The late 90s Yankees were blessed with incredible talent in up-the-middle positions. Those teams are a testament to the strategy of developing pitching and up the middle players, and using trades and free agency to fill in the other positions. It’s just not easy to find players like Jorge, Jeter, and Bernie on the free agent market, or even in a trade from another team.
Part of the reason the Yankees succeeded in 2009 was that they had excellent talent up the middle. Jorge Posada is one of the best hitting catchers in the league. Jeter is near the top, if not at the top, for shortstops. Cano is one of the better hitting second basemen, and Melky Cabrera hits league average, which is above average for center fielders. The Yanks appear ready to reload, too, as their two top prospects are a catcher and a center fielder.
Over at Baseball Prospectus, friend of RAB Tommy Bennett looks at the up the middle free agents. As expected, the class isn’t all that inspiring. Thankfully, the Yankees have a superior player at every position except maybe center field (Mike Cameron), but even in that case they have a young player who has shown promise. He’s easily an acceptable alternative to Cameron.
Unfortunately, the article is subscriber-only. This is Tommy’s takeaway line, with which I fully agree. “The lesson to be drawn is that if you’re looking to add more than one of these players on the open market, you might want to take seriously the possibility that you’re not going to be competitive this year.” This is true in most years, and 2009 is no exception.
That said, this is your open thread for the evening. Treat it well.