Fun with Bill James’ projections: The Lineup


Last week I looked at what sabermetric guru Bill James projects for the Yanks’ rotation next year, and now it’s time to take a gander at the lineup. While many hope the Yanks pounce on free agents Manny Ramirez, Mark Teixeira or Adam Dunn, it’s very likely that the Yanks won’t add a bat and instead go into the season with Nick Swisher at first and some homegrown youngster manning centerfield.

We’re used to juggernaut offenses that threaten 1,000 runs each season, but this year is different. Alex Rodriguez is the only proven homerun threat, while most of the other guys expected to hit in the middle of the order are more likely to line one into the gaps than shoot it over the fence. Save for one or two outliers, the lineup is full of guys that will grind out at-bats and work their fair share of walks. He might see more hit-and-runs and RBI ground outs than we’re used too, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Homers can only take you so far, especially once you face better pitching down the stretch and in the playoffs.

So let’s get to it. What does James see for the Yanks offense next year? Fun starts after the jump.

Robinson Cano, 2B
: .295-.333-.461, 81 R, 42 2B, 17 HR, 86 RBI, 72-31 K/BB, .345 wOBP
Those numbers are essentially Cano’s career averages, so while James sees a bounceback from his subpar 2008 campaign, it doesn’t look like Robbie will take a step forward in his development. Only three AL second basemen had a wOBP that high last year, so Cano will still be an above average producer at the second sack. The real question is whether or not he can improve on the 3.27 career P/PA.

Johnny Damon, LF
: .281-.355-.419, 96 R, 29 2B, 14 HR, 65 RBI, 82-62 K/BB, .345 wOBP
Johnny had a remarkable 2008 campaign, his best since 2004 and one of the best four seasons of his career. Considering that, it’s easy to understand why the 35 year old Damon projects to regress in 2009. He’d still remain a useful centerfielder but just an adequate corner outfield, and a solid leadoff man. Damon’s going to be a free agent after the year, but he’s had down years in his previous two walk years. Now would be a good time for Johnny to buck that trend.

Derek Jeter, SS
: .307-.377-.432, 102 R, 32 2B, 14 HR, 73 RBI, 101-59 K/BB, .361 wOBP
Oh captain my captain. Jeter may or may not have been battling an injured wrist in 2008, but he projects to have a bounceback year on par with his 2007 effort. Jeter has entered the decline phase of his career, but he’s still a top notch offensive shortstop – only Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes had wOBP’s higher in ’08 than what Jeter is projected to do in ’09. He should have another two or three elite offensive seasons in him. Or at least I hope he does.

Hideki Matsui, DH
: .288-.370-.457, 72 R, 26 2B, 17 HR, 77 RBI, 70-58 K/BB, .364 wOBP
After battling hobbled knees for much of the past two seasons, Godzilla projects to have a fine bounceback year as the Yanks’ primary DH next season. Bobby Abreu hit .286-.371-.471 this year, so Matsui’s projection suggests that he’ll comfortably replace him in ’09. His power numbers will be down a touch, but a healthy Matsui goes a long way towards improving the Yanks offense next year.

Xavier Nady, RF
: .284-.337-.473, 71 R, 32 2B, 23 HR, 86 RBI, 108-36 K/BB, .352 wOBP
A Scott Boras client, Nady could have a monster contract year in store for 2009, but James doesn’t see it. Rather, he sees Nady coming back down to Earth after his breakout 2008 campaign, yet remaining an above average offensive player. The season projected for Nady in 2009 would be the second best season of his career, but we’d like to see him do a little more than that.

Jorge Posada, C
: .277-.378-.455, 65 R, 29 2B, 17 HR, 78 RBI, 104-70 K/BB, .368 wOBP
Holy crap. I think everyone and their mother would be ecstatic if Jorge Posada had a year like that in 2009. A notch below his career averages, those kind of stats would still make Posada one of the two or three most productive catchers in the AL. We can only hope he has a season like that.

Alex Rodriguez, 3B
: .293-.396-.565, 115 R, 29 2B, 42 HR, 120 RBI, 134-84 K/BB, .415 wOBP
Captain Unclutch will to be back to his usual stat-padding ways in ’09, with a projection that is basically his career average. He’ll probably lead the AL in VORP (again), finish in the top ten in wOBP (again), top three in homers (again), and top the majors in unclutch three run homers in the first three innings of the game (again). It’s just A-Rod being A-Rod.

Nick Swisher, 1B
: .240-.359-.451, 78 R, 27 2B, 23 HR, 71 RBI, 122-80 K/BB, .358 wOBP
James sees a nice rebound year from Swish, who ran into some bad luck with the White Sox in 2008. Never one to hit for a high average, he’ll continue to draw oodles of walks and knock plenty of balls deep for extra base hits. While he won’t be as productive as Jason Giambi, Swisher should be an above average offensive first basemen that drives pitchers nuts – did you know that he worked the count full in 22.9% of his plate appearances last year? That’s freaking insane.

* * *

So as you probably noticed, I neglected to include a centerfielder in there. If the Yanks opt to go with Melky Cabrera, they’re looking at a nice little .276-.337-.393 stat line. Brett Gardner? .271-.367-.354. If they end up making that long rumored Mike Cameron deal, they’ll get .237-.325-.434 and 24 homers out of their centerfielder, their best output from the position in three years. I’m still hopeful they’ll swing the deal with the Brewers, but I’d be okay with Gardner out there everyday. At least until he shows he’s completely overmatched.

So based on those projections, how many runs could we expect the Yanks score next year? If you assume Melky holds down the CF job, they’d be good for 5.774 runs per game using Dave Pinto‘s Lineup Analysis tool. With Gardner that bumps up to 5.808, and with Cameron they project for 5.793 runs per game. In case you’re wondering, the Yanks averaged 4.870 runs per game in 2008.

Now, these are just projections, and optimistic ones at that, so take them with a hearty grain of salt. This is no way represents what we here at RAB expect out of these players next year; it’s just a fun way to kill time during the offseason.

Next week: TEH 8tH InNiNG!1!one!! the bullpen.

