Remembering when the Yankees had the best infield in baseball

Reports: Orioles land Ubaldo Jimenez
Rothschild emphasizing the bottom of the zone
Those were the days. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)
Those were the days. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

By their own admission, the Yankees are heading into the season with some serious question marks on the infield. Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira are both coming back from what amount to lost seasons while Brian Roberts has been battling injuries for almost a half-decade now. Kelly Johnson is a solid player but nothing more, yet he is the surest thing on the infield at the moment.

It wasn’t all that long ago that the infield was the strongest part of the Yankees’ roster. Jeter has been anchoring the infield (and the entire team, really) since 1996 and he’s had some truly great teammates over the years, so strong infield units are nothing new to New York. In fact, only five teams have had a 4+ WAR player at the four infield positions throughout baseball history, and a recent Yankees squad is one of them. Here’s the list:

Fifty-nine teams have boasted three 4+ WAR players on a single infield (most recently the 2013 Rangers), but only five teams have managed four such players. That’s it. It’s happened once in the last 30 years and three times in the last century. The Yankees, of course, had that one infield full of 4+ WAR players just five years ago, during their 2009 World Championship season. Let’s look back at their performances.

1B Mark Teixeira – .292/.383/.565 (141 OPS+), 43 2B, 39 HR, 5.1 WAR

Teixeira’s first year in pinstripes was his best by a not small margin, as he led the league in both homers and runs driven in (122). He finished second to Joe Mauer in the AL MVP voting but, in reality, he wasn’t even the best player on the Yankees’ infield. We’ll get to that in a bit. Following his typically slow start to the year — he was sitting on a .191/.328/.418 batting line as late as May 12th — Teixeira was a monster all summer, hitting .315/.396/.597 with 32 homers in the team’s final 129 games of the season. He just straight mashed that year. What a beast.

2B Robinson Cano – .320/.352/.520 (121 OPS+), 48 2B, 25 HR, 4.5 WAR

Man, remember how awful Robbie was in 2008? He hit .271/.305/.410 (86 OPS+) and was worth 0.2 WAR during that miserable campaign, which landed him in plenty of trade rumors. I’m sure you haven’t forgotten about all the Cano for Matt Kemp talk. My favorite part of that was signing then-free agent Orlando Hudson to take over at second. That would have been a disaster given the player Cano developed into. That 2009 season was Robbie’s first step towards joining the game’s elite, but on a rate basis, he was the least productive player on his own infield. Bananas.

SS Derek Jeter – .334/.406/.465 (125 OPS+), 27 2B , 18 HR, 30 SB, 6.6 WAR

Remember when I said Teixeira was not even the best player on the infield? That’s because Jeter was. The Cap’n was a monster from the leadoff spot, hitting for average, getting on base, stealing bases (30-for-35!), and, believe it or not, playing solid defense. The various metrics all say Jeter was above-average with the glove that year (+3 DRS, +6.3 UZR, +4 Total Zone), and while you can’t trust one season’s worth of defensive stats, I definitely remember believing he was playing better defense that year based on what I saw. Know how I always say you need unexpected contributions if you want to win the World Series? Jeter’s defense was an unexpected contribution in 2009. His bat was pretty awesome as well. What a season that was.

3B Alex Rodriguez – .286/.402/.532 (138 OPS+), 17 2B, 30 HR, 14 SB, 4.2 WAR

When the 2009 campaign opened, Cody Ransom was the starting third baseman. A-Rod was scheduled to miss the first few weeks of the season due to hip surgery, a surgery that kept him out until early-May. He famously hit a three-run homer on the very first pitch he saw in his first game back, then proceeded to hit (almost) like vintage A-Rod for the remainder of the summer. He and Teixeira were the most devastating 3-4 combination in the game for this one year. Rodriguez also managed to extend his record streak of consecutive seasons with 30+ homers and 100+ RBI to twelve thanks to a two-homer, seven-run batted inning in the final game of the regular season.

* * *

Know what is really amazing about this infield? These four guys combined to play 594 of 648 possible games (91.7%) even though A-Rod missed the start of the year with the hip issue. They were awesome when they were on the field and they were on the field pretty much the entire season. The Yankees didn’t just have the best infield in baseball back in 2009, they legitimately had one of the best infield units in baseball history. It was the centerpiece of the championship team — everyone else was part of the supporting cast.

