Dec
09

Extreme Makeover: Yankees edition

By

Of all the Yankee teams since 1996, the 2008 edition is one we would all most like to forget. For the first time since the pre-strike days of 1993, the team missed the playoffs, and they do so in a spectacularly unmemorable fashion with 13 starting pitchers and Darrel Rasner as their de facto third starter.

That year, the Yanks’ biggest issues went hand in hand. They were an old team, and they suffered through far too many injuries. Behind Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte (36) and Mike Mussina (39) were expected to anchor the pitching rotation. Around the diamond, Jorge Posada (36) would have manned the plate with Jason Giambi (37) at first, Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu, a pair of 34-year-olds at the corner outfield positions, and Hideki Matsui (34) as the DH. After Posada and Matsui went down with injuries and the pitching turned sour, the team limped to an 89-73 finish.

Since then, we have witnessed a veritable age movement in the Bronx, and come Opening Day 2010, the Yanks’ roster will look nothing similar to the 2008 edition. Of course, the roster will still have its fair share of old men. Derek Jeter will be playing his age 36(!) season and Posada his age 37. A-Rod will turn 35 in late July; Mariano Rivera will be an ageless 40; and Andy Pettitte 38. But that’s it.

With the arrival of Curtis Granderson, the Yankees have become a team more focused on youth and athleticism than any Yankee team in recent years. Around the infield, we’ll see Mark Teixeira (30) and Robinson Cano (26). Nick Swisher (29), Granderson (29) and, as it stands right now, Melky Cabrera (25) will star in the under-30 outfield club. Even if the Yanks do something crazy — such as sign Matt Holliday as iYankees urges them to do — they would be bringing about a 30-year-old. We can’t forget that the Yanks’ Opening Day starter will be playing his age 29 season and that two other potential cogs in the rotation or bullpen will both be playing their age 24 seasons.

Thus, in the space of just two years, Brian Cashman has won a World Series and reestablished the Yankees as a team eying long-term dominance. This isn’t the one-and-done teams from the mid-2000s that seemed to be reliable on aging sluggers and weak pitchers. This is a deal that, if all the pieces fit properly, could make a good run of it over the next three or fours years.

More impressive though are the costs. To put this team together cost the Yankees a pretty penny in dollars and nearly nothing in prospects. Melky Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain are products of the farm system. Nick Swisher came from Chicago in exchange for Wilson Betemit, Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nuñez. Sabathia and Teixeira were free agents, and for Curtis Granderson, they had to give up Austin Jackson and Ian Kennedy.

To build a better club, to become younger and more versatile, the Yankees did not have to sacrifice two thirds of the Big Three. They kept the two guys with the best stuff, and the two guys with the highest ceilings. They still have a farm system with a few live arms, a few intriguing outfielders and a catcher carrying lofty expectations and a very big bat. That, my friends, is one extreme baseball makeover in very little time. It’s why Brian Cashman has been holding court in his hotel room in Indianapolis, and it’s why the Yankees probably aren’t quite through yet with their off-season plans.

Categories : Musings
  • vietnam vet

    What to make of this:
    “From Buster Olney: If the Yankees sign Johnny Damon, that will increase the likelihood that they will attempt to trade Nick Swisher. It’s increasingly unlikely that the Yankees are going to re-sign Hideki Matsui, regardless of what happens with Damon.”

    • MattG

      Its not the M.O. anymore. 0% chance that happens.

    • A.D.

      I don’t really understand why this is true, since I doubt the Yanks feel the need to make sure Melky has a starting spot in one of the corner OF positions.

    • http://phabfour.blogspot.com/ Double-J

      Why would they dump Swisher either way, with his OBP numbers? Doesn’t make any sense at all. I’d say Gardner is the odd-man out of the outfield if they sign Damon/Cameron/etc.

  • Bo

    It’s amazing what focusing on adding elite talent to the farm system does for an organization.

    The sad part is this should never have been neglected for so long. Not with the revenue streams the Yankees have.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      It’s amazing what focusing on adding elite talent to the farm system does for an organization.

      The sad part is this should never have been neglected for so long.

      Were we really “neglecting” or “not focusing” on adding elite talent to the farm system?

      Or, did we just have some picks that didn’t pan out? Guys like C.J. Henry, Estee Harris, Jeff Marquez, Bronson Sardhina, John-Ford Griffin, Drew Henson, or your favorite whipping boy, Eric Duncan, these were all high-upside potential “elite talent” guys who just busted.