Categories : Analysis


  1. AndrewYF says:

    I guess Bill James is projecting the Yankees to win 120 games next year.

  2. Tom Gaffney says:

    Dude, you’ve got to stop with the WOBP, it’s WOBA. I know it’s a little thing, but it drives me crazy for some odd reason. :-)

  3. Tom Gaffney says:

    Great article, though, appreciate the post and the thought behind it – hate to nitpick (yet I keep doing it… huh).

    • Jay CT says:

      So, maybe you should respond to the people saying your nitpicking is wrong, since you like to point out the faults of others, while pimping YOUR blog on someone elses blog.

  4. jsbrendog says:

    why don’t we put joba in lf?

  5. Tom Gaffney says:

    If you take James at his word that .340 WOBA is average, then every single players in the lineup (except center?) will be above average – nice and balanced.

  6. Jamal G. says:

    I enjoy the fact that most people out there are fearful of the 2009 offense when the Yanks’ bats in 2008 were basically league-average with the vast injuries and regressions.

    Also, I find it a bit amusing that this projection system has Brett Gardner posting an OBP that would have seen him record the highest amongst MLB center fielders not named Bossman Junior (.383), Carlos Beltran (.376), Grady Sizemore (.374) or Josh Hamilton (.371).

  7. Ryan S. says:

    Basically 5.75 to 5.80 runs per game? I’ll sign up for that right now, thank you very much.

    What catches my eyes the most:

    1. Jeter is projected to generate 100+ runs, always a good sign.

    2. Cano should be an above average, if not outstanding, 2B … I’ll take it

    3. Our CF position won’t be quite so gruesome.

    4. All in all, it looks like we have a very balanced offensive presence according to Bill James. Besides Rodriguez, just about everyone is projected to contribute between 70 to 85 runs and RBIs, and have a .350 wOBP. On paper, seems like a fine balance.

    I’m sure people who have seen me post know I’m a big proponent of Tex/Manny/Dunn, but I will not be up in arms if we bring out a lineup like this next year. We should do just fine.

  8. AndrewYF says:

    You can all kill me later on for this, but I think the Yankees will have a hard time topping 840 runs next season.

    • Jamal G. says:

      Well, seeing as how the Texas Rangers (901), Chicago Cubs (855) and Boston Red Sox (845) were the only clubs in MLB to top that mark in 2008, I don’t see that as much of a slight against the 2009 Yankees if they are unable to surpass that benchmark.

      • AndrewYF says:

        Oh, I agree. I think people are not only down on the Yankees’ offense, but down on what scoring 800 or so runs actually means for an offense.

        I also don’t think Melky will come close to that .730 OPS. If he does, it will be a minor miracle.

    • Ryan S. says:

      That’s still a substantial increase from what we did last year (something like 780). But even if we don’t get another bat this offseason (which we very well might, and I hope we do), we can always trade for one sometime during the season.

  9. J says:

    I’m curious how our projections compare to the RaySox lineups.

  10. Mike W. says:

    Can some of you stat guys give your thoughts on this article:,-Rays

    It is a pretty interesting point of view. I don’t agree with Perry that they haven’t moved ahead of the other two teams, but I do agree that we need some offense.

    • Jamal G. says:

      He reads like a guy who was just introduced to sabermetrics this past week and thinks he’s now “in the know”.

      • Stephen says:

        Dayn Perry is weird. He was a huge contributor to Baseball Between the Numbers, so he’s definitely not new to Sabermetricss, but then he occasionally writes things like this. I don’t get it.

    • “On the offensive side, last season the Yankees ranked seventh in the 14-team AL in runs scored. Worse for the mediocre New York attack is the fact that they had the oldest lineup in all of baseball in 2008 (average age of 31.3), and they haven’t gotten measurably younger. Jason Giambi, one of their most productive hitters last season, is no more, and he’s being replaced by Nick Swisher, who hit .219 in 2008. They must hope that Robinson Cano, Melky Cabrera, and Swisher all have bounceback seasons. Everyone else is on the wrong side of 30 and not likely to improve. Given age-related decline up and down the lineup, the Yanks might find themselves in the bottom quartile of AL offenses.”

      No mention of:
      1) Posada’s absence (or, for that matter, Matsui’s absence)
      2) The fluky seasons of ARod and Giambi, where they remained productive overall but bizarrely unproductive in run-scoring opportunities, a trend not likely to be repeated by ARod
      3) The injuries to Jeter and ARod, two guys “on the wrong side of 30″ who ARE likely to improve
      4) The possibility of league average or better production at CF from either Gardner or Cameron

      And really, citing Swisher’s batting average? I thought Dayn Perry was a sabermetrician. What’s up with that? Was this written by an intern?

      “The Yankees can’t play defense. As with the offense, the Yankees’ advancing age and lack of turnover among position players means that the defense is likely to be even worse in 2009.”

      Here’s the actual “lack of turnover” between 2008 and 2009:
      C: Molina for Posada (big defensive downgrade)
      1B: Giambi for Swisher, or possibly Tex (defensive upgrade, possibly a huge one)
      CF: Melky/Damon for Gardner/Cameron (big defensive upgrade)
      RF: Abreu for Nady (gargantuan defensive upgrade)

      “The state of the middle infield is particularly troubling. Derek Jeter at short and Cano at second are both sub-optimal defenders, and in Jeter’s case he can expect further decline with the glove. Since Sabathia and Burnett, the Yankees’ two marquee additions, both show above-average groundball tendencies, that should be a concern.”

      A) Groundball pitchers are a GOOD thing, not a bad thing. Groundballs get turned into outs more than flyballs, generally speaking, even with bad defenses. What you don’t want is flyball pitchers who give up homers and line drives, balls that your aging defense either can’t catch or aren’t fast enough to reach.
      B) The 2009 rotation of Sabathia, Burnett, Wang, Joba and Pettitte stands to give up fewer line drives and more poorly-hit easy grounders than the 2008 rotation of Mussina, Pettitte, half a season of Joba, a third of a season of Wang, and oodles of Hughes, Kennedy, Pavano, Ponson, Rasner, Giese, etc. etc. etc.


