox(now hurt) and others never given a chance? hawkins, moeller, and others are taking up spots that young guys who may contribute could fill…

    3 yrs ago the minors had virtually no options….they had darrel may, redding, and other old timers… melky the 1st time called up was coming from AA, Gardner has done well at AAA, Melancon is toying with AA, etc…

    GIVe the young guys a chance, at least a few of them…

    • Matt M.

      i totally agree. they should call up melancon, robertson, gardner and cox. and get kennedy and hughes their innings when they’ve recovered.

      because honestly…whats the difference between missing the playoffs and getting booted in the first round? Cashman isnt going to come out and say it…but its pretty evident that this year was a regression year to build for 09 and beyond, with the midset that –hey with a few bounces here or there– they can be in the hunt for a ring.

      but this offense has been getting shut down by mediocre pitching. i shudder to think what’s going to happen when october and the big boys roll around.

      dont tank. but keep an ever watchful eye on preparing for a strong 09 and beyond.

      • mustang

        “Cashman isnt going to come out and say it…but its pretty evident that this year was a regression year to build for 09 and beyond”

        I’m starting to think your right.

      • Mike A.

        I think there’s a gigantic difference between missing the playoffs and getting booted in the first round. If you were a Pirates’ fan, wouldn’t love to see you’re team make the playoffs this year, even if they just end up getting swept in the NLDS?

        Making the playoffs is a great accomplishment. The Yankees aren’t up on some pedestal, like they’re better than the other teams. As a whole, Yankee fans need some more humility. The media’s brainwashed a lot of people into thinking making the playoffs and losing in the first round is a failure.

        • mustang

          I hate to say this, but the Yankees are on a pedestal that’s what comes with winning 27 Championships and being one of the signature organizations of the sport.
          When they have a 200 million dollar payroll not making the playoffs is a failure.

    • mustang

      If you’re taking about the Yankees future as an organization yes their better. But I think the thread is comparing 2007 vs. 2008 not beyond.

  • mustang

    I think worse for now. In June 2007 facing similar competition as now the Yankees went on a 9 game winning streak basically saving the season. I just don’t see that from this team.
    I must admit on paper the 2008 team seems better then the 2007 team, but it just doesn’t seem to translate on to the field. I don’t know why, but they still have a long way to go.

    • Joseph P.

      “I just don’t see that from this team.”

      People said the same exact thing about last year’s team.

      • nmc

        Yeah but the run differential was there last year. This year’s Pythagorean puts them where they’re expected.

        Not saying they can’t go on a tear and start blowing people away, or start winning more small-ball games. But, I think they need to be built to win those 3-1, 4-2 games, not just blow people out of the water like they have in the past.

        OTOH, Damon is better, Abreu is better (so far, I believe), Giambis is wayyy better. AROD was out, but he’s also having a great year. Cano is not MUCH worse than he was (though he’s picking up slower). They just can’t seem to string the hits together. So that gives me hope.

    • Steve S

      I have to disagree Mustang. Last year the numbers appear to be better right now but lets remember the path they took. They were at one point 14 games back of the red sox and cut it down to one, its debatable whether if the wild card existed if they would have won the division.

      Also this year, Mike Mussina is far outperforming his former self and what Roger Clemens provided. Not to mention that while Andy and Wang have been off for a month, I trust the back of their baseball cards and at least Wang is not at the age to have a tale off. Plus as Ben mentioned the depth is there. I know there are issues with these kids but even if one of the three work out this year and can contribute then this team is light years ahead of last years team and to an extent the years before when they relied on blind luck (also know as Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon).

      That combined with the fact that Girardi has demonstrated he knows how to use a bullpen as he is open to using all of these guys, specifically the kids in big spots and for the most part it has worked out.

      This team has a huge run in it. We can look at schedule but the bottom line is they can play with anyone in the AL when things are right. They are streaky and inconsistent, a product of playing with a lot of kids in the rotation. BUT, these are the types of teams that get hot for an extended period of time.

  • dan

    2008 is better.

    Damon, Giambi and Rivera have been great, Matsui has been very good…. but outside of that, virtually everything has gone wrong. Tons of injuries and guys playing below their potential– Pettitte, Jeter, Cano, Farns, bench, etc. Yet they’re only 7 games out. I’m optimistic.

