Talking Yankees baseball with The Times

AL East Preview: Baltimore Orioles
Open Thread: Recapping the season preview

For the second year in a row, Justin Sablich of The New York Times invited me to participate in a blogger roundtable previewing the Yanks’ upcoming 2010 campaign. He emailed me, Cliff Corcoran from Bronx Banter and Steve Lombardi from Was Watching a series of questions, and we happily obliged him with answers. The first part is available right here on the Bats blog. In it, we talk about the moves the Yankees didn’t make this winter, the team’s outfield situation, the Great Joba Debate and the aging Yankees’ health concerns. Check it out. Part Two drops tomorrow.

Update 6:10 p.m.: I forgot to mention this originally, but there’s still time. I’ll be on Blog Talk Radio’s Flushing to the Bronx at 6:15 for a 15-minute chat about the Yankees’ upcoming season. You can listen live right here.

AL East Preview: Baltimore Orioles
Open Thread: Recapping the season preview
  • dkidd

    if johnson goes down like so many are predicting (with reason), i’ll bet carlos delgado would enjoy hitting in ys3

    • Benjamin Kabak

      He had hip surgery a few weeks ago and probably won’t be ready to play until July at the earliest. Here’s that news.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

        Oh. Well then…

        If johnson goes down like so many are predicting (with reason), I’ll bet carlos delgado Jermaine Dye or Elijah Dukes would enjoy hitting in YS3.


        • CS Yankee

          My guess would be either JM or JM
          (Juan Miranda or Jesus Montero)

          Yankees already have a couple of broke dicks (Thames & Winn) that they choose over Dye & Dukes.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

            Yes, but they chose those small acquisitions (Thames and Winn) over the bigger but riskier acquisitions (Dye and Dukes) with a healthy Nick Johnson. If he’s not healthy, maybe the calculus changes.

            Maybe. That’s all I’m saying.

            • CS Yankee

              Decent counterpoint…

              If I understand you correctly, the calculus might change due to the need to replace a proven MLB bat.

              However, I would maintain that if you might gamble on a backup (Dukes/Dye) to add value but feel that if you already made the Winn/Thames over the D/D decision.

              In math, “X” (W/T) was greater than “Y” (D/D) and will maintain so regardless of if “W” (NJ) goes down…now, bring in “Z” (the kids) or “W” (trade) and we can compute.

              Plus, Dukes is cancer and Dye is unsigned (didn’t he turn down a few offers/) and that may tell another story in itself.

        • Lanny

          You really got to get it out of your head about Dukes.

      • dkidd

        my thinking is johnson has a great first half, suffers a freak accident in the all-star game, delgado takes over in july

    • Tom Zig

      Carlos Delgado played for the Mets, so no thanks.

      • bexarama

        does this mean we’re never getting Tom Seaver :(

  • JobaWockeeZ

    Steve Lombardi: My answer to both these questions is connected. Coming into the 2010 season, I felt the Yankees’ biggest need was to get a No. 2 starter to follow C.C. Sabathia in the rotation — pushing A.J. Burnett into the third slot and Andy Pettitte into the forth slot. Instead, Brian Cashman went out and got Vazquez. As good as he was last season, Vazquez is not a No. 2 starter in the American League East. So, in my opinion, the Yankees will now have an “ace” this season (Sabathia) followed by three pitchers who are more like a No. 3 or No. 4 starter. And, that might not be enough to keep up with Boston’s and Tampa Bay’s rotations.

    So many things wrong with this. The second best starter on the staff would be Javier or at least close to it. He was always a good pitcher it’s just that he was on teams with horrendous defenses that hurt his ERA. With this team I do not believe he’ll have a problem. He won’t be 2009 good but he won’t be pitching like he was hurt in 2004.

    And honestly this rotation can’t keep up with Bostons? There is no chance all 5 of those starters will remain healthy. Their depth is suspect at best. Beckett and Lester should be fine. Lackey is a concern. Dice-BB is a concern. Wakefield is a concern. And Buchholz never pitched a full season in the majors.