      Seriously, this article is horrid. There’s zero context at all in it. If you actually examine what he’s claiming, and look at what went wrong with the 2008 Yankees and what we’ve done this offseason, you get the exact opposite conclusion: all three aspects (offense, defense, and pitching) stand to be much better.

      • Thomas says:

        My favorite part was how he mentions that having Sabathia and Burnett will induce a lot of groundballs for a poor defense. However, he neglects to mention how many more strikeouts each will get (compared to last years team), thus removing defense from the equation.

        • Yeah, that too. He made it seem like adding pitchers that strike out a ton of guys and induce a lot of grounders is exactly what an old, poor defense DOESN’T want.

          Intellectually dishonest.

        • A.D. says:

          or the fact that by the nature they are replacing Ponson & Rasner, that their GB rate doesnt matter as much as the 1.5-2 runs less in ERA over they course of a season

          Otherwise TSJC, i fully enjoyed the systematic tearing a new one for this article

      • Ryan S. says:

        tsjc, you laid it down right there. That article was a POS and you ripped it to shreds in a completely objective way. I can’t believe that guy is paid to write bullshit like that.

      • Mike W. says:

        Nice job bro.

    • Oh, and this is a classic bait and switch. Pay attention here:


      “And speaking of the rotation, it isn’t as improved as you might think. There’s no assailing Sabathia’s excellence, but the Yankees may live to regret giving five years and more than $80 million to Burnett. Burnett’s injury problems have been widely chronicled (just twice has he pitched 200 or more innings in a season), and as mentioned the infield defense isn’t going to do him any favors.

      Now consider Burnett’s remarkably unremarkable season in 2008. In the AL last season, the run-scoring levels were at their lowest since 1992. Despite the environment, Burnett posted a rather middling ERA of 4.07. And that was while toiling in front of a much better defense. Certainly, his 2008 peripheral numbers were strong, but it bears repeating that the Yankee infield defense is going to hurt him. So what are Burnett’s prospects for being healthy and putting up near-ace numbers in 2009? Not good. And let’s not forget that the rotation will be without Mike Mussina’s 200.1 innings and 3.37 ERA.


      Perry mentions Sabathia AND Burnett, but then spends the entire two paragraphs bashing Burnett and never once mentioning Sabathia again. And he closes the passage with a juxtaposition of Burnett vs. the departed Yankee “ace”, Mike Mussina, to draw a contrast. You’re supposed to come away from that thinking this:

      A) The Yankees had Mike Mussina, who was good
      B) Mussina left, and the Yankees replaced him with A.J. Burnett, who is less good.
      C) Therefore, the Yankees rotation will be less good.

      Sabathia, the REAL ace and the best replacement for Mussina, is ignored in the analysis. It’s a red herring.

  11. Matt says:

    I say use 4 outfileders in damon, gardner, cabrera, and nady and slotting them in when there hot. I personally think Cabrera will have a wake-up season after his demotion last year and who knows about Gardner, that dude has great speed but does anyone know how good his arm is.

  12. YoDawg says:

    But the main problem is depth. Guys will get injured. This is why it is preferrable to have a guy like Nady on the bench instead of the starting lineup. Because he would be a good backup player in case someone gets hurt. But who gets the corner OF backup spot right now? And what if Jeter or Cano get hurt? Cody Ransom?? The replacement level subsititutes would really hurt this offense. So unless this aging lineup can escape the injury bug, which seems unlikely, the Yankees would be wise to add another bat like Dunn to provide some depth and push Nady to the bench.

    • Jamal G. says:

      The replacement level subsititutes substitutes would really hurt this offense any offense in Major League Baseball.


    • A.D. says:

      So you worry about Jeter & Cano getting hurt, and to remedy this you will sign Dunn to bench Nady?

      I agree a great bench would be excellent, the problem is its hard to sign players up to ride the pine, that could be good major league starters

    • jsbrendog says:

      yeah because on the “dynasty teams” we wouldnt have bee screwed if jeter or duncan/fernandez, knoblauch, etc got hurt by replacing them with sojo/vizcaino/gallego/your uncle

  13. Old Ranger says:

    Like the idea of someone else getting on the Brett Gardner band wagon. Maybe (I hope), I haven’t been so off base all year. The projections for him may be a little high but, not unattainable. Brett is the best CF, defensible and offensively, out there to be had. 27/09.

  14. Mike R. says:

    Who do you guys think will be this year’s surprise performer. The player that blows his projections out of the water. Last season’s was Moose without a doubt. I think this year it might be Pettite if he returns, maybe Gardner.

  15. brianyanks says:

    If we dont add anyone …. who’s hitting in the three hole? cano? nady?

  16. Joe K. says:

    I really think we should avoid shelling a out big, long & expensive contract to Tex and try to see what it would take to get someone like Atkins to come from the Rockies, they would want young pitching in return and that’s something that we have in excess. What do you guys think?

    • Matt says:

      Not a bad idea, however, I have a hard time getting guys from the NL especially Colorado. Its gonna be intersting to see how Holliday does in Oakland this year

    • Mike W. says:

      Where are you playing him? 1B? If so, what are you doing with Swisher?

      • Joe K. says:

        Leave Swisher as a 4th outfielder, I’m just scared that hes going to strike out 45% of the time.

        Also I just checked Atkin’s home/away stats, not that good. Coors puts an amazing skew.

        Atkins Home (career):
        AB 1192 HR 44 BB 114 SO 146 BA .337 OPS .394 SLG .527 OPS .921

        Atkins Away (career):
        AB 1242 HR 45 BB 124 SO 215 BA .260 OPS .328 SLG .424 OPS .752

        Swisher Home (career):
        AB 1041 HR 56 BB 174 SO 251 BA .243 OPS .358 SLG .468 OPS .825

        Swisher Away (career):
        AB 1073 HR 55 BB 154 SO 288 BA .244 OPS .351 SLG .435 OPS .786

        I guess I just see more upside in Atkins, does anyone know who is better defensively?