  • Mike A.

    Better. That 2007 team would have looked much, much uglier if it wasn’t for a certain third baseman.

    • mustang

      They still have that certain third baseman and their not exactly blowing teams out the water.

      • Mike A.

        Yes, but A-Rod’s monster season covered up a lot of ugliness last year, especially in April and May.

        • mustang


  • JT

    Worse! The division is much tougher. yeah yeah, the rays will come back down to earth, but its going to be much harder to come back than last year. Dont sleep on the blue jays. If they can learn to hit, they will be dangerous. Regardless, they can shut down our off and on offense with ease. We are under 500 against our division. These are not good signs.

    Chew on this..

    at this time last year we had a +46 run differential, were at .500, and 2nd in the division.
    Boston at that time was +81 run differential and were 9.5 games ahead of us.

    fast forward to 2008.
    Back to this year, we have a -9 run differential, are at .500, and tied for 3rd in the division.
    Boston has a +56 run differential and is 7 games ahead of us.

    • JT

      You can say last year we were unlucky to be at 500 with such a positive run differential.

      This year we are LUCKY to be at 500 with a negative run differential…

      I see no reason to believe we will come back.

    • Jamal G.

      Wouldn’t your statistical breakdown speak to the pro-2008 argument? If the team has not played to the level of where they were at last year both in the pitching and offensive department but are still just one win shy of the 2007 total then that would make me say we have played worse and are still at the same point. So we are due for a big breakout.

      • JT

        I was more looking at it like, if we keep playing like this, we are going to start dropping below .500 instead of gaining games on the competition.

  • Jamal G.

    I’d say better but not because the Yankees themselves, rather the American League itself. There is not one dominant team in the AL, there is no team off to a hot start a la the 2007 Red Sox. I said it a couple days ago and I’m saying it again, the Red Sox are going to suffer a bad streak, a real bad one. They are heading int a part of there schedule where they will play 16 of their next 22 games away from Fenway Park, where they have 14-20 thus far. Every other division leading team in their respective AL divisions have more than a couple red flags to worry about.

    I am one to never worry about a team week-to-week or game-by-game until August, late July at the earliest. Right now I just focus on a team month-by-month.

    Lastly, this is a bit off-topic but for those of you who have found issues with Joe Girardi’s managerial styles and decisions couldn’t there be a credible argument to the idea that he is finding out what he has in his team? He is seeing what he can and can not get out of his players? Remember, not only is this his first year as the Yankee skipper but this is only his second year as a skipper in general.

    • Mike A.

      I’ve been critical of Girardi, but I’ll admit that he needs more time before he can rightly be judged. I think I’m more or less poking fun at the people that thought he was some great manager and willing to think out-of-the-box, which he clearly isn’t at this point.

  • stuart

    I think the yanks can make the playoffs and really almost no team impresses me.. I think the sux and angels are by far the best teams in the AL..If Melancon is the real deal, if either veras, bruney, edwar, or someone from below can be a reliable 3rd pen option. if jeter and cano hit better then they are this team will be fine.
    I expect Joba to be a n upgrade and hope and think Wang and Pettitte can and will pitch better, therefore they can compete for the playoffs..

    man what would it be like not to have kyle, latroy, and other dead weight on the roster???

    We can dream…

    • Mike A.

      Next year baby. And besides, almost every team has some dead weight on the roster. It’s almost unavoidable.

      • mustang

        You mean Hughes and IPK.

        Just kidding,

      • mustang

        Isn’t sad that some us are already talking about next year.
        No disrespect I just wish they were better.

        • Mike A.

          I’m not looking towards next year. My little “next year baby” comment was in response to your “man what would it be like not to have kyle, latroy, and other dead weight on the roster???” comment. I should have made that more clear.

          It’s way too early to give up on this season. Way way way too early.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    I tend to think worse. I don’t know why. I expected them to gel last year and they did. I saw some desperation for it to gel…for them to all get on the same page. I don’t see that this year. I just see too many, including Girardi, content to be where they are. I think Moose and Mo have shown some frustration and Andy to some extent but I don’t see anyone else getting upset over their bad play.

