Who do you like better?

  1. C.C. Sabathia, 28: 3.83/1.23/.242 in the AL last season, 116 ERA+
  2. A.J. Burnett, 32: 4.07/1.34/.253, 105 ERA+
  3. Chien-Ming Wang, 29: 3.70/1.29/.251 in 2006, 121 ERA+


  1. Jon Lester, 25: 3.21/1.27/.254, 144 ERA+
  2. Daisuke Matsuzaka, 28: 2.90/1.32/.213, 159 ERA+
  3. Josh Beckett, 29: 4.03/1.19/.260, 115 ERA+

Call me optimistic, but I'll take our guys.

27 comments… add one
  • I’m going to call you optimistic. You’ve cherry-picked half of Sabbathia’s season, and neglected the young ace of the Yankee