        • Leave Swisher as a 4th outfielder, I’m just scared that hes going to strike out 45% of the time.

          Well, actually, Swisher doesn’t strike out 45% of the time. Nobody strikes out 45% of the time, not even Rob Deer. Swisher strikes out 25% of the time, and, again, that’s a function of working the count and getting on base. If you run the count full and average about 4 and a half pitches per plate appearance, you’re also going to have some called third strikes on you (and some battles you just lose).

          Which brings us back to the central point: OBP. OBP is, like, 20 times more important than K rate, because, again, strikeouts are not fundamentally different than flyouts/popouts/groundouts/foulouts, etc., but every time you come to the plate and DON’T make an out of some sort but get on base, you’re helping your team win.

          Swisher having a career K% of 25.5 doesn’t necessarily make him an unproductive or bad player (it just means he makes a good chunk of his outs via strikeout.) But Swisher having a lifetime OBP of .354 DOES necessarily make him a productive and good player (since he makes outs of any variety less frequently than most players).

          • UWS says:

            Why some people don’t get the supreme importance of OBP and the relative uselessness of K rates is something I’ve given up trying to understand. Much like the B-Jobbers, they simply refuse to be convinced otherwise.

            • jsbrendog says:

              i believe you should throw avg in there as well.

              cursed b-jobbers

            • Davor says:

              I think that some people are confusing meaning of stats for minor leaguers and major leaguers. If minor league star has excessive strikeouts, it might mean that he has trouble with certain pitches. In majors that will be exposed and he will not be productive. But for the player who has set certain level of production in majors strikeout is just another out (though sudden steep increase in K rate can be worrisome). What I’m more interested in are Swisher’s DP numbers – if he hits in a lot of DP’s, he may be a rally killer. but ih he has average or better DP numbers, his power is enough to more than offset the loss of value of walks compared to singles in bringing runners home.

    • Thomas says:

      Atkins was a below average hitter last year (OPS+ 97) and has a very pronounced home/away split. He’d be worse than A-Rod and probably worse than Swisher.

      Additionally, the Rockies didn’t want to trade him and Holliday. Also, the Rockies wanted a lot from the Twins in a trade (I believe Slowey or Baker). He probably is not a legitimate option.

      • UWS says:

        “Worse than ARod”

        While I agree that Atkins is probably not the solution to any questions we might reasonably ask about our offense, I’m not sure comparing him to ARod, one of the best players of this generation, is a valid way of evaluating him.

        • Mike Pop says:

          I assume he meant defensively.

        • Thomas says:

          I was only comparing him to A-Rod/Swisher, because Atkins would have to play 1st or 3rd (or DH, which I didn’t think of at the time). Thus, Atkins wouldn’t really have a place to play on the team, since he is probably worse than Swisher and obviously worse than Rodriguez.

          You are right though about just randomly comparing someone to A-Rod to see if they are valuable. Sorry about any confusion.

    • Whozat says:

      I think atkins is a poor defender, whose offense is mostly a product of coors

      Also, folks…stop worrying about nl hitters. The lack of a dh and the increased playing time seen by bench guys depresses nl offense, making nl pitchers seem worse when they come to the al. It’s not that all nl players are crap.

  17. Urbina says:

    The Yanks gave over 2000 plate appearances away to guys with an OPS+ of 86 or lower last year. No Yankee team from 1992 through 2007 even came within 450 PA’s of that poor mark. The 1991 team was the last Yankee team to give this many at-bats away. So yeah, I’d say depth is an issue to be concerned about. Or do you suddenly expect Matsui and Posada to each play in 150 games this year and for the CF platoon to definitely work and for Nady to get lucky with babip again and for Cano/Swisher to both rebound?

    • Whozat says:

      Great thing about swish; he provides depth all over. Slot juan Miranda in at 1b, move swish to a corner of spot; Damon can cover cf if need be for a bit.

      • AndrewYF says:

        Who says Juan Miranda is going to post better than an 86+ OPS? He could be the next Morgan Ensberg, for all we know. But at least he has the good side of a platoon split.

  18. Garfunkel says:

    I’d rather have the depth of Adam Dunn’s bat than Juan Miranda at 1B so Swish can play OF.

    • Whozat says:

      Never said I wouldn’t want dunn, but my point that the team is ok depth wise stands

      People want the yanks to get other teams’ starters to sit on our bench, which is just ridiculous. It costs a lot in prospects, and is a poor use of resources

      • Un-Named Yankee Source says:

        Ever give thought of leaving Swisher at 1st. Trade Nady(Braves? for Schaffer or Hernandez or Pitching) then just sign Abreu? Dunn? or even Manny? As it stands right now we are losing Nady/Damon/Matsui next year, we need to staggar the FA now, while the market is flooded or we will be at Boras’ mercy next year.

      • Garfunkel says:

        If you think Nady is a guy who deserves a starting job moreso than a bench role, then you have a clear misconception of his abilities. I am not suggesting the Yankees acquire a deserving starter like Orlando Hudson so that 2B depth is locked down and we have a high-paid guy sitting on the bench. Nady’s presence in the lineup is still something that can clearly be upgrade.

        • Nady is a solidly above average player, both offensively and defensively. The fact that we’re interested in getting an upgrade over his production is simply because we’re the Yankees and we’re so fanatically committed to winning that we can, and have, attempted to have all-stars at every position to increase our chances. But that does not mean that Xavier Nady is “more deserving of a bench role than a starting role”. That’s incorrect.

          Melky Cabrera is more deserving of a bench role than a starters role. Xavier Nady is a fine, solid starter who will produce at a good level for you and not be a drain on a team either offensively or defensively.

          There’s a difference between being interested in upgrading and NEEDING to upgrade a position. Getting someone better than Nady in RF would be a luxury, not a necessity. Getting a starting pitcher better than Sidney Ponson was a necessity.

      • Garfunkel says:

        And the Yankee depth is not ok. Really, what depth do they have? Name an IF in the organization that can hit above replacement level at 2B/SS if Jeter or Cano get hurt? Can Juan Miranda hit enough to be an adequate backup plan if 1B needs some help? Is Melky really the all-purpose backup OF? This is not good depth. The Yankee minor leagues are hurting badly when it comes to major league ready position players, and so naturally, the team depth is inadequate.