    The Yanks have at least 2 horse sin CC and Vazquez. Burnett seems like he is staying healthy. Pettitte always pitches a lot despite his age but he is somewhat of a concern. And we don’t know what to expect from Hughes.

    And it’s funny why do the Yanks NEED to get a number 2 starter when they lacked one for the entire year last year?

    • bexarama

      I was thinking this the other day: who would a true #2 in the AL East be, anyway?

      • Poopy Pants

        Beckett is a huge #2. Get it?

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

      Steve should probably bring in someone to help him create better analysis of the Yankees.

      Then again, did DaVinci bring in help to paint the Sistine Chapel?

      • RichYF


        Nice. You’re like an elephant, you.

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

          You’re like an elephant, you.


    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

      Oh, and, pssssst, Steve:


    • Lanny

      I think Burnett did pretty solid as a #2 last yr in helping win a WS and pitch prob the most important game of the yr in Game 2 of the WS.

      • JobaWockeeZ

        Oh he did. But according to Lombardi he isn’t. Nor is Javy. If you want better than that for a number 2 Lombardi then it’s probably that are LEGIT NUMBER ONES.

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

          We should have just traded Wordekemper and Fortenberry for Felix Hernandez when we had the chance.

          Actually, though, scratch that. Felix has never pitched in the AL East, so he can’t be an AL East ace. We should have traded Jesus Montero, Austin Jackson, Austin Romine, Slade Heathcott, Jose Ramirez, Arodys Vizcaino, Andrew Brackman, and Mark Teixeira to the Red Sox for Josh Beckett.

          Your mind: BLOWN.

    • CS Yankee

      Yanks have the best starters easily

      We have the only ace (CC) when compared against the Sox…

      Lester = #2
      Becket = #2
      Lackey = #3
      Dice-BB = solid injury reserve #4
      Buch = unproven #5
      Wake = solid mop boy

      CC = #1
      AJ = #2
      Andy = #3
      Javy = #3
      Hughes = unproven #5

      We have them beat everywhere except if you only take 3 pitchers!

      • JobaWockeeZ

        I’d put Lester in the ace category.

        • bexarama


          Pettitte’s probably a really good #4 at this point, unless he goes crazy in a way no one’s really expecting (plz make his Bill James predictions come true). Javy I can see being anywhere from a very good #4 to having flashes of a #1.

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

          Seconded, Lester is legit.

          141 ERA+ and 11.3 WAR the past two years, and he just turned 26 in January. Lester is the balls.

        • dkidd


          lester: #1
          beckett: #2
          lackey: #2
          dice-k: #3
          wake: #5
          laptop: who knows?

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

            At this point, March 31, 2010, Buchholz has to be considered a better starting pitcher than both Wakefield and Matsuzaka. By far.

            Wake is old and ineffective, Dice-K is out of shape/injured and ineffective. Buchholz is a very good young starter and is easily the 4th best pitcher they have.

            • dkidd

              i actually like buchholz (i love how much he looks like a meth addict) but isn’t it fair to say that he and phil hughes are equally unproven?

              • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

                He’s a little more proven than Phil. Not much, but a little.

                The end of this 2009 season starting games for the big club was pretty solid, IMO. He’s got something to build on.

                • dkidd

                  i guess i don’t see a huge difference between buchholz: 2009 and hughes: 2007

                  in terms of the fun but pointless rotation comparison (aj =3, lackey =2 etc) neither can be assigned a number yet

                • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

                  i guess i don’t see a huge difference between buchholz: 2009 and hughes: 2007

                  Here’s the difference:

                  Two years of age and seasoning.

        • CS Yankee

          My reasoning is that…

          1) To me, a #1 is an Ace and I view that the game only has but 10-15 total.