      It happens.

      • A.D.

        Yeah, i think before they neglected using financial muscle to get signability guys in the later rounds, seems to be more recent. Then on top of that they had some bad luck with consensus top talents guys not panning out.

        With the set-up now, a top pick can bust, and they’re going to be okay because they’re getting early round talents in the later rounds by using financial muscle.

      • Steve H

        And you can take Marquez out of that. He worked out exactly like A-Jax did, by getting a young, good, proven MLB player. Did he peak? No. Did he work out for the Yankees? Damn straight.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          Good point.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

    Extreme Makeover: Yankees edition

    MOVE THAT JANUZ!
    MOVE THAT JANUZ!

  • Rob

    Couldn’t agree more, Ben. This is truly scary organization when the farm is productive and the front office uses those resources wisely.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      - Total domination.
      – Fugghedaboutit.

      • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

        Hey, I’m wicked syked to be heah. Are you guys ready to sell some cahhs?

        • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

          Damn, it was “rent some cahhs”.

          FAIL.

          • Mike

            success.

    • Reggie C.

      Lets hope the farm remains productive.

      Austin Jackson’s gradual progression into a projectable solid regular let this trade happen on the Tigers’s end. Hopefully Heathcott, DeAngelo Mack, and Neil Medchill represent a new crop of intriguing hitting/power talent.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        DeAngelo Mack

        With AJax gone, he instantly became my new favorite minor-league mancrush.

        TEH POWER!!!

        • king of fruitless hypotheticals

          yeah but Slade Heathcott…that’s one fine name right there…

  • larryf

    Thinking about the Yankee coaching staff and maximizing GrandPerson’s potential. How about bringing in Ricky Henderson (or someone else) as a basestealing coach in spring training? Grandy and 50SB’s? Sounds good….

    • Steve H

      Not if he’s hitting in the 2 hole. If he’s on base, A-Rod and Tex can drive him in without giving up outs by attempting steals.

      • larryf

        only with a homer (usually). Putting the pressure on the pitcher will give A-rod and Tex better pitches to hit. They get lots of off speed stuff now but not as much if Granderson is running alot. More fastballs to Tex and Arod is good for their stats!!

  • SM

    Nearly nothing is a strech, they also gave up Tabata and comp picks.

  • Meat Loaf

    The days of Sidney Ponson (!), Darrell Rasner (!!), Dan Geise (!!!) in our rotation while Morgan Ensberg (!!!!), Richie Sexson (!!!!!) and Chris Steward (?) roamed the field are long behind us.

    Oddly enough, I think I stopped contemplating suicidie the day those guys left the roster.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      …while Morgan Ensberg (!!!!), Richie Sexson (!!!!!) and Chris Steward (?) roamed the field…

      I believe it’s Chris Stewart, not Chris Steward.

      But hey, buddy, two out of three ain’t bad, right?

      • DP

        And Giese, not Geise.

      • Meat Loaf

        I was up all night working on an American Literature essay, which is now 17 pages of filth. My brain is largely melting and I smell of sex panther. Please, for the love of God, cut me some slack.

      • Meat Loaf

        And I just caught your Meat Loaf reference (told you it was a long night). And I love you for it.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          That’s the only reason I wrote it, baby!!!!

          I want you (i want you)
          I need you (i need you)
          But there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you
          But don’t be sad (don’t be sad)
          ‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad…

          • Meat Loaf

            I will now be listening to Meat Loaf for the next hour when I should be working on my lesson plan for my middle school education class. If I fail it will soley rest on your shoulders, TSJC. Thank you.

          • ColoYank

            Oh, the math! Oh, the cruelty!

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              Heh.

  • Chip

    Also, keep in mind that they have guys like McAllister, Nova, Aceves and Gaudin who would all at least be seriously considered for the back end of a rotation on most teams.

  • http://Youcan'tincreaseyourrange TLVP

    8 more years of A-Rod and 1B blocked by Teix for 7 of those years is probably the biggest concern right now

    The biggest risk to the makeover is how they chose to deal with Mo and Derek next year. Its all fine to let Matsui, Damon, Pettitte or even Posada walk when their time comes, but Mo and Derek? The two most iconic players in baseball over the last 15 years? If they perform well in 2010 the FO will have two big headaches.

    • AndrewYF

      I’m pretty sure the Yankees don’t mind 1B being ‘blocked’ by a 29 year old who just put up a 149 OPS+.