        • And the Yankee depth is not ok. Really, what depth do they have? Name an IF in the organization that can hit above replacement level at 2B/SS if Jeter or Cano get hurt?

          Name an IF in the Phillies, Rays, Red Sox, or Dodgers organizations that can hit above replacement level if Utley/Rollins, Iwamura/Bartlett, Pedroia/Lugo, or DeWitt/Furcal get hurt.

          It’s called “replacement level” for a reason. Nobody keeps numerous starting-caliber players littering their bench.

          • Stephen says:

            Phillies- I think Jason (?) Donald is gonna take over until Utley is healthy and he’s so supposed to be really good.
            Red Sox- Jed Lowrie stepped in last year when Lugo sucked.
            Rays have- Reid Brignac I believe. I know he’s not great, but still could be competent.
            Dodgers- DeWitt stepped in last year and was really good for a month before sucking, and the Dodgers also produced Andy LaRoche

            The Yankees haven’t produced any good middle infielders in the last 15 years other than Jeter, Soriano, and Cano. Their depth isn’t good.

          • Garfunkel says:

            Sox have Lowrie and Rays have Aybar, while Phils and Dodgers are lacking depth there. And focusing primarily on SS/2B isn’t the point. The point is to have some reasonable depth in some positions. The Yankees have poor depth at mostly every position for 2009.

            Once again, I am not saying that putting starting-caliber players on the bench is a good idea. But I am saying that putting Nady-caliber players on the bench is a good idea. In case you don’t remember, Nady was a part-time player before joining the lowly Pirates. Just because the Pirates needed him to play everyday doesn’t mean he deserves to.

            The Yankees have an old roster. As such, they need to account for the high likelihood that injuries will strike some of these guys down by having a stronger bench than usual. This is what killed the Yankees offense last year. They completely failed to adequately replace the injured or underperforming players. Why should you expect this year’s team to stay any healthier than last year’s team? You shouldn’t. Unfortunately, there isn’t much the Yankees can do about adding good depth to the IF. But there are clear upgrades to Nady available (Tex, Dunn, Manny, Abreu, Burrell) and the Yankees would improve both their starting lineup potency as well as their bench depth by signing one of those guys and pushing Nady to the bench. Is this even arguable? And some of these guys don’t cost draft picks, like Dunn or Burrell. And the market is poor, so they can be signed cheaper than usual. And the Yankees need to replace Matsui and Nady and Damon after 2009. Signing a guy like Dunn helps the Yankees make progress in solving some of these problems in the short-term and longer-term. Would you prefer that the Yankees just wait until next offseason and spend even more money and draft picks on 2 or 3 free agent outfielders at a much higher AAV than Dunn currently is valued at? That is a bad idea.

            As for this: “It’s called “replacement level” for a reason. Nobody keeps numerous starting-caliber players littering their bench.”

            There is a huge difference between replacement level and starting-caliber players. The better teams will strive to find some bench players who are closer to average than replacement level. You can’t just gladly accept that putting a bench together purposely filled with replacement level players is a good idea. Because it is not.

            • Davor says:

              Nady is average corner outfielder – his projections say he should be around average offensively and around average or slightly above defensively. That kind of player is starter for most teams. If some team has two better corner outfielders, than he is the unlucky one, but he is not what bench player should be – Nady on the bench is luxury and something that can happen only in special circumstances. And all the outfielders that you mentioned are bad defenders, some so bad that as a total package they are worse than Nady.
              Most good bench players are players in their first six years who would be starters, but their team already has above-average players at their positions and they are cheap enough to be on the bench.
              Signing high-priced free agent to upgrade position with average production manned by moderately expensive player is bad use of resources. To upgrade bench, it’s more realistic to try to get someone like Keplar – veteran who might not get full-time offer and who might give you average or slightly below average production (or he might totally lose it).

  19. Joe K. says:

    What about trying to trade for Vernon Wells, Toronto apparently needs to dump salary even in the same division that would be a great pick up for the Yankees Although his salary is going to go through the roof soon:

    “He will receive a salary of just $500,000 in 2008 and $1.5 million in 2009, but his salary jumps to $12.5 million in 2010 and $23 million in 2011. Wells receives $21 million in each of the final three seasons.” (ESPN)

  20. Steve S says:

    The bottom line is that all they really need is a center fielder, which they arguably have, only he is a year or a year and half away. I don’t think Mike Cameron, projections or not is a fit, especially at his salary. I know people have said $10M is market, but I’m sorry, if Abreu is only getting $8M then Mike Cameron even with his defense is not worth $10M. I think if you have a concern over the offense, which isnt necessarily there, then you sign Manny or Tex, and trade one of Swisher, Nady or Damon (I would include Matsui but its not a reality). You can afford to experiment with Gardner and Melky (so long as they catch the ball). Cameron’s contributions with the bat will be greater than Melky or Gardner but thats not saying much.

    I know a lot of people have advocated Dunn, but it seems like Riccardi wasn’t out of line with what he said about him because the market outside of Washington is very scarce for him. And the Yankees seem especially cold on him, not even a mention of his name, outside of No Mass (and contrary to what they think they dont work for the Yankees).

    I think the debate over Manny and Tex is simple, you have the better player in Tex or the better hitter in Manny. I think three years for Manny is fine, anything over that is too much and a bad investment. Texeira isnt worth $23M a year. Its arguable if he is worth $20M but looking at the impending free agents, it seems like he may be best guy who will be available for the next couple of years. Either way I dont think the Yankees lose.

    • Un-Named Yankee Source says:

      Is the real problem the $$ or the length of these contracts? I believe that the years of TEX, will be a killer. Manny for 2 at $25 or even 3 is more appealing. Especially with the outfield situation next year and the impact it will have throughout the lineup. Do pitchers really fear TEX? He makes them tired, but so do alot of other hitters.