    I notice the offense isn’t weighing in except when it comes to Joba. Comon guys let’s talk about YOU. You Melky sliding into first. You Giambi muffing the defense. You Robinson Cano hacking at bad pitches and sleeping in the field. You Jeter: what the hell is wrong with you right now? I do have issues with Farnswoth and Hawkins but I find it hard to fault anyone else on the pitching staff. Andy’s not playing well and Wang had a bad few games but I never think they’re phoning it in. A few of the offense I think is.

    I’m having issues with their ability to manufacture runs and get guys home. If they could only do that, it would be a whole different game. But as long as they’re content to be where they are and Girardi thinks it’s okay, well then we will be fighting for 500 the whole season and end without a shot at the playoffs.

  • Jamal G.

    Heh, on Monday’s day off we should have an open-thread on how we would fix the New York Mets. That seems to be the biggest storyline in baseball right now, it is just scary bad at this point.

    • Mike A.

      That team is going to get worse before it gets better. Lots of long term commitments remaining (Santana, Castillo, Beltran) and a barren farm system. Imagine if they didn’t have Wright and Reyes.

      • Jamal G.

        Imagine what the Yankees would like like if Brian Cashman hadn’t been given the keys to the team in 2005…oh wait, just look at SNY every night at 7-PM EST!

        • Mike A.


        • mustang

          So true.

      • LiveFromNewYork

        But they have the last great hope: Johan Santana. How is their suckiness even possible?

        • Mike A.

          No depth at all. When players get hurt, they have to turn to retreads like Tatis and Aguila. And people were complaining about the Yankees’ backup plans.

  • http://RiverAve.Blues Joseph M

    I hope your right Ben, I hope all the other posters are right also. I want to be wrong and I want to eat crow, that said I have to tell you I don’t like what I see.

    The thing that concerns me most has been the poor play of Cano. He is a big time talent for sure but most of his at bats this year have have been stunning lacking both focus and plate discipline. Where is there any sign he is maturing as a player ready to harnest his potential.

    I think the jury is still out on the pitching staff. Mussina’s season might be a case of smoke and mirrors with a bad moon rising just off in the distance. I’m not expecting much from Hughes this season, and Kennedy is a real work in progress. Andy could come around (we all hope) and Wong could be on his way to 19 again but I feel he has peaked ( I was one of the few in favor of dealing him and Kennedy for Santana). The bullpen outside of Rivera has a way to go to convince me it’s little more than a haphazard operation almost as likely to fail as to get the job done.

    If it was my decision I would not retain Brian Cashman, I feel he has to take the brunt of the blame for putting this underwhelming collection of talent on the field.

    I hope I’m wrong, but right now I see 85 to 88 wins and an October without pinstripes.

    • Jamal G.

      The “…underwhelming collection of talent…” was the very much of the same group of players that was the best team in baseball last season from July till the end of the season.

      • LiveFromNewYork

        and they folded like a bad deck of cards in the playoffs. Our ace sucked, Joba was clobbered by midges while Nero Torre fiddled, Jorge — red hot in the regular season was cold as ice as was Jeter. Arod wasn’t his usual sucky self in the playoffs but he can’t win a game by himself. Andy looked good and Phil and Moose smoked out of the bullpen. Everyone else just sucked.

        In some ways I’d prefer for them to stay mediocre and not crush my hopes with a first round exit.

        • JT

          It sure is hard to be a fan. I agree.

    • JT

      According to stats from fangraphs, cano is actually swing at less pitches out of the zone than he did last year. 31% compared to 34%. The problem is that he is making contact 80% of the time compared to 69% last year! Thus the weak ground outs or pop ups instead of just a strike.

      To me, these stats are very telling.

      • Jamal G.

        So his improvement in his swing is hurting his production, cool.

  • A.D.

    I’d say better, especially looking at the anemic offense & the untimely hitting/ untimely hitting. It seems when we score runs we don’t need them, when we get great pitching we don’t score and etc. This is just random lack of luck, and its bound to turn. If Giambi & Damon can keep it up & the other follow they will rip off a streak, and there’s enough guys in walk years that you’d expect them to have monster seasons.