Reports: Orioles land Ubaldo Jimenez
Rothschild emphasizing the bottom of the zone
  • Fred

    Whats our total infield WAR, 6 total now?
    Adding Drew…8-9 WAR..

    • I’m One

      Not happening. Time to drop the Drew discussions (unless Cashman pulls a ninja move).

      And, it is always possible Teix & Jeter manage to put up a 3+ WAR seasons, although certainly not a guarantee. All we can do at this point is hope they’re both healthy and productuve.

      • OldYanksFan

        Teix could be worth 3 WAR.
        But Jeter? Sorry… No chance. Zero. Zip Nada None.
        Jeter’s last 3 bWAR was 2009.
        That’s FIVE years ago.
        I would be THRILLED if we get 2 bWAR from the SS position.

      • Fred

        Let me ask you: who is your infield in 2015? Given Arod is given the door or banished to DH, you’ll pretty much have to buy a second basemen, ss, and a third basemen all during next year’s offseason.
        Not to mention a starter to replace kuroda’s production, and an outfielder, Gardner or otherwise.

        Other that were looking at a trade for an infielder for Gardner, Nova, or possibly Sanchez by the trade deadline. The first 2 of which we shouldnt be without during this season

        Drew can help at third base this season and can be used as a starter next season at any of those positions, namely second base if were targeting jj hardy or hanley ramirez for ss, headly for 3b, etc.

        • Fred

          Roberts will not be durable enough for the season. Any amateur scout can tell you that. The front office is being severely irresponsible and putting its already hefty investment of talent at risk by phoning in this infield. Its the same lie the fans were fed last year. Sure April/May may be great, Hafner and Youkilis can carry this team…and then wait for it to blow up in their face. Sign Drew for 3B, Let Johnson/Roberts platoon at 2B, its both of their natural positions. This way Roberts wont be pushed as hard and maybe can go the whole season. Johnson can be a super utility man rather than used as a starter.

    • The Great Gonzo

      Wha????? Are you saying Drew adds 3 WAR or that he IS 8-9 WAR himself?

      In other news, Stephen Drew will be late to report to any spring camps as he is off healing lepers and helping crippled children walk once again…

      • Havok9120

        The latter possibility is so ridiculous that I reject even the notion that that’s what he meant.

        The former is doable, though not so neat a guarantee as he’s saying given all the injury mileage.

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

        He just had the wrong name. Scott Sizemore is worth 8-9 WAR by himself. At each position. At the same time.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        It’s going to suck when the World Series winds up being Yankees vs. Drew this season.

        • The Great Gonzo


  • I’m One

    The Yankees didn’t just have the best infield in baseball back in 2009, they legitimately had one of the best infield units in baseball history.

    As it should be. All was right in the universe in 2009. Let’s hope we get back to days like those without having to wait 30 years.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      I’m very excited for the next WS contending team, whether it’s this year or somewhere down the line.

      But man, at least personally, if I ever needed the distraction that the 2009 team provided, it was that year. Always going to have a special place in my heart.

      • jjyank

        Sure was a nice way to kick off my senior year of college. And considering I was surrounded by Red Sox fans and had to suffer through 2007, I’m eternally grateful the Yankees won a championship while I was there as well.

        My cousin got married in October of 2009. We all went down to North Carolina for the wedding. My entire extended family are huge Yankee fans, even the ones down in NC. During the reception we all kept sneaking upstairs to my hotel room watch the Yankees play the Angels in the ALCS. Fun times.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          Just my favorite Yankee moment ever was winning that WS. Actually got to watch it with one of the best minor celebrities you’d want with you at that moment.

          • jsbrendog

            no yankee moment will ever match the HR mattingly hit in the 95 alds (partly because gary thorne’s call gives me goosebumps to this day) or to me the come back from 6 runs in game 4 of the 1996 world series.

            i know some could say the 01 WS games with walkoffs or any number of moments but as a kid these were the first of their kind for someone who had followed a losing team for 6 years before they stopped sucking.

            • jsbrendog

              This one by Mattingly!

              HANG ON TO THE ROOF!


              • Tanakapalooza Floozy

                I was there.

                And there is Jeter, popping up to the top step even in ’95. And so the torch was passed.

                Donnie Baseball, my ATF Yank.