      • Steve S says:

        He is a premium player. He plays amazing defense and hits like a premium player. I dont know about fear but I dont know if fear needs to be a criterion. Manny is an all time great and thats why he scares people because he is a freak but he does have draw backs. I agree Tex’s proposed contract is way too long. Six years is the appropriate length.

      • Do pitchers really fear TEX? He makes them tired, but so do alot of other hitters.

        Mark Teixeira is, without question, one of the top 5 hitters in the game today.

        Yes, he’s elite, and yes, they fear him.

        • Mike W. says:

          I usually love everything you write tommie but I am not really feeling this comment about Tex. Is he really one of the top five hitters in the game who pitchers fear? I bet you could come up with an amazing list of hitters that put WAY more fear into pitchers than Tex. I really don’t think Tex is in the top 5 of that list. He really isn’t that scary of a hitter to me (and yes, I know that his stats are great. I am talking about that fear factor of a great hitter).

        • Mike Pop says:

          I disagree that he is one of the top 5 hitters in the game today. A-Rod, Pujols, Manny, Beltran and Vlad are all better. I guess Vlad is more comparable but if Teix is top 5 he just barely makes 5

          • Mike Pop says:

            And if Hamilton keeps on doing what he did this year he is a better hitter than Teix.

            • Mike Pop says:

              I would throw Miggy in as a better hitter and maybe even Braun. Yea, Miguel Cabrera is definitely a more talented hitter than Teix. Teix does not even make the top 5 in my opinion. Top 10 though

          • I disagree that he is one of the top 5 hitters in the game today. A-Rod, Pujols, Manny, Beltran and Vlad are all better. I guess Vlad is more comparable but if Teix is top 5 he just barely makes 5

            ARod = better
            Pujols = better
            Manny = better
            Beltran = maybe a better all around player, with his outstanding CF defense, but not remotely as productive or dangerous of a hitter as Tex. Beltran is a top 20 hitter. Tex is top 5.
            Vlad = better hitter than Tex 4 years ago, when Tex was a baby and Vlad was still legally alive. Now that he’s the Artist Formerly Known as Vlad, this isn’t a fair fight. Tex easily.

            The top 5:
            1. Poo-holes
            2. Manny
            3. ARod
            4t. Lance Berkman
            4t. Mark Teixeira

    • I don’t think Mike Cameron, projections or not is a fit, especially at his salary. I know people have said $10M is market, but I’m sorry, if Abreu is only getting $8M then Mike Cameron even with his defense is not worth $10M.

      A) All recent Cameron scenarios have us either giving them Melky’s 500K salary and Igawa’s 4M salary, or them paying for a portion of the deal. So, it’s not really Cameron at 10M, more like Cameron at like 5.5M.
      B) Cameron has MORE market value than Abreu at the moment, because he gives you decent offensive and defensive production (while Bobby is a glorified DH) he plays CF, something Bobby can’t do (and a position of scarcity), and he’s already locked into a short-term one year deal. If Bobby is really worth 8M, Cameron’s easily worth 10M.

      • Steve S says:

        Tommie, first thats a lot of speculations and assumptions, and the Igawa stuff, thats a Cash pipe dream that the Brewers will take on the Igawa salary. If you get him at that price fine, but its still not a necessity. And you completely missed the whole point. I think if the concern is over the offense, which is what would lead you to get him, then get the better player in Manny or Tex.

        Second, Cameron came on the market last year, when there were no other center fielders on the market, a year younger, a much better economy and this is the contract he managed to get. Im sorry I know its become popular to bash Abreu but while his defense was lacking, its arguable how detrimental it was considering his offensive contributions. And while his OPS and slugging are nice when comparing to other CF’s, his is a fixed commodity, there is no room for improvement, in fact realistically, you would probably project that not only would he decline, he would decline precipitously, especially considering the fact that he is going from a hitter’s park to a pitcher’s park. He is coming into a vastly more difficult league, he hasnt played in the AL in six years. And I know strikeouts arent as negative as people make them out to be, but Im sorry 140 K’s in 444 ABs???? Really??? Thats a lot of strikeouts.

        Third, if his market value were so high, why wouldnt there be five or six other teams looking to get in on him. Its not as if the Brewers are asking for that much, its really a pure salary dump because Melky at this point and Igawa have no real value.

  21. Virginia Yankee says:

    What James can’t predict or catastophe strikes Yankees

    Wang – mechanics flawed from foot injury recovery; ERA rises a full point

    Jeter get to 10%fewer ground Balls

    Jeter injures hand wrist – misses 140 at bats

    Damon / Matsui legs create probelms – miss 300 At bats

    Posada can’t play enough C – offense declines as he broods/impatient to be what he once was

    ARod with no love and no protection in the lineup has the statistically poorest season of his career – fans jeer every at bat

    Failing to get a proven CF – Melky and Gardner both fall short of low expectations

    Swisher is a total bust – another bad cashman deal.

    Cano – is a better than average 2B — on a bad an aging team – so what?

    With a 1-9 lack of production opposing Pitchers challenge hitters with strikes – as did the Tigers in the 2006 playoffs

    Failing to keep Pettit Yankees rely on Hughes Chamberlin and IPK — all three surprise but Mo goes down with several arm ailments – Joba is sent to the pen

    Starting rotation lacks one SP (Joba to pen) and innings to balance Hughes and IPK — Wang is mediocre. Burnett poduces last year’s road stats. Sabbathia is all that is advertized but consistantly matched against the other team #1is undone by Yankee’s lack of offense and defense.

    The curse of Beltran in evident in the 5 season since blowing the opportunity — continued through Santana to Teixeira who sinks into the morass at Baltimore -Washington. e curses Yankees for failing to save him. Beltran – Teixeira Dark Ages get deeper over the New Yankee Stadium.

    Red sox win the division. Tigers and Twinkies beat Yankees for Wild Card

    Somewhere between James and the Apocalypse will come to pass.

    But the curse of Beltran-Teixeira as a metaphor for an abysmal front office is not a joke. Old Ynakees waddle to 2010.

    Light a candle maybe the Front Office will see the light

    • Un-Named Yankee Source says:

      Man, …the Yanks are doomed!