    And if its not to be there as lot to look forward to

  • Manimal

    They dont capitalize on good pitching and the old offense doesnt score runs when they need too. I’m pretty close to calling it a season and looking forward to next season. The yankees barely made the playoffs last year and with young teams leading divisions all across the board, all the yankees have are the same old farts in their lineup.

    • JT

      Thats the same cliche about every bad team in the league. They dont score enough runs when they need to, and cant pitch well enough when they dont score runs… I dont think this is areally a bad team, but we are definitely playing badly. I do think there are some changes that need to be made.

      1. they need to dfa moeller asap. Since when does rivera not climb the ladder when he has a 0-2. When moeller is catching him…
      2. duncan has been figured out by the league. he needs to go
      3. we need some speed of the bench. You know the bench is slow when betetmit pinch runs for giambi.

      • Manimal

        Get real dude, turn off your yankee fan perspective and look at this team. They cannot stay above .500 even if their life depended on it. That typically, is a sign OF A 500 TEAM! 500 teams never make the playoffs.This team needs some new players and quick.

        • Manimal

          and a new GM, im sick of cashman and his big signings. Did he really think Hawkins was more reliable than the Vizz?

          • JT

            um, viz is injured and sucks. I’m glad we didnt sign Vizz. I am upset about alot of cashmans signings, althought some of them you cant fault.

            But how would this team look with Vlad in RF and Beltran in CF. Beltran may suck on the mets, but on a team where he doesnt have to carry the load, i think he can be a great player

          • whozat

            You mean the Viz that wanted (and got) a multi year deal and then went on the DL shortly after?

          • Mike A.

            Do you really think LaTroy Hawkins is the reason this team is only .500?

        • JT

          Whoa, I didnt disagree with you in my post. Like i said, if you can apply that cliche to a team, that team is usually bad, or doing badly.

          With the players they have (the same players that played to a +700 winning percentage in the second half of last year) they “should” be better than .500. But alot of things need to fall right for that to happen. I agree with you that the team as they are playing this year, sucks. I just havent given up hope completely.

  • Manimal

    NOOOO albaladejo is done for the season with a stress fracture in his elbow.

    • LiveFromNewYork

      That SUCKS.

  • BigBlueAL

    This is a tough one. You guys may not believe much in run differential, especially at this stage of the season, but i think it may turn out to be a very telling stat. Granted, ALOT of it had to do with Arod’s amazing season, but last season even at this point when the Yankees won, they fuckin destroyed teams. Last year the weekend series vs the Royals wouldve been an easy sweep, this season it was 3 1-run games with the Yankees losing 2 of them. Also last season at this time, even though he turned out to be an slightly above average injury-proned starter, the Yankees were sky high with the Clemens signing, and the return of injury from Hughes (coming off his no-hit performance, not the crap he has pitched this season) and the talk about Joba in the minors.

    For as poor as Cano and Jeter have hit, Moose and Rasner have been WAY over what anyone expected, and their coming back down to Earth is inevitable which could prove more costly than any offensive resurgence. I think the most important point has nothing to do with the Yankees, as Jamal points out the rest of the AL this season is nothing compared to last season. There is less crap (i.e. Tampa, Texas, Baltimore etc) but not nowhere near as strong at the top. But unlike Jamal, i dont expect a Boston meltdown because quite frankly they are who the Yankees used to be in the late 90’s thru 2004, a team that no matter what just wins games.

    But 90 wins should at least get a Wild Card spot most likely, and hopefully Cashman pulls off some 2000 in-season trading magic, even though most of you believe just call-up guys from the minors, but i seriously believe if this team is to make the playoffs, they will need to make moves like in 2000 or the Abreu heist in 2006.

    • JT

      I agree.

      I would like to add that trading Cano is not the answer. Ok we get Sabathia, but then who is playing 2b? If the yankees are going to make a run, Jeter and Cano need to start hitting. Trading Cano will only open wholes in the up the middle defense.