      • Mattingly’s Love Child

        But Teix is a choker who couldn’t get the big hit this fall! He’s lucky ARod was there to pick his ass up!

        • MatyRuggz

          So was Tino Martinez, at least in his first postseasion. Don’t forget A-Fraud before this past postseason.

          /small sample sized

          • Mattingly’s Love Child

            Turn your sarcasm meter up. :)

  • steve s

    As good as it looks today the “age” issue is still the one that can derail the Yanks more than any other. As much as we would like to think that Mo, Posada, Jeter and Pettitte (once signed) and even Arod (with his hip issue and perhaps years of potential PED abuse still yet to physically surface) cannot all suffer rapid declines what if 2 or 3 do? The same way adding 3 prime players last year shot the Yanks back to the top, a precipitous loss of 2 to 3 prime performances may push the Yanks back to the pack in a blink of the eye.

    • Mattingly’s Love Child

      steve s = wet blanket

      • Megatron

        Wow….back off the ledge. We just won the WS, and upgraded CF.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        Why you gotta bring up old shit?

        /Smokey’d

    • Mattingly’s Love Child

      Ben had me feeling all warm and fuzzy, my confidence in the Yankees was up from an 8 on Monday to a 10….and then you had to bring me back to reality!

      • steve s

        Sorry, but I still remember all too well what happened to the 1965 Yanks. Seemingly overnight the superstars were no longer so super!

        • Mattingly’s Love Child

          I do too, oh wait, no I don’t, I wasn’t a twinkle in my father’s eye yet.

          But I get your point. And it’s a good one. That’s why I wasn’t a strong advocate for Matsui AND Damon coming back. Especially Matsui. Now that he’s down to one skill, what happens when the music stops…

  • paul

    Mo and Jete will be back for sure…Tex at 1b for 7 years is fine…Arod is a concern in 3-4 years…
    AJAX-they did some good marketing there–cause c grand is a great pickup…
    IK and coke are replaceable…
    Matsui-1 more year
    Damon maybe 2 more
    Posada will finish this contract and be done…
    Our minor leagues have a lot of quality players to use and move around…
    B cash has done a phenom job!!!

  • theyankeewarrior

    With LF and DH open, I think it’s safe to say the Yankees will bring back one of Damon or Matsui. Granderson gives them some decent leverage there on top of the fact that the marketplace is down and they are aging.

    It’s my opinion that the Yanks need to “fill out” the lineup if you will. Aka they should have a true DH and at least try to get an everyday LF that isn’t named Melky Cabrera unless they are actually strapped for cash.. which we know isn’t true.

    From this pool, they need 2 players:

    Damon
    Matsui
    Cameron
    Johnson

    Dye
    Vlad
    (Other aging DH types that may end up only getting ’09 Abreu money)

    This gives them lineup depth incase of injury.

    Pitching is easier to figure out. I think we all agree it’s Pettitte and then a blind guess at one of these…

    Sheets
    Harden
    Deucheserererererserucherer
    Bedard

    A solid “8th inning guy” that doesn’t cost us pick #32

    Think I’m close?

    • Megatron

      I’ll take Damon in LF, Pettitte and Sheets, and no new bullpen arms. We’ll figure that out from the minors.

      The majority of the time Damon is DH, but Melky can spell anyone in the OF, moving them to DH for a day. Use Pena to do the same in the IF.

      • Rose

        Rather have Matsui at DH and Melky or Cameron in LF.

        I’m perfectly fine with telling Johnny Damon to take it easy.

        • jackson

          Kelvim Escobar or Ben Sheets would be a major pickup in my book. I don’t know if NY would be the best place for Duke, even if he doesn’t have a ton of pressure on him.

    • DCBX

      I think Robertson will have the 8th locked by the All-Star break. Assuming that $200M is a “soft” ceiling, I’d go with Matsui, Thome, Sheets.

  • http://www.kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

    If Mariano Rivera is God, then Cashman is… the other God?

    He’s been great. All those poor signings in the early 00s were all Steinbrenner. Cashman knows what he’s doing. That’s why when he does something like say, I don’t know, trade Austin Jackson and Ian Kennedy for Curtis Granderson, you understand that it’s a great move for the Yankees. Cashman knows more about the Yankees than any of us do and has gotten us some great players for cheap over the past few years.

    • http://pinstripepalace.blogspot.com/ Brien Jackson

      “If Mariano Rivera is God, then Cashman is… ”

      The Holy Spirit of Mo?