    • Ryan S. says:

      Wow. How much time did you waste writing that?

    • Mike Pop says:

      Negative Nancy in the building over here. By the way, 2 teams can get the wild card.

    • Un-Named Yankee Source says:

      Did someone forget the Rays?

    • jsbrendog says:

      “Swisher is a total bust – another bad cashman deal.”

      seriously? name the other ones. go other bad brian cashman trades.

      cause all i see is :

      Jeff Weaver: but we only gave up ted lilly, everyone else was nothing

      Kevin brown: only gave up weaver, everything else was worthless

      Javy Vasquez: nick johnson and juan rivera

      BUT JAVY became Randy Johnson along with dioneer navarro (this is the only one that i feel kinda sucked because fof dioneer) BUT

      Randy Johnson became ohlendorf and luis vizcaino and vizcaino got us draft picks if i remember correctly and ohlendorf became nady marte.

      sooooooo youre wrong.

      the lidle deal and every other cashman deal is good or great based on what he gave up AND/OR production of the player received inr eturn AND/OR what his “mistake” turned into.

      Out of all that KEVIN BROWN is the only “mistake” he did not turn into something better

  22. Bo says:

    Pass on Cameron and pay Tex the 22 mil a yr.

    The lineup is avg at best and there is nothing in the minors to help out.

    • Un-Named Yankee Source says:

      I would rather give Manny the money for 2-3 years than TEX.

      • Ryan S. says:

        I’d rather take Manny than Tex too, but only if Tex definitely wasn’t going to Boston. If its between us w/ Manny and Boston w/ Tex, or just us w/ Tex, I’d much prefer the latter.

        • Un-Named Yankee Source says:

          Why is TEX that good? What does he do better that SAwisher? BA=Yes, Power=Yes, Everything else is equal. So, which is better? Manny/Swish for 3 years at $35 per or 6 years Tex/Swish at $35 per and then we will still need OF’s next year. Rotating Damon to LF/CF, Rotating Manny LF/DH, Rotating Matsui DH/1B. would be the best solution forget Cameron at $10 mil and players. He is not in the same league as Manny. Plus the most important thing think of what Manny could do against the Sox and in NYC!

          • Ryan S. says:

            Hey like I said, I’d take Manny for 3 years over Tex for 8 in a vacuum. But if us adding Tex to our lineup for 8 years also means removing him from Boston for 8 years, and with them having no shot at Manny, I think there is more benefit to that.

            As for your Swisher argument (and I like Swisher, don’t get me wrong)

            - BA = MUCH better than Swisher
            - Power = Better than swisher
            - 1B defense = Tex is better.
            - And in 2010, Swisher can be one of those OF guys you were talking about – he can play a corner just fine, and even do emergency CF duty if need be. In 2009, Swisher would be a great utility guy and would provide insurance for Matsui and Damon.

            Ideally, Swisher is a 6/7/8 guy in our lineup (though even I have him in the 3 hole myself in our current setup). Tex is a guy you can keep in the 3 hole for the entirety of his contract.

          • Why is TEX that good? What does he do better that SAwisher? BA=Yes, Power=Yes, Everything else is equal.

            You have either never seen Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, or baseball. If you really think that Mark Teixeira is just a slightly better version of Nick Swisher…

            There’s just not words for that.

            • Un-Named Yankee Source says:

              Tex is good…we all agree. Manny is good…we all agree. But do you lock down 1B for 8years vs. sign Manny for 2-3 years and have position flexibility at 1B and OF/DH?

              • Do you know when you need position flexiblility? When your ENTIRE team is old and shitty. We have 5 veterans players under contract beyond 2009: ARod, Jeter, Posada, Swisher, and Cano. That’s it. Of the five of them, one of them will be gone in the next three years (Posada), one of them will probably move to the OF (Jeter), and one of them will likely stay at 3B for a long time (ARod).

                We’re fine. Positional flexibility only becomes an issue if you have multiple poor defending DH-types in their late 30′s at the same time. That won’t be a problem for the duration of the TEx contract, even at 10 years.

  23. ryan says:

    This seems easily possible… people are concentrating too much on how many runs the yanks scored during an injury plagued yr. Any team that loses their starting catcher and DH for the year is gonna take a major Hit in runs scored.

  24. Gary Thorne says:

    Schilling doctored the sock!!! Mirabelli told me!!!

  25. MattG says:

    Based on those projections, the Yankees really need to give Gardner and Melky a chance to hold down center field. The UZR ratings on FanGraphs have Melky as average, and Gardner as quite good. With those offensive contributions, Gardner would be an above average CF, and Melky would be an average one. I am NOT a believer, but when you only need 1 of 2 to be happy, I would take the risk.

    As for the offense, the Yankees only have one sure-fire 3 or 4 hitter on their team. All those calling Swisher a 4th outfielder in this thread are off-base. Unless Nady can suddenly play CF, he’s the man ticketed for the bench vs RHP. It’s true the Yankees have lots of nice plus bats in the lineup, but they need another legitimate power threat. While Adam Dunn, and his left-handed power swing is sitting there, looking for a deal that is merely “fair,” the Yankees are dicking around with two players they don’t really want. The Yankees lineup, with Dunn and Cabrera, would feature 3 switch hitters, 3 lefties, 2 righties and a platoon (Matsui/Nady). He would need 3 years, $48 mil, give or take. You can get the first $10 mil from that ingrate, Andy Pettitte (the 5th spot will be fine with Hughes/Kennedy/Aceves & Coke). What, is it too obvious?

    • Ryan S. says:

      I think Nady plays RF this year or gets traded, I don’t see him being platooned.

      I’d be happy getting Adam Dunn, but no need to avoid signing Andy to do it as we can afford both. Andy would be an important part of the rotation as our #4 starter – he’s a major-league average, left handed pitcher who is good for 200 innings. That’s valuable, and it gives kids some more time to develop (Hughes could use a full season in AAA), and we already have a high ceiling prospect with an innings limit in the rotation, while Aceves becomes our longman.

      • Un-Named Yankee Source says:

        Nady to the Braves or Reds for position prospects?