          2) At the same point in his career his numbers are very similar to Pettite’s. Andy (as we all love him) was never the Yanklees/Astros ace, but rather the solid #2/3 starter.

          3) I’m making a distinction between him and CC. AJ & Lester are equals in talent but inferrior to CC/Doc/King Felix/Justin/Johan/Zach/etc.

          Lester is very good, solid and can accept him as a #1, but not really CC type #1.


          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

            But, again, compare Lester’s last two years to any two years of CC/Doc/Felix/Verlander/Johan/etc.

            A 141 ERA+ and 11 WAR is pimptastic.

            • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

              Oh, and he’s pitching in one of the three best hitter’s parks in baseball, to boot.

            • CS Yankee

              I didn’t read/know about those numbers…that is pimptastic.

              (moves Lester up to the top shelf as Webb falls down but not off top shelf.)

          • bexarama

            Looking at their stats through age 25, I was kinda shocked how similar Pettitte and Lester were. Still, Lester had a not-great 2006 and 2007, which weighs him down. He clearly stepped it up a notch in 2008 and especially 2009. Andy never put up K numbers like Lester did last year. Lester is at worst ace-like right now, kinda like Pettitte around 1997 just better IMO.

            • CS Yankee

     Lester pitched to the score!

              /Boston media’d

              • bexarama

                Heh. Also, just to defend my boy, Pettitte was definitely an ace in 2005. Problem is, they kinda had two other aces on his own team.

                But throughout his career, I agree, Petty’s not an ace.

  • nz

    Jesus, is there a bigger pessimist than Lombardi?

    • bexarama

      No. No, there is not.

      (Maybe that Brazilian Yankee guy.)

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

        Lombardi is like Droopy on barbiturates.

  • JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

    Did you guys meet at the Sistine Chapel?

    • JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

      I see I’m late with my joke. Damnit.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

        Me >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> you

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size


    On a smaller scale, I thought they should have brought either Damon or Hideki Matsui back on a one-year deal (which is all either got elsewhere) to be the designated hitter. I’m very pessimistic about Johnson. I don’t believe he’ll stay healthy, and even if he does, I’m not confident in his ability to hit for power.

    We didn’t acquire him to hit for power, though, we acquired him to replace what Johnny Damon did, which is A.) get on base a pantsload and B.) hit the occasional rightfield homer.

    Do I have confidence in Nick’s ability to do those two things? Yes, I do. Do I have more confidence in his ability to do those two things than I do in Johnny Damon’s ability to do those two things? Yes, I also do. Johnny’s old. Nick, less so.

    In fact, looking at all factors in total, on the questions of:

    A.) Who will stay the healthiest and play the most?
    Damon = Johnson >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Matsui

    B.) Who will get on base the most?
    Johnson >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Damon >> Matsui

    C.) Who will hit for the most power?
    Matsui > Damon = Johnson

    I don’t see how, in totality, you don’t pick Johnson over the other two. Youth, reverse splits, far better OBP/contact skills, cheaper price.

    • Lanny

      Younger is relative in that hes 31 and always hurt. Cheaper price is also relative being that hes being paid 5 mil and Matsui is 6 and Damon is 8. All 1 yr deals.

      And don’t make it seem like those 2 don’t have good OBP’s and are elite hitters.

      NJ is solid but hes not a huge upgrade over Matsui and Damon.

      What they should have done was sign NJ and also sign Damon but you take your chances in some parts of your 25 man.

  • bexarama

    Also some of the comments make me wanna facepalm. It’s bad when *NY TIMES* comments are that awful, right? (I’m looking at you, mikejc. OMG JERRY HAIRSTON JR. IS HITTING .450 IN ST!!!!)

    • Lanny

      Just because people comment on the NY Times it makes them intelligent?
      The fallacy is thinking the NY Times is actually a good paper.