        • JLpinstripes

          Was a great way to kick off my freshman year in college. Where did your cousin get married in North Carolina? There are lots of Yankee fans around here, as well as Red Sox fans since 2004. My grandfather was a Yankee fan, as is my father. My dad said that when they used to put up tobacco that the radio was on if there was a Yankee game on, otherwise it was turned off. I’ve heard that the Yankees were on the radio/tv a bunch back in the day, more so than any other team, which would explain the vast number of people in NC who are in Yankee families. I’m sure there are other reasons as well.

          • jjyank

            She got married in Raleigh, where they live. I’m sure there are plenty of Yankee fans down there. They’re Yankee fans because my family is originally from north Jersey (where I grew up) and just happened to move down there when the kids were little.

  • TWTR

    Tex’s rapid decline was probably unforeseeable, but they have not done a good job at having a credible young infielder in waiting to fill any of the non-1B slots.

    • Havok9120

      Probably unforeseeable?

      You been getting lucky with the Ouija board lately?

      • TWTR

        That his left-handed swing has always been long with a severe uppecut (compare it to his level RH swing) was a red flag to some because it made him vulnerable to any drop in bat speed.

        • Havok9120

          Which should not be anticipated at age 30. Not by a player that good. Furthermore, I don’t recall his two swings being all that radically different OR anyone claiming his decline comes from dropping bat speed. He admits changing his approach so he could hit the ball more toward right field.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          How long have you, yourself, believed this?

          • TWTR

            I wasn’t smart enough, but there were analysts that made that point at the time of the trade.

            • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

              Would love to see the sources on that.

              • Havok9120

                They probably exist. I can certainly see someone saying it; such critiques can be found on anyone. And as the uppercut became more pronounced I remember it being discussed.

                Still though, I’m not sure how a team is supposed to plan for a player deciding to prioritize power to right field.

              • Jorge Steinbrenner

                Easily Google-able, actually. I was able to link right to it the other day when this first came up.

              • The Tenth Inning Stretch

                I remember reading that as well. Now I won’t be able to let it go until I track down that article.

                • Jorge Steinbrenner

                  I sent one of the guys here an article the other night which addressed it quite clearly. Easy to find.

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              Fine. It’s not a bad discussion as intellectual exercise.

    • jsbrendog

      they didnt before cano either. he showed up out of nowhere.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Such little faith in Mr. Womack, this one.

  • sevrox

    From the Department of Optimistic Buoyancy:

    Brian Roberts hits .275 with a .350 OBP in 140 games
    Tex hits .270 with 30 HR and 100 RBI
    Jeter hits .310 with 200 hits in his final season
    The top 4 Yank starters win an average of 15 games each…

    The rest of the starters live up to the back of their baseball cards.

    Just sayin’…

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      My favorite sabremetric state, the GUT, tells me they’re more likely to overperform this season. I always trust the GUT. It’s variable according to who is computing the GUT, though.

      • Tanakapalooza Floozy

        Whoa there Nellie. There’s GUT and then there’s GUT. You talkin pGUT or gGUT? I’m a gGUT kind of guy myself.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          It really depends on what meal of the day we’re talking about.

  • RIVAN44

    Crazy …. the amount of talent that we took for granted just 5 short years ago. Gonna miss the Cap’n…here’s hoping that the next core is in the pipeline. Remember these players in the farm system are just kids. The next Jeter , Cano, Rivera, Posada, Bernie, Pettite might just be ready to surprise us…Go Yanks!!

  • The Great Gonzo

    In hindsight, a Cano for Kemp swap woulda been pretty pretty pretty pretty interesting.

    • TWTR

      Or assuming they couldn’t extend him two years ago, just trading Cano for the best deal possible last season or even before that.

      • Havok9120

        Do not pretend that thinking such a trade “interesting” is agreeing with the “voluntarily gut the middle of the order in 2013 and possibly 2012 for minor leaguers” plan that you’ve pitched in the past.

        • TWTR

          Pretend? At some point, virtually every franchise in professional sports would benefit from sacrificing the present (especially if financial considerations are an issue) to boost the longer term. That certainly was the case in 2013. As for 2012, that would depend on how much more they could have gotten for trading a player under a team’s control for two more seasons. That is why Kemp may have been an option, but there probably were others as well.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            And you believed this at that time in 2012? Did you also believe, in 2004, that Javy Vazquez was a mistake due to abuse points?

            Tell me you did and I’ll back off, as you’re entitled to your opinion, but some of this strikes me as the worst kind of Monday Morning QBing.

