General Yankees

The Good News

The Yankees won 95 games last season.

According to fangraphs, Joba Chamberlain, who pitched 71.2 innings, was the 5th most valuable pitcher on the staff. The 4th and 5th spots in the starting rotation were filled by AJ Burnett, Javy Vazquez, Sergio Mitre and Ivan Nova. Together they pitched almost 400 innings and accumulated a WAR of 1.

Again, the Yanks won 95 games last season.  

19 replies on “The Good News”

Or, the sub/at .500 ball they played for the last two and half months doesn’t continue.
The Yanks pitching was stellar at the ASG last year. The final numbers are much more indicative of the second half, which isn’t a surprise for any player, but the drop off between first half AJ and Hughes is severly extreme.

I think you can expect improvement from Hughes and Burnett, but there’s just a lot of question marks beyond that, even if Pettitte returns, given his injury and age. The offense will still be one of the top two in the league.
The season hinges on the rotation. I could see Burnett rebounding for a league-average season, Hughes continuing to progress and the Yankees cobbling together enough league-average back-end pitching to win 95-98 games. I could also see Burnett continuing to be a disaster and the last two spots of the rotation being a revolving door of suck, a la the 2006 Red Sox from August on and winning 88-90 games.
The thing is: The latter won’t happen. If that scenario occurs in the first half, the Yankees will make a trade in July for a starter. With Tampa looking at a bit of a retrenchment, the Yanks don’t need to be much better to make the playoffs.

The Yankees have one very good starting pitcher, a young starting pitcher with some real room for possible improvement and 3 question marks. I think every single Yankee fan would admit that this statement is true.
We can talk until we are blue in the face about will AJ or won’t he, I am just taking the position for sanity purposes that he is a question mark. A very, very expensive question mark.
The Yankees screwed up. They gave a contract to Burnett that he has surely not been deserving of as of yet. In doing so they assumed that CC and Burnett would be the anchors of this staff for at least the first few years of their respective contracts. Well that is not the case, obviously. There’s nothing they can do about that now.
Like I said last week, I would not be surprised to see the Yankees in 3rd place come the All-Star break. I am not being pessimistic I am being realistic. The Blue Jays have some very good young pitching and are solid, not spectacular 1-5. Add to that their offense and you could have the makings of a battle for second place early on. I would not be shocked by this.
So what can they do? Well not a whole lot right now. They are going to have to bide their time, sign some veterans and hope that the offense can be as good as it has been historically. When being evaluated they need to be taken out of the conversation with the Sox and Phillies. Those two teams are the two best teams on paper in December. The Red Sox have 5 very good to good pitchers, while the Phillies have 4 very good to elite pitchers and Joe Blanton. In addition the Sox have the best offense (on paper) in all of baseball. Nothing the Yankees do in December (at this point) can change that. All you can do is tip your cap to Theo and Amaro for putting together two very good teams.
The bright side of this all has to be that the Yankees are still go to contending (you’d hope) and that their farm system is in very, very good shape. This is not the 80’s or 90’s. They made mistakes, but they didn’t compound them by trading away all their youth for Ken Phelps type players. Let’s play a few months of baseball and see where this team is. If they are hitting the ball and catching it at a contending level then Cash has some moves he can make. If not, the youth is there and you keep that intact and build for 2012. You cannot (if your Cashman or Yankee fans) panic at this point. We’ve made our bed, now we have to rock with it.

“Better hope those 47 year old left-side infielders and DHs don’t regress!”
I didn’t see a smiley face or wink? In that case the Sox better hope that disaster of a catching situation and or their “47 year old” DH don’t regress ;) or :) whichever works best.

“The Yankees screwed up. They gave a contract to Burnett that he has surely not been deserving of as of yet”
Id have to disagree on that John. AJ was a big part of the 2009 championship team and I really dont see them winning without him there. That in of itself goes a long way into making the signing worthwhile IMO. Yes there are issues on the back end of the contract and he was bad last year but given what was out there and the SP free agent landscape in the years following AJs contract, it was the best the Yankees could do. Im not trying to parse here but saying they screwed up is a bit harsh, Im not sure what else they would have done with that money or roster spot any better than signing AJ.

I understand what you are saying Sam and really it has all to do with how much they were counting on him and what they were counting on him to do. If we are honest with ourselves we can all agree the Yankees thought they had a 1-2 punch in CC and AJ for the near future. That hasn’t happened. Even if all things break perfectly for AJ he’s at best the #3 on this team and that’s primarily because of the current roster. So they didn’t screw up signing him, they screwed up giving him the amount of money they did and setting the hopes on him being Robin to Batman. He’s a very high paid #3/4 in the AL East as difficult as that is to say it seems to be true.