      • bexarama

        actually the fallacy is the predetermined outcome, duh

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size


    Considering the ultimate price tag ($8 million for one year), it may have been the prudent move to bring Damon back for a year. But, then again, there was that “budget” concern which we heard so often. It may just be conventional wisdom on my part, but it seemed like Damon was in the middle of things happening last season more times than not. For the record, his OPS in wins was over .900 and he batted .245 in games that the Yankees lost.

    A.) We don’t know that the 1/8M offer Damon took from the Tigers is one he would have taken from us. Aging, somewhat unwanted stars often take slightly less from new teams than they’d be willing to take from their incumbent teams due to pride. Damon’s price for us may have been 1/10M or the 2/14M that the reported final (non-deferred) offer was. It’s not that cut and dried.
    B.) Budgets are real, Steve. There’s no need for your unnecessary quotes. Not only are they real, they’re a good thing and you should be happy that the team you love is both willing to spend huge bucks but also has some measure of long-term financial planning and doesn’t write blank checks willy-nilly.
    C.) It is just conventional wisdom on your part. Damon was in the middle of a lot of things happening last year because a lot of things happened for us last year. Remembered eyewitness testimony is notorious for people seeing what they want to see.
    D.) We get the gaudy OPS number for the wins, but only the batting average for the losses? That seems either lazy or intentionally misleading. You can do better.

    • Lanny

      “Budget” was just a good excuse for being nice and not saying “we don’t want you anymore”. Because that is obv what Cashman felt. There is no doubt he could have gone 8 for 1 if he really desired him. He obv didn’t. Now we’ll see if Gardner or Winn can do the job or if hes scouring the trade market for a bat in June.

      Damon will be missed. No matter how much you want Gardner to be “Kenny Lofton”.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

        A.) I don’t think Lanny knows that I don’t actually respond to his comments anymore. Whatevs.

        B.) The funny thing about his coda (No matter how much you want Gardner to be “Kenny Lofton”), other than the Lombardian unnecessary quotes, of course, is that when the Gardner/Lofton comp was brought up the other day, I spoke out AGAINST the comp and said that Gardner wouldn’t be as good as Lofton, that Dave Roberts was a better comp for him. But, I can’t expect SBGL to remember what people said, he can’t even fucking remember what he said himself.

  • bexarama

    And the Yankees’ bench? Have you seen their choices this year in terms of a fourth outfielder and backup infielder? If Swisher goes down, for the season, early, you’re looking at Winn or Gardner as a starting replacement. Basically, you’re punting 25 homers there. And, if A-Rod, Jeter or Cano is lost for the year, they will be replaced by Ramiro Pena. That’s a huge offensive loss… The biggest concern should be around Rodriguez. Yes, he says his hip is fine now. But, if it goes, then there goes your third baseman and your cleanup hitter.

    Dude this is the case for every team. I know A-Rod’s hip is at least a slightly minor concern, of course. I’m not being blase. But, like, a bench is a bench. Should we have signed Chone Figgins as backup or something? And teams losing their best players would lose production. Shocking. I really thought the Cardinals would be better off with whoever their backup 1B is, rather than Pujols.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size

      FACT: If the Red Sox lose Youkilis, Pedroia, Martinez, Drew, or some combination of them for the year, they will not be as good as they would be with all of them healthy. FACT.

    • Tom Zig

      “Have you seen their choices this year in terms of a fourth outfielder”

      And he was expecting who, exactly, to be the Yankees’ fourth OFer?

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a The Large Sample Size


        • Jack

          Heh. Is it bad that i’m now picturing Jon Heyman singing “I’m F#$%ing Johnny Damon” to Scott Boras?

    • Accent Shallow

      Well, Pena really doesn’t have an MLB bat. Of course, how many teams have a backup infielder who’s not going to have an embarrassing bat? Russo could do that, but I wouldn’t bet on it happening this year.

      (Speaking of Russo, CHONE expects an OBP of .332, while ZiPS says .312.)