            • TWTR

              I thought they should have explored a trade for Cano, depending on how committed Hal was at the time to the $189m budget. It’s probably the reason he didn’t give Cashman the funds to pursue Darvish, so it may have factored into what they were prepared to pay Cano as well.

              As for the abuse points issue, my point was simply that Vazquez’s problems were not simply the result of a good pitcher not working out; there were red flags which presented risks.

              So it’s not about Monday Morning QBing as much as looking at a fuller story of why things happen.

              The choice that offseason was between Schilling and Vazquez. The Yankees were going to go after one of them. I would like to know if there was something about Schilling other than age that caused them to prioritize Vazquez.

              • Jorge Steinbrenner

                I’m fine with the Vazquez question just being one in which we’re curious rather than asserting that we knew something they didn’t. It actually does make for an interesting question.

                I simply disagree on Cano, and I think you’re potentially drawing lines that aren’t there with the Darvish statement.

              • jjyank

                “As for the abuse points issue, my point was simply that Vazquez’s problems were not simply the result of a good pitcher not working out; there were red flags which presented risks.”

                Still very much disagree.

              • Dan G

                I commend the Yankees for walking away from Cano, but I have to disagree that they ever would have traded Robbie. This is the team that traded FOR Alfonso Soriano just to try to save a lost season. The Yankees are postseason-or-bust until the final minute they are eliminated.

                And as for Darvish, since the posting fee doesn’t count against the cap he has an AAV of $9.3M for an ace caliber starter. Not even 2 weeks later they gave 3/$35M ($11.6 AAV) to a SET UP MAN so either they simply didn’t like Darvish or they’re total idiots. The Rafael Soraino deal alone proves it’s both.

          • Mike Axisa

            virtually every franchise in professional sports would benefit from sacrificing the present (especially if financial considerations are an issue) to boost the longer term.

            I strongly disagree with that statement. Planning for the long-term is such a crapshoot, especially when talking about baseball.

            • TWTR

              But most teams do it, sometimes by necessity, sometimes not. Teams often trade players they think they may not be able to re-sign, or to gain payroll flexibility.

              For example, that is why the Yankees traded Sheffield, although granted, it didn’t work out.

              The Tigers traded Granderson for the longer term and it has worked out.

              Alternatively, teams sometimes trade for players with the longer term in mind. For example, the merits of the particular trade aside, Cashman said at the time of the Pineda trade that it was much, if not more, for longer term than the present.

              As for Cano, they almost certainly knew that they might not be able to re-sign him. Cano reportedly told teammates that he would sign with the team that offered him the most money. Don’t you think the Yankees’ FO was aware of that as well?

              So trading Cano in 2013, depending on what was offered (of course) would have been for the longer term and it would have made a lot of sense, especially given their slim chances of making the playoffs.

              As for trading him in 2012 (again, if he would not have accepted an extension) would have (of course) depended on what was offered, but it’s certainly possible that a young, cost-controlled player or two was available who may not have been as value Cano at the time, but may have offered comparable value over time while making a significant contribution in the present.

              So really it’s about cost-benefit and hedging risk.

              • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

                Most teams trade young, prime players for long term reasons?


                Sheffield was not traded simply for payroll flexibility, and he wasn’t as young as Cano when that talk happened.

                The Tigers also got Max Scherzer in that deal, who had already been in the majors and shown flashes of greatness in Arizona, albeit inconsistent.

                And no, no, no. There is literally ZERO argument that the YANKEES would have traded Cano in 2012.

                Go to the Rays or A’s board with that shit. Good Lord.

                • TWTR

                  No, most teams make moves at times that prioritize the longer view.

                  Why did they need payroll flexibility? Because they wanted options beyond the present.

                  Why did Cashman want to sign Beltran in 2004 instead of allocating the available money, as George wanted, for Randy Johnson? Because he was taking the longer term view.

                  Why did he want to sign Vlad instead of Sheffield, as George wanted? Same reason.

                  The Rays or A’s have to do it more often, but all teams do it at times, including the NY Freaking Yankees.

                  • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

                    Wrong wrong wrong wrong. Wrong wrong wrong wrong.

                  • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

                    Wrong on just about all accounts, in fact.

                    The only correct thing you said was in paragraph #2. And we see how long the NY Freaking Yankees held on to that idea.

              • Havok9120

                None of those players were centerpieces on teams who relied on players which could not be replaced and were too old to continue producing forever.