I dont see it quite so simple as the yankees thinking they would have a 1/2 punch at the top with AJ and CC. I think that was what the yankees hoped for but Id think they were banking on at least a above avg pitcher to give them solid innings (more like a #3 type guy). He was better than that in the first year of his contract and worse than that in the second year. To be honest, the deal seemed reasonable to me when they signed him and if im gonna be consistent, I cant say that they made a mistake in offering it to him. Id say the same thing about Carl Pavano despite the utter disaster he was in the 4 years he was with the Yankees. I prefer to make my judgements of contracts based on the information about the guy at the time of the signing. When the Yankees inked AJ, I was happy albeit a bit worried about the back end of the contract. But I think that later part can be said about most MLB free agent multi-year deals.

I don’t want this to spiral, but…
AJ is the 8th (tied with Lackey)highest paid pitcher in baseball @ $16.5 per. How is it acceptable or believable that the Yankees thought he’d be a #3 when they signed him? Of the 7 other guys above him each was signed to be (Barry Zito) or is the ace or co-ace of their respective staffs. Again, I am not critiquing the signing, I am saying that at the time they had to have had higher hopes as to what AJ Burnett was going to be. That’s my point.
As for his first year I don’t agree that he was above average in year one. His ERA was above 4 and his K/9 was the lowest it had been in since 2006. While I will agree he was good in 2009 I cannot agree that he was even near an above average pitcher.

You can choose to worry about whatever you’d like…
What the Sox have is far from hype and they most certainly have more than just “one sure thing.” Think what you’d like about how good Beckett and Lackey are or aren’t, they still have 4 pitchers that can be classified as either average or above average. They also have 4 known commodities. I am not high on Lackey or Beckett, but all Beckett and Lackey have to be is OK when you have Lester and Buchholz. Both are “Ace” good. I’ll concede that Daisuke is a bit of an unknown, but what team has a sure fire sure bet #5? Let alone with the upside he has shown in the past. This is a very solid pitching staff.
No, I don’t think the Sox thought Lackey was a #2, but they also knew they had Lester and Buchholz. I am sure in their minds they signed him more for his innings, consistency and overall workhorse type capabilities. So I don’t see how signing Lackey compares to signing Burnett considering the Yankees needed him to be a #2, while the Sox just needed him to be a workhorse. Their needs were completely different. With that said if the Sox want to overpay for a workhorse that’s their business and when you have a full staff you can make monetary slip ups like that.

Agree with John 100%. The Lackey and Burnett signings may be identical on paper, but they were brought to their respective teams to fill completely different slots. At the time, everyone expected Burnett to pitch like a #2; the media, the fans on this site, and the Yankees organization itself.

“…you have Lester and Buchholz. Both are “Ace” good….”
pretty heady stuff…lester, ok…buck, hmm?…let’s see if he can repeat his 1 good full season…
“…At the time, everyone expected Burnett to pitch like a #2; the media, the fans on this site, and the Yankees organization itself. …”
right on ath…i sure expected more out of burnett, at least a #2…i understood the risk with him, but i heard and believed all the stuff about his potential if only he could keep his head on straight, stay focused, etc….i do think though that the sox expected more out of lackey, just like they did dice k…they were at least 2/3 guys with buck only up and coming…if flip-flopping that now after buck’s one good year makes everyone feel better, then that’s cool, but not reality…

I am not going to posit that Burnett was worth his contract – his 2010 season was so bad it can’t be said. But his 2009 season was darn fine, and he was a pretty good pitcher and an important innings eater on a team that won a championship. I hate that it comes off that I am defending AJ, but to an extent I am. He helped them, ably, win a title. And then he had a horrible, horrible year. Worth criticism. But also worth some praise, too.

Buchholz will likely regress, because if he doesn’t it will mean that he might be historically good. So he’s going to regress. But if he only regresses a bit, and not catastrophically, his numbers may still be at the “ace” level.
I guess this is the way it goes: first you have prove you are worth your #1 prospect status by perfoming at the MLB level. Then you have to re-prove yourself by doing it again. And then if you do it again after you do it again before people believe. When do people get convinced by the abilities? What a tough gig!!

“…When do people get convinced by the abilities? What a tough gig!!…
boy you can say that again sf…i mean can hughes win 18 games again?…i’m a skeptic, if only because he does need to re-prove himself again…i don’t know what the “standard” is, if there is one, but it feels like stringing together a couple or so good seasons, with a great one mixed in, or 2 out of 3 good ones, is an indicator that a player isn’t just a one-hit wonder…

I can’t believe I just saw SF defending AJ Burnett…good stuff!
I am not saying AJ Burnett has been worthless by any means. He added some real serious value to the 2009 team even if his ERA was over 4. The argument is: When the Yankees signed him they thought they were getting a #2 type and paid him accordingly. Since his signing he has not performed as such. That’s it.
DC,Buchholz will regress but he will still put up ace-ish type #’s. His xERA in 2010 was 4.15, his CTL was 3.5 so there was some smoke and mirrors, but end game is that he is still very, very good. HQ has him at a 3.75 ERA, 14-11, 149K’s/196inn/75BB.
As for Lester HQ touts him as a very legit Cy Young candidate in 2011.

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