      • BigBlueAL

        I dont mean anything crazy like giving up Cano and the farm for Sabathia. In 2000 Cashman made many under the radar moves like picking Jose Vizcaino and Glenallen Hill for peanuts. He traded for Justice out of nowhere when everybody expected the Yankees to get Sosa after the Juan Gonzalez deal fell thru. Even though Denny Neagle eventually sucked come playoff time, getting him was huge and he did pitch very good at first which helped the Yankees establish their huge AL East lead which even losing 14 of final 17 didnt cost them. They got Abreu and Lidle for nothing. I dont think they need to sell the farm to get a major move to win it all this season, not at all, but there is no way in hell with this bench and pitching staff that i believe they will be able to make the playoffs unless they make a couple of upgrades and tweaks here and there.

        Calling up minor league arms who r coming off major surgeries is not the answer. Cox and Melancon should not be forced to the majors, let them pitch entire 2008 in the minors and next season by all means have them in the majors. I think if you really believe those guys will save the bullpen and pitch great come August and September you might be dreaming a bit and putting too much on them.

      • LiveFromNewYork

        There are a couple of vendors at the Stadium who can field like nobody’s business. I think they’d be cheaper than Robbie.

  • pete

    a month ago i would have said 2008 is better, no question, but we’re still waiting for them to really turn it around. Last June, the yanks started playing .700 ball (and continued to do so the rest of the way). They went on a couple of major roles including a 9 game winning streak and won a huge percentage of series. This year, we’re still waiting to get past the .500 benchmark. That said, we could be at 5 over 5 games from now, in which case i would argue that based on the lack of established competition (i.e. in the not-so-futile hopes of the rays, white sox, A’s falling off) for the wild card, we would be in great shape. However, last years team got hot streaks, and we have yet to win more than 5 in a row (we of course followed that by losing 2 of 3 to baltimore), simply have not gotten on any sort of roll whatsoever. Wang had a great winning streak in april, but couldn’t sustain it into may, pettitte has just not been good at all, neither have jeter or cano, and hughes and kennedy were horrific. Many would (legitimately) argue that that is a sign that this team will almost certainly improve by a good margin, because the law of averages dictates that if a team is .500 with such a plethora of players underperforming in relation to their career averages, when these players return to form (as they should), the record will go up, plus chamberlain hasn’t truly become part of the rotation yet. However, it is equally important to remember that Mussina is 9-4 with a sub-4 ERA, Rasner has (sans last night) been brilliant, rivera hasn’t blown a save (though he did lose that game against the royals), damon and matsui are both battiing .330, and jason giambi has 15 hrs. The esteemed law of averages may acquaint us with its uglier side this season, too. All that said, though, if the offense does truly perform the way it is supposed to (i.e. jeet, cano get going without anyone else slowing down much), and Wang, Pettitte, and Joba all pitch the way they are supposed to, I think our shot to make the playoffs is very legitimate this year, because i don’t trust the Rays offense or back end of the pitching staff to hold up all year, and there’s almost nothing i trust about the white sox or A’s. In other words, I think the cutoff for the wildcard this year could be somewhere between 90 and 92, which would for the yankees mean merely sustaining their current (past 20 games or so) level of play for the rest of the year. If they put together any kind of winning streak or extended period of exceptional (.700 or better) play, then they’ve got an even better chance. I simply don’t see 90 wins out of any other AL team this year besides Boston and Anaheim and possibly, just based on the weakness of their division, the Indians.

  • Lanny

    All that matters is what the AL is like.

    Last yr we had multiple teams to hop over. Good teams.

    This yr?

    Whos scared of the Rays? The Central is done. The A’s will sell off in a month.

    We are going to cruise to the WC.

  • EricS

    One thing I didn’t see mentioned is that the Yanks’ 2 best offensive players (ARod, Posada) were out of the lineup for long stretches this year. I think if they can stay healthy and the rest of the lineup continues as you’d project (Damon/Giambi regress, Melky/Cano/Jeter get a little hotter) they’ll be fine offensively. It’s hard to get a read on the pitching, but it’s hard to imagine the starters or short relievers (non-Joba division) getting any worse.

    And, I think the Sox are much less formidable this year. They’re getting it done, but at some point they’ll miss Papi.

    So I’d vote for being in better shape this year. Which is not to say I expect another miracle.