                As said below, your argument for 2013 holds some water, even if I disagree. But I’m not sure the team should have been planning for some third-tier nobody to make Cano an offer the market hadn’t come close to matching. There was good reason to think he could be retained. There’s also good reason to think a Boras client with elite talent was going to test the market under almost any possible circumstances.

              • jjyank

                It’s also pure fantasy. A team like the Yankees doesn’t trade their best player mid-season while in contention. I never believed it would happen, and it annoys me that it’s still discussed as a real world option.

                • TWTR

                  That the Yankees were anything more than a marginal contender in 2013 is a fantasy.

                  I’m sorry if reality annoys you.

                  • Havok9120

                    Surely you can see how trading a guy who everyone knew would make big money soon would play with 189 in the backdrop and fans already pissed about payroll shortcuts? Especially with ratings problems.

                    In fact, I know you can. You’ve brought it up in other discussions. So why does it play no role here?

                    • TWTR

                      I’m not sure I understand your point.

                      Are you saying that fans would think the Yankees were cheap for trading him?

                      If so, taking a hit for a few months while adding a young asset(s) and then spending big in the offseason, isn’t a terribly high price to pay for implementing your strategy.

                    • Havok9120

                      I think fans would think they were cheap and giving up on Mo’s last year. Giving up on a season is, under any circumstances, unacceptable to the majority of Yankee fans. Giving up on Mo’s last season is doubly so. Especially since Robbie was a popular homegrown player. There is simply nothing in the Yankees history (the whole thing) that matches the model you’re peddling. They don’t trade prime players of Cano’s caliber for a long term benefit. Whether this is the right tack or not in Cano’s case is debatable, but not the history of whether such moves are something the Yankees do.

                      Nor is how easygoing fans would be about going after a long term benefit for short term performance hit backed up by recent history. 189 would be, at least theoretically, massively beneficial to the team over the next five or seven years. Yet it, and all moves and non-moves that even MIGHT have been made toward it over the last year or two, have drawn nothing but ire from the vast majority of fans.

                  • The Great Gonzo

                    Being within 2 games of a wild card is within contention… marginal or otherwise. We are not talking about a Yankees team that below .500 or anything, within 2 games of a wildcard spot.

                    That is actual reality.

                    HOWEVER, thinking that the Yankees would be that close to contention and decided that they would throw in the towel and trade Cano for prospects (which may or may not ever amount to anything) is pure fantasy.

                    AND NO, the Sheffield trade was not a trade for ‘the future’, it was a trade of an extra RFer (with Abreu in the mix) on a player who had gloriously and famously worn out his welcome.

                    • TWTR

                      When there are so many teams bunched up like they were in the standings, and many of those teams had to play each other, a couple of games in the standings isn’t as easy a jump as it might seem in isolation.

                      Just because the Yankees didn’t or wouldn’t do it, doesn’t mean anyone has to like it or think it was smart. For all we know, Cashman may not have thought that it was smart since he apparently didn’t want to trade young assets for Soriano, so it’s not unreasonable to think that he may have liked to add young assets instead.

                      If the Sheffield trade wasn’t about the future, why did they get only prospects back? You seriously don’t think they couldn’t have gotten back a marginal veteran who could have contributed immediately? Really?

                      I am not saying they should have done that. What they did made sense because it prioritized the future.

                    • jjyank

                      “When there are so many teams bunched up like they were in the standings, and many of those teams had to play each other, a couple of games in the standings isn’t as easy a jump as it might seem in isolation.”

                      That’s great, but they were still on contention. The Yankees do not trade their best player when in contention. It’s just not how they operate.

                      “Just because the Yankees didn’t or wouldn’t do it, doesn’t mean anyone has to like it or think it was smart.”

                      That’s also great. You can disagree with it, you have a right to your opinion. I think you should agree that your opinion would never happen in the real world, though. At least not with this team in this setting.

                    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

                      He’s not going to agree. His head is in a block of concrete.

                    • Havok9120

                      “Just because the Yankees didn’t or wouldn’t do it, doesn’t mean anyone has to like it or think it was smart.”

                      Yes, but you’ve been defending such a move as a realistic scenario that the current FO/ownership overlooked (presumably out of shortsightedness). That is very different from defending it from a “this is an interesting discussion to have” intellectual exercise.

                    • Jorge Steinbrenner

                      ….which would be fine, but it never appears to come off as an intellectual exercise when you bring things like that up on here.

                      Intellectual exercises can be fun when everyone realizes that’s what they’re doing.

                    • The Great Gonzo

                      “Getting prospects in return” =/= “rebuilding for the future”.

                      If you don’t recall the way it happened, lets refresh a little bit:
                      “The Yankees had picked up Sheffield’s option last Sunday with every intention of trading him. With Bobby Abreu signed to play right field, Sheffield’s only spot with the Yankees would have been at first base, and he had told Cashman he would only change positions full-time if he received a contract extension — which the GM was not willing to give him. ”

                      And also, of the three guys they got, only Humberto Sanchez ranked anywhere as a legit prospect. Whelen and Claggett were just sorta… guys:

                      ‘ “Sanchez looks like he could be that diamond in the rough type of guy,” Joe Torre said. “You have to stockpile pitching — especially young pitching.”

                      “He’s a strong prospect,” Cashman said. “We’re excited about him. He’s the front-line guy of the three.”‘


                  • Jorge Steinbrenner

                    They were two games out of a WC spot at the trading deadline.

                    Now you may have believed they were going to fall flat on their face but that, again, is opinion. The standings showed them in contention. It was a fight, but they were in.

                    They also remained in it until mid-September.

                    Real easy to say they should have punted after having the knowledge that they didn’t make it.

                  • jjyank

                    Reality? The Yankees were only a couple of games out of a playoff spot at the trade deadline. When was the last time that the Yankees were in contention on July 31 and traded away their best player?

                    I’ll wait. The reality is that would never happen, at least not with the way the team has operated over the last two decades.

                    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

                      He’s not living in reality. He’s trying to use a small market philosophy on a big market team. Fun exercise and yet completely and totally irrelevant.

              • Jorge Steinbrenner

                Teams do it out of necessity, but doing it out of straight philosophy is not a good thing for precisely the reason Mike gives.

                Agreed with Havok as to Sheffield. Not the ideal example there.

          • Havok9120

            1) Trading for Kemp was thought to be an option four years previous to any date we are currently discussing. Which is probably for the best given Kemp’s extension.

            2) There’s no logical reason to trade Robbie Cano going into the 2012 season. Mo and Jeter were still both good/great but wouldn’t last forever. Andy was back in the fold. Swisher was in his walk year. ARod could still be counted on for productivity of some sort on both sides of the ball…the window for winning a championship was still wide open. That team was pretty freaking good that year. And you would’ve been happy taking a huge chunk out of that for prospects (which is always what you’ve said Cano should have been traded for, “the future”)? During what we all knew were Jeter and Mo and Andy’s final seasons?

            The fanbase would have lost it, and rightfully so. Not to mention that we KNOW prospects are a tremendous crapshoot, even in their almost-finished form (hey, Mr. Pineda).

            You want to stick to your guns on trading him at the ASB in 2013, when we knew Jeter and Tex were done, CC was having an off year, and Gradnerson and ARod were still big question marks? Fine. I think you’re wrong and that that is still a terribly unrealistic scenario when in the hunt for a WC spot, but at least it’s better than you trying to argue for trading one of your two best players on what was unarguably a championship caliber team.

            • Dalek Jeter

              Havok puts it perfectly here. The argument could be made for trading Robbie in 2013, I may have personally been against the move but it would be understandable. However there was absolutely NO reason to trade him in 2012.

              • TWTR

                It depends on what they thought their chances were of re-signing him (assuming again he would not accept what they thought was a reasonable extension), and what they could have gotten back.

                • Jorge Steinbrenner

                  …and where they were in the standings at the time.

                  • Dalek Jeter

                    This. The Yankees ability or inability to resign Cano didn’t happen in a vacuum. The team won 95 games that year, and if I remember correctly were something like 10 games ahead in the East by the trade deadline. A team like that does not trade their best player ‘for the future.’

                    • Havok9120

                      You do remember correctly. It took some epically bad performances in August and an injury to Tex to put that division back in contention.

                  • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

                    Jorge, the only relevant detail is what the trade would have looked like. Ignore everything else in the entire world and focus on that.

                • Havok9120

                  What would that have had to look like, though? You’d need to replace Robbie’s production on that team to avoid a lynching by the fans (and, cuz, y’know, championship) and still be planning for the future. It’s not like that’s an easy trade to make.

