Yankees 2009 Outlook.

January 9, 2009

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So, about these Yankees –

After missing the playoffs for the first time in over a decade, and closing out one of the most recognizable landmarks in baseball with an abject disappointment, this offseason was expected to be an active one for the bombers.  The fact that over 100 million dollars came off the books raised those expectations quite a bit.   So, as expected, they threw as much money as neccessary at Sabathia, locked up AJ Burnett (meh), collected Nick Swisher for shits and giggles, and then ripped Teixeira away from the sawx at the last minute. The damage?

About 425 million dollars.  $425,000,000. (It looks more imposing in numerical form.)

Does spending nearly a half of a billion dollars during a recession  guarantee a post season appearance?

Of course it doesnt.

Does spending nearly a half of a billion dollars during a recession display to the rest of the league, especially the sawx, how enormous your cock is?

It most certainly does.

Mark Teixeira is a great ball player, hes young, he hits for power and average, and may be the best fielding first baseman in the league right now.   He was the best offensive free agent, and after the Yankees backed up the brinks truck to C.C. Sabathias house, nobody really expected them to land Teixeira as well.  The kicker in all of this, of course, is that Tex was supposed to land with the sawx, according to every sportswriter in the country.  They had flown out to visit with him, they were looking around for a deal involving Lowell to clear out some room, the whole deal…The Yankees, meanwhile, were reported to have ‘not been in serious discussions’ regarding Teixeira.

When it came down to it, the Yankees coughed up a second 180 million dollar contract, apparently wooed Teixeira a bit, and landed him.  Theres been some speculation that he wanted to come to the bronx all along, and during his introductary press conference, he gushed about Donny baseball being his childhood hero.

C.C., who dicked the Yankees around for as long as possible, in order to get that extra 20 million tacked on,  had some similar comments about always wanting to be a Yankee.

Obviously, this is horse shit, and has been publicly decreed as such by WFAN callers and hosts alike – but what do you want from these guys?  Theyre not going to get up there and say, “I came for the money, bitch! “  You and I would do the same exact thing in their positions, and its just the nature of the business.  They have to play to the fans, its their job.

And who the fuck cares anyway. I mean really.  As long as they arent fat, lazy, lice infested, injury faking, little-league caliber left fielders, I give them a pass.  You can lie all you want about your long-time Yankee aspirations if you hit 315 with 30 jacks, or strike out 225 and rack up 18 wins.

  • Looking at the new additions, and some not-so-bold predictions for this team in 2009.
  • A.J. Burnett

I am fully prepared for Burnett to be a bust, but if he happens to contribute 10-12 wins, itll be a great bonus.  The potential for this guy is immense, however, and he had one of his better years this past season, largely due to his performances against the Yankees and Red Sox.  Hopefully for Yankees fans, this is an indication that as he has matured, he has turned into more of a ‘gamer’, higher pressure, better performance.  Burnett gobbled up 221 innings last year, won 18 games with a largely anemic Blue Jays lineup;  AJ also had 223 strikeouts, which are all  career records.

The issue, of course, with all incoming Yankees signings, is how they will perform in the Bronx –  where expectations, (rightfully so with that payroll), border on ridiculousness.   All things considered, I tend to think that Burnett will be a surprise this year, playing well above expectations.  I do see him being a solid number 3 or number 4 starter in this lineup, and would put him somewhere, at best, around 16 wins with 200 strikeouts.

Plus, he is a Sawx (and formerly Yankee) killer, which is always important to the Yanks.  If he posts a 2.10 era vs Boston, and a 4.75 against the rest of the league, you wont hear anyone bitching.  I guarantee it.

  • CC Sabathia

I am tempering my expectations for CC as far as stats this season.  If you look at his splits from his time with Cleveland and his time with Milwaukee, they are pretty dramatic.

Leaving record aside, due to the Indians overall woes, CC had half as many earned runs allowed, half as many home runs allowed, and halved his era after his trade to the Brewers.  You could attribute this to the discrepancy in offensive power in the AL and NL, or you could attribute this to him ‘turning it on’ towards the end of the season.  I tend to think that its primarily the former, not the latter in this situation. And that does not bode well for a pitcher wading into the power hitter infested waters of the AL East.  Pairing that with the fact that he had expressed his desire to pitch on the west coast prior to finally succumbing to the monopoly money the Yanks threw at him, you have to be concerned that his performance will drop off a bit.

That said, he is an inning eating, hard throwing lefty, in the prime of his career,which is what this team has been lacking in its starting rotation for some time.  While I do not see any Cy Young nominations coming his way this year, and while I think he has been severely overpaid, even by Steinbrenner standards, he will be a main cog in this staff.

I would also place him at around 15 wins, with over 200 strikeouts and he should approach 240 innings pitched.  If he can display the fire he showed in leading the Brewers in their dramatic late season run to the postseason, he will have performed what was asked of him.  While I think there will be some backlash towards him underperforming during the season, I see him performing when it matters most, which, in the words of Steve Summers, is of course, during some serious October baseball.

  • Mark Teixeira

If there is such a thing a sure bet for the Yankees this year, its got to be Teixeira.  The guy is a born Yankee.  Not because of his suddenly very public respect and admiration for an all-time great Yankee fist baseman, but because of his notoriously dilligent work ethic.  He is a corporate athelete.  His teammates, from Texas to Atlanta, to L.A., have had nothing but respect for his approach to the game, and the attitude that he brings with him to the field.  He treats baseball like its his business, and this is a perfect union when it comes to being a Yankee, the most coroporate of all sports organizations.

The Yankees are the definiton of big business when it comes to sports franchises.  The media in New York City is unrivaled in terms of voracity and many players coming into the city, and the bronx specifically, crumble under the intense scrunity that they receive.  Teixeira, however, seems built to withstand this type of atmosphere, perhaps better than any recent Yankee aquisition.

So the guys got thick skin, we get it, so what? Well, theres also this: hes a switch hitting, intelligent hitter that has had 30+ HRs, and 100 + RBIs in each of his last 5 seasons.  Put him behind ARod, (or in front?), and you present a very real problem to every team that has to face you this season.  If anything, his numbers should take a slight turn for the better this year, there will seldom be a situation in which he can be walked or pitched around.

  • The bottom line?

I would also expect to see improvement from Cano and Nady this season, which, factored into a lineup that will feature the perennially solid Jeter, a healthy Jorge Posada, and the aforementioned lightning rod at third base, looks slightly unfair on paper.

As we all know, paper doesnt win you anything, whether it has benjamin franklin, or a fantasy baseball worthy line-up on it.  This team was among the most talented in the league last year, but somehow found a way to choke it away.  Injuries to Wang and Posada certainly did not help anything, but the stark reality is that there was more than enough hitting talent in place, and it seemed the team was sleepwalking through large parts of the season, turning the switch on much too late in the year for it to matter.

This year, in the new Yankee Stadium, with its over the top luxury and over the top prices for seats,  the Yankees return to their over the top spending philosophy, to match the similarly lofty  expectations that they carry into every April.

Is half a billion enough to get it done?  It should be. And if nothing else, at least by signing Teixeira, and spending more than anyone thought possible, they were able to remind that little town in Massachusets who the boss really is.

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