      • MattG says:

        I think giving Andy Pettitte $10 mil is an overreaction to what happened to the Yankees in 2008 (and 2007). One more arm would be fine, but Andy posted a 98 OPS+ last year, and I don’t see it getting much better. I also do not see him as a guaranteed 200 innings–the way he ended the year, he’s be as likely to blow out an elbow as anyone on the Yankees’ staff.

        In order of preference, I’d like the #4 hitter before the #5 starter, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try and get them both done. Also, if Brian Fuentes would take $18 mil over 3 years to pitch here, I’d put Coke in the 5th spot in a second.

        • Ryan S. says:

          No doubt that a hitter in the 4 hole has more value than your #4 starter (remember, Joba is our #5), but we can do both is what I’m saying. Its not one or the other AT ALL.

          As for Coke umm … pretty sure he’d need a significant amount of time to develop into a major league ready starter. It’d be off to the farm for the boy this year if we got Fuentes. Not a bad idea really, but Hughes/IPK/Aceves/Chase Wright are the guys who would contend for that last rotation sot.

          • MattG says:

            Yeah–Coke would be my last choice (not including Wright) in that list–which was kind of my point. So, this is boring, we are now saying the same thing.

            There are two guys out there that might be called bargains: Dunn and Fuentes. Dunn actually fills a big need. What’s the problem?

            • Mike Pop says:

              Fuentes going to Angels for 3 years 30 mill or so.

            • Ryan S. says:

              No problem getting Dunn, I’m all for it. I just would rather get Tex or Manny instead…but (for me), Dunn is a fantastic Plan C.

              • MattG says:

                OK, this is better, because I can disagree with this. Dunn is my plan A, because:

                1. I want to put Nady on the bench, not Swisher, Damon or Matsui. To do this, I need a guy who can play first base or right field. That leaves Ramirez out.

                2. I do not believe in giving a non-Pujols 1B an 8 year commitment. As good as Teixeira is, his price is out of whack.

                • Ryan S. says:

                  LOL at your opening comment.

                  For me, Ramirez provides too much offense to turn down. I’d be happy to shakeup the lineup to make room for him.

                  Agreed, 8 years is a lot, but Teixeira should be a quality player throughout the duration of his contract, which would take him through his age 36 playing year. Also, we could use the golden glove defense at 1B, though. Agreed, his price is out of whack, but so what? We can afford to pay a premium; its not like we’re the Blue Jays here. So long as we can crunch the #s to make this year’s payroll acceptable w/ Tex in the lineup, we’ll be fine money-wise. Tex is built a lot closer to A-Rod than he is Giambi, I like his outlook at staying healthy and productive, barring any unforeseen accidents.

                • MattG says:

                  Teixeira is plan B, and I see your point, so maybe I will go along with you and make Teixeira and Dunn A1 and A2.

                  But Ramirez is plan C, and it has nothing to do with the perceived personality problem. I posted this somewhere else, but I’ll repeat it: if Manny were to get 600 at bats, those at bats will be taken away from Nady and Matsui. Manny’s 2007 season looks an awful lot like a typical Matsui year. Do you think it’s possible Manny might not outhit Matsui by all that much in 2009? How about Manny outhitting a Matsui/Nady platoon (Nady has always crushed lefties)? How about Manny playing 81 games in Yankee stadium, as opposed to 81 games in Fenway, and outhitting a Nady/Matsui platoon? If Manny does his usual 150 OPS+ type thing, Nady/Matsui can’t touch him. But, if age, ballpark factors, and complacency all conspire to drag Manny down into the 135 OPS+ range, that’s starting to look like something Matsui and Nady can do themselves.

                  Now, factor in that Matsui, Damon and Nady are all expiring contracts. You would still rather have Ramirez locked up for 3 years over Dunn?

                • Do you think it’s possible Manny might not outhit Matsui by all that much in 2009?

                  No, not at all. The only way Manny doesn’t dramatically outhit Matsui in 2009 is if Manny is hit by a truck of some sort.

  26. Un-Named Yankee Source says:

    How would Manny be in RF? Has he always been a LF? How is his arm? Or is the ‘Big Donkey’ a better option?

    • Ryan S. says:

      I’m totally guessing here, but people may want to use Manny in RF instead of LF because of the way the stadium is designed. LF is actually a lot bigger than RF. Could Manny actually be an UPGRADE over Abreu? Wouldn’t that be hilarious.

      • Mike Pop says:

        And brings twice the offense.

        • Ryan S. says:

          Also, for all the BS fear about Manny’s negative intangibles, what about the guy’s positive intangibles? Like, oh, I dunno … making pitchers shit themselves whenever he’s at the plate? And is there ANY other hitter in the game besides Albert Pujols who could protect A-Rod? I know sabermetrics types (and I’m one too kinda) hate the term “protection”, but god dammit, A-Rod would see more pitches in the strike zone, its a fact. Maybe you can’t quantify it or measure it, but Rodriguez would be pitched to more favorably with freakin Ramirez behind him.

          Back to my point about intimidation … how would you feel if you had to face Jeter-Rodriguez-Ramirez in a single inning? Even Beckett might feel a turtle head poke out.

    • Davor says:

      I think he used to be RF in Cleveland and his arm is at least solid. Also, defense metrics usually do a poor job calculating Green Monster, so his D probably isn’t Bernie – atrocious, but merely bad (like Dunn, Burrell, Abreu, maybe even a bit better than them).

  27. Bill says:

    With optimistic projections that don’t really factor in potential injuries the Yankees are less than a run better than last year when their offense definitely struggled to produce. Factor in injuries and dissapointments and that spells that we need another big bat in the middle of our order (i.e. Teixeira or Manny- preferably Tex).

  28. [...] already taken a look at the rotation and the lineup, so let’s jump right in and see what Bill James’ projects for the Yanks’ bullpen. [...]

  29. [...] for various parts of the Yanks’ squad, starting with the rotation. Next I jumped to the lineup, and then last week I sorted out the bullpen. Now it’s time to wrap up this little series of [...]

Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.