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        Mo: the father
        Jesus H. Montero: the son
        Melvin Croussett: the holy ghost

        • Rose

          Mother Mary: Nick Swisher (on Mother’s Day)

    • ColoYank

      Can you see the statues of Cahsman in the temples? Me neither. He’s not really made of statue-model stuff, is he?

  • Jake K.

    This is why I can’t see Cash Money trading for Halladay. Not just because of his age, but because it would leave our farm system depleted and rob the organization of the balance he’s achieved.

  • ortforshort

    Let’s see – with the abssolute boatload of money the Yankees have, their fourth and fifth starters the last several years have been Shawn Chacon, Aaron Small, Jeff Karstens, Darrell Rasner, Sidney Ponson, Sergio Mitre, Chad Gaudin, etc. They bought their starting rotation last year – for a fortune. Cashman nickle and dimed Pettitte all last winter and should have lost him. God did this? No wonder the earth is about to collapse.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      ::facepalm::

    • Mike HC

      “They bought their starting rotation last year”

      Yea, it is called free agency. It has been around for a while now. Maybe you should read up about it. It actually allows players to switch teams after their original contracts expire. Novel idea.

      • Rose

        ortforshort, seems to be short of something else…and it’s not just his common sense [punchline drumroll]

  • Mike HC

    It could be argued that the 2004 team is the one most fans want to forget.

    In retrospect, that 2008 team was the lull before the storm.

  • Halladay

    Montero and Hughes for Halladay. That would make for a merry X-MAS.

    If you don’t have to give up one or the other even better, but Halladay is worth it.

    • Rose

      Nah.

    • Steve H

      No. No. No. No.

      And………….No.

    • All Praise Be To Mo

      Halladay a couple years ago yes, as a 32/33 year old a year away from free agency, no way.

  • Rose

    Any chance you try to grab Boof Bonser and throw him in AAA for a little bit? Or do you think he’s going to look for a place to start…

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      What’s to like about him? The 5.12 career ERA? The 1.5 WHIP? He was just DFA’d for Carl Pavano. That speaks volumes about the guy.

      • Steve H

        His name is Boof though.

      • Rose

        Oh, so he has a better career starting ERA than Phil Hughes?

        Interesting…

        • andrew

          But is 3 years older and much closer to his peak than Hughes is?

          interesting…

          • Rose

            Yeah, when he was Hughes age he had better numbers and similar IP. I’m not saying he’s better than Hughes…my point was that you can’t always go by what you see. Other people could see Hughes’ numbers and say the same thing. Bonser could very well be terrible forever though…you don’t know. Just like you don’t know how good Hughes might be either I guess.

            • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

              His stuff sucks also. I can’t believe we’d even consider a pitcher with no track record of success at the MLB. We’re not the Theo Epstein Crappy Pitcher Reclamation Project here.

  • Steve H

    Jayson Stark on the Yankees makeover:

    So out the door went 22-year-old outfield stud Austin Jackson, widely viewed as either the Yankees’ No. 1 or No. 2 prospect. And out that door, right along with him, went their most dependable left-handed reliever last year, Phil Coke. And the third guy on that exit ramp was pitcher Ian Kennedy, a guy the Yankees once balked at trading for Johan Santana.

    Is he on drugs with his IPK and A-Jax as possibly #1 prospect comments?

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      I saw that. The idea that Phil Coke is “dependable” is pretty laughable also. He threw 4 percent of the Yankees’ innings last year and wasn’t all that great.

      • All Praise Be To Mo

        Jayson Stark would have something bad to say about us if we traded Eric Duncan and Melky for Roy Halladay “Melky could be the next Griffey, and Duncan was starting to show signs of breaking through”

        /Stark’d

      • andrew

        He never said Coke pitched well, he merely said that he was their most dependable left handed reliever. I think it’s hard for anyone to argue with that. I can’t think of any lefties in the ‘pen who were better.

    • Jordan

      The short answer to this is, yes. Not conventional drugs though. Just huffing Rogaine.

    • ROBTEN

      Equally upsetting are Stark’s mixed metaphors…Are the Yankees a building or a car? Are Jackson, Coke, and Kennedy heading out the door or getting off the freeway?

      How can I be expected to irrationally respond to what the Yankees have done if I don’t understand where I am?!?

      • Steve H

        I didn’t even finish the article.

  • Pingback: Cashman putting the pressure on Damon, Boras | River Avenue Blues