Now that the trade rumor market has died down, Fox Sports’s Ken Rosenthal has taken to analyzing teams. Up today, our very own Yankees. Rosenthal says that the team might be in a similar position next year, as even money can’t cover up some of their shortcomings.
Still, even if the Yankees landed Sabathia and Teixeira, they would be stuck with the same questionable group of young starting pitchers and many of the same underperforming hitters.
Yet, in a paragraph earlier in the article, Rosenthal admits that landing Sabathia would give the Yanks one of the top rotations in the league, headed by the big guy, Chien Ming Wang, and Joba Chamberlain. If the Yankees are able to bring back Mussina and Pettitte, and I presume they’ll make every effort to do so, then how in the world would they have the same young pitching problems as this year? Instead of handing Hughes and Kennedy de facto rotation spots, each would have to earn it. And even then, we’ve already listed five guys. With Sabathia in tow, Phil Hughes could easily start 2009 in Scranton.
Remember, the Yankees spent heavily last offseason — $275 million for third baseman Alex Rodriguez, $52.4 million for catcher Jorge Posada, $45 million for closer Mariano Rivera, $16 million each for Pettitte and right fielder Bobby Abreu. Those were all players who had proven they could play in New York. And yet, here are the Yankees, on track to miss the postseason for the first time since 1993.
I’m sorry, this is just lazy. All of those players were on the team last year. There was no upgrade. If they add Sabathia and Teixeira — and no, I am not necessarily advocating signing both, though there are worse off-seasons in which to do it — they will be complete and total upgrades over what we currently have. Or would have next year otherwise.
He also talks about Yankees players in decline, pointing the finger directly at Derek Jeter. You know what? There’s a decent chance that he comes back with another stellar year next year. Who knows what’s wrong with him in 2008. In any case, it seems he’s overcome it, as he’s hitting .352/.392/.432 in August. If he puts up those numbers over the course of next season, not a single person will complain. Yes, things might get worse for the Captain. Players at his age tend to hit a downslope. But that’s far from a given.
Further on Jeter, Rosenthal speculates on a position change. The most irksome passage here is where Rosenthal says Jeter’s bat is inadequate for first base. Yes, he would represent a lower than league average bat at first. But you know what? The ’77 and ’78 Yanks won the World Series with Chris Chambliss playing first. Even adjusting for the time periods, I would think that Jeter could keep that pace (112 and 100 OPS+ figures, respectively for Chambliss). With the correct pieces elsewhere, including Jeter’s replacement at short, this shouldn’t be an enormous problem.
It’s sexy to beat up on the Yanks. No, they’re not perfect. Yes, they have some flaws which might not be worked out by Opening Day ’09. But they’re far from hopeless. With a few calculated upgrades this off-season, the Yanks could be in a much better position in 2009.