                  At some point the plan needs to be “win now.” And if there was ever a time for the Yankees to be going win now, it is the 2010 through 2013 Yankees. Always making the moves that have the greatest future upside limits your ability to put a truly great team on the field. Swisher would have been an easy piece to sell that season. Granderson too. Could have gotten HUGE vale back out of trading them and Cano.

    • Havok9120


      I don’t like it. I think we needed the infield help, on both sides of the ball, more than we needed another even really good OF. It’s not as if we’ve had an unproductive OF for most of the intervening period.

      • The Great Gonzo

        Not in 2012-13, but in 2008-10? That coulda been alot of interestingness.

        • Havok9120

          I just think that a lot of what Kemp would have brought could have been more easily replaced than Robbie.

          That kind of offense and defense out of 2B is just unreal, whereas it’s not like Gardner, Swisher, Damon, and Granderson were punchless wonders during those seasons.

          • The Great Gonzo

            Yeah, i can concede that point. Cano was other-worldly from 2010-13. Just saying it could have been interesting if you take the “butterfly effect” that trade would have caused…

            I had a shit ton of hypothetical from here on, but felt it wiser to erase them.

  • Chris

    A lot of triples from Cano that year. Way more than I remember.

  • mitch

    times sure have changed. Homerun Baker’s single season best HR total was 12.

  • NeilT

    I moved to the States in late 2008, and inherited Yankee fandom from my wife, a native Long Islander. I watched one of the last games at YS2 from the bleachers, but really, the first Yankee team I followed properly was that 2009 team. (A pity I had to move to Pennsylvania for work – so I’ve only managed to get to one game at YS3 over the past 5 seasons – every visit back to the NY area always seemed to coincide with a road trip!)

    I remember early on, the team was a mess. The bullpen, in particular, was a mess. Tex was awful. CC wasn’t doing that well. Joba 4th starter?! And who was the 5th starter since Wang was done? And Cody freakin’ Ransom?

    Then, things kinda clicked.

    A-Rod came back and mashed from the get-go. The meeting in Atlanta. The rise of Aceves and Hughes in the ‘pen. The 15-inning walk-off against Boston. Creaming Boston down the stretch.

    Yeah, I was spoiled. Nothing quite like it since. DJ3K, Mo’s last season, Raul in the 2012 postseason – all individual moments, all great, sure, but not like watching that 2009 team do what it did from June to the end of October.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead


  • Hunter

    The whole lineup that season was incredible
    Derek Jeter
    Johnny Damon
    Mark Teixeira
    Alex Rodriguez
    Hideki Matsui
    Jorge Posada
    Robbie Cano
    Nick Swisher
    Melkey Cabrera

    • NeilT

      It raked. And with 4 switch-hitters, match-ups for the opposing managers must’ve been a nightmare.

    • Fred

      Summer nights….

  • James

    It was also great/historic because its one of the few times a 2nd/SS combo each put up more than 200 hits in a season

  • Ahk

    I know A-Rod is a pariah now but… does anyone besides me miss having a 5-tool, 40+ homer guy on the team? Closest we’ve gotten to that since was Cano, although he had less power and can’t run to save his life and Curtis Granderson that one year, although he was a strikeout machine with a low average. Still you remember when we had the best player in baseball and A-Rod could hit 50 homers a year? …I want steroids Rodriguez back haha. Still, we didn’t win the WS those years so I guess it is all relative.

    • Havok9120

      The lack of titles in those years had absolutely nothing to do with ARod or the offense in general.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        I swore I read “lack of titties” here.

        With Jeter, this has never been a problem. I’m sure Robbie got his fair sure.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner


          or “phare.”

        • Havok9120

          There’s also ARod, doing his ARod thing.

        • The Great Gonzo

          Robbie and Melky? And all teh pron stars? That was living the life, I’m sure

        • I’m One

          I’m not sure A-Rod has though (although there have certainly been some exceptions), as those body-builder girls are typically lacking in the tittie area.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    They were awesome.

    You also can’t fight change in this world, hard as you may try.

    There’s a downturn right now. Some perhaps self-inflicted, some not. I look forward to having the best infield in baseball again one day.

  • Bavarian Yankee

    A-Rod had 14 steals, not 24.

    Anyway, when your 3B, who hits 30 homers, has an OPS of .933 and produces 4.2 WAR, and despite all that is your worst infielder when it comes to WAR, then you know you had one of the greatest infields that’ll ever play this game.

