Tuesday, February 23, 2010

2010 Team Analysis: New York Yankees

New York Yankees:

2009 Record: 103-59

General Manager: Brian Cashman

Manager: Joe Girardi

Organizational Philosophy: when the New York Yankees first bought Babe Ruth from the cash-strapped Red Sox on December 26 1919, they would soon find out that currency would be their favorite weapon of choice.  Since that time the Yankees have utilized their vast financial resource to varying degrees which has recently brought their payroll to all-time MLB high of $209 million in 2008.  Last offseason we saw the Yankees become very active in the free agent market as they acquired high prices players like CC Sabathia, Mark Teixiera and A.J. Burnett; however, with all the money set to come off the books that year, the Yankees actually reduced their payroll slightly to $201 million.

This offseason, many analysts and agents were expecting the Yanks to break out the Steinbrenner Checkbook since players like John Lackey, Matt Holiday and Jason Bay were available and seeking large long-term deals. During that time there were rumors that the Yankees were looking to trim payroll even further but not too many of us believed it. However, with the offseason just about over it became quite apparent that the Yankees were going to refrain from spending and instead focus on acquiring affordable (albeit by Yankee standards) players needed to bolster their pitching and defense.

Since the rise of the Red Sox in terms of embracing statistical analysis and finding market inefficiencies, I believe that Brian Cashman has slowly grown into one of the better GM's in baseball.  His embrace of the amateur draft and international free agent market to bolster their pitching and offense has bloomed towards modest success (I only say modest since the jury is still out on the longterm success on their prized pitchers, Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain); however, their inability to find (non-bullpen) positions for some of their MLB-ready prospects has been a challenge (Austin Jackson, Juan Miranda and Ian Kennedy come to mind and if Jesus Montero doesn't stick at catcher, he could be added as well). Wisely, the Yankees do like to target high-risk/high-reward players through the draft and international market (Andrew Brackman, Slade Heathcott, Dellin Betances and Gary Sanchez) and if these players blossom and if the team has a positional need, they use them and, if not, they become bargaining chips.

2010 Commitments:

Starting Rotation:

C.C. Sabathia ($24.2M)
A.J. Burnett ($16.5M)
Andy Pettite ($11.75M)
Javier Vazquez ($11.5M)
Phil Hughes ($410K)

The main question concerning this rotation is who will fill the fifth spot.  Besides Phil Hughes other candidates include Joba Chamberlain, Alfredo Aceves, Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin.  Early reports from the Yankee camp does state that the spot is open to anyone regardless of past status but I am leaning towards a front office decision that either Hughes or Chamberlain is eventually named as the #5 starter.

Among the established starters, CC Sabathia performed admirably last season as the Yankees #1 starter but with no personal restrictions being put on his weight, one would have to guess how he'll hold up in 2012 through 2015. 

Another question I have concerns the health of A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettite.  Last season, Burnett made 30+ for two consecutive years for the first time in his career.  Burnett's walks were up (4.22 BB/9) last season and his groundballs have been trending downwards for the past three seasons (from 54.8% in '08 to 48.5% in '09 to 42.8% last season); essentially, Burnett only has two pitches but he has been successful mostly on the strength of his curveball.  I believe Burnett poses a lot of questions next season and none of them are good.

In his 15 year career, Andy Pettite has only made less than 30 starts twice.  Looking over his periphal stats we do see a pitcher aging gracefully and if he can post anywhere near 200 IP he'll be a benefit to this rotation.


Mariano Rivera ($15M)
Joba Chamberlain ($430K)
David Robertson ($406K)
Damaso Marte ($4M)
Mark Melancon ($400K)
Edwar Ramirez ($400K)
Boone Logan ($400K)
Alfredo Aceves ($406K)
Jonathan Albaladejo ($403K)

Last season, Brian Cashman decided to cut away some of the fat and looking at this bullpen where can see where he trimmed.  Of course, the high price attached to Mariano Rivera was scrutinized in 2008 but his ability and command keep him elite.

The rest of the bullpen will center around alot of Yankee homegrowns.  If Joba Chamberlain isn't named as the #5 starter then I would expect him to be the primary bridge to Rivera.  Curveball artist David Robertson and LHP Damaso Marte will be used in many high-leverage situations; both can garner high K numbers but their command could use some improvement.

Mark Melancon has longed been advertised as the Yankee closer of the future (before Joba-mania a few seasons back) and he has displayed excellent BB/K rates in the minors.  He has the ability to see moderate bullpen action in 2010 and if the Yankees put any trust into him he could impress.

On the field:

C: Jorge Posada ($13M)
C: Francisco Cervelli ($400K)
1B: Mark Teixiera ($20.6M)
2B: Robinson Cano ($9M)
SS: Derek Jeter ($22.6M)
3B: Alex Rodriguez ($33M)
INF: Ramiro Pena ($400K)
LF: Randy Winn ($1M)
LF: Brett Gardner ($410K)
CF: Curtis Granderson ($5.5M)
RF: Nick Swisher ($6.8M)
DH: Nick Johnson ($5.5M)

Talk has centered on making

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