  • ropeadope

    1912/13 Philadelphia Athletics Home Run Baker/Jack Barry/Eddie Collins/Stuffy McInnis

    I remember Jack Barry as a game show host, most notably with The Joker’s Wild. Never realized he had been a major league baseball player.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner


    • dkidd

      and before joker’s wild, he was complicit in rigging the show “twenty one”, as depicted in the movie quiz show (which gave us the great christopher macdonald)


  • NeilT

    The thing is – look at the infielders the Yankees farm system has “produced” in the last 5 years. It’s what, Ramiro Pena, Nunez, Adams, Joseph? Am I missing someone?

    Look at all the current prospects – all pitchers, catchers, and outfielders. Maybe you turn one of the catchers into a 1B, but that’s not really a premium position defensively and anyway McCann is the 1B of the future now. And there’s Bird and O’Brien anyway.

    The best infield prospect right now is Jagielo, and he won’t be ready for the show until the back end of ’15 at best.

    Culver? DBJ? Busts. Maybe Katoh can build on the early promise, but I don’t see him as being any help until late ’16 at the very earliest.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      You’re not missing anyone. No one’s denying it hasn’t been good.

      But, hey, we had Nunez, Pena, AND Reegie Corona on the 40-man one season.

    • Kevin

      Not necessarily disagreeing, but you do have to throw Refsnyder in there if he can figure out second base.

  • Dalek Jeter

    Man…remember when A-Rod could get around on inside fastballs? Feelings on his personality and steroid uses aside, you have to miss mid-2000s A-Rod at least a little bit.

    • I’m One

      Yeah, I am NOT an A-Rod fan and I certainly miss what he was able to do. Would love to have someone like that back on the team.

  • dkidd

    the thing i remember about that season is how much it rained the first two months. tex wasn’t hitting, rain every night, the jet stream to right field making the new stadium seem like a joke. watching the games was like a dream where you’re running as hard as you can and not getting anywhere. i was convinced ys3 was cursed

    and then things got better…

  • Dalek Jeter

    Does anybody remember when Peter Abraham made the argument that the Yankees were a better team with Cody Ransom at third base instead of A-Rod? I’m trying to find the article right now…

  • Holy Ghost

    The 2009 team even had a theme song

    “Empire State Of Mind” by Jay-Z

    • I’m One

      That’s the answer: This year’s team needs a theme song! Recommendations?

      • Holy Ghost

        Nothing that I can think of for this year.

        Last years was “Wake Me Up When It’s All Over” by Avicii

      • ropeadope

        Turning Japanese by The Vapors.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Blueprint 3 is five years old already? That’s kind of surprising.

      • Dalek Jeter

        If by surprising you mean terrifying, because apparently time is beginning to move faster and faster.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          Albums from my COLLEGE years are celebrating their 20th anniversaries.

          “Pretty Hate Machine” turned 25 years old. TWENTY FUCKING FIVE.

          • Dalek Jeter

            Yes, but you’ve got your life together, so it has to be slightly less terrifying.

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              40 is terrifying. I have no business being it, yet here it comes.

        • RetroRob

          Yes. I don’t care about global warming. All brightest scientific minds must be direct all their skills toward understanding and slowing down the rapid march of time!

    • Jacob

      “Seattle Washington State of Mind” by Jay-Z

  • Fardbart

    Question to Yankee fans: I see a lot of optimism around this team but little mentioned of problem with the Yankees last year remaining the problem with the Yankees this year: a stunning lack of depth.
    They can not afford an injury to anyone, as they have nothing resembling a quality replacement at any position. Couple that with what appears to be weakness at virtually every infield position, the back-end of their rotation and bullpen and an aged roster, and the margin for error is nil.
    The attention has been paid to who they added (stars) but not on the lack of small moves to shore up depth (Ryan isn’t a major league hitter). Their lack of a farm system will doom them to mediocrity again in 2014, as Boston, Tor, TB and Balt all have decent to great options in the minors

  • KyleLitke

    I hope anyone on the team puts up an OBP at least equal to the WORST OBP in that infield. Not a sure thing at all.

  • Nathan

    That was a pretty sweet infield. And to think Cano was batting NINTH(!) on that championship squad.

  • Improbable Island Guy on Another Computer

    One of the best infields of all time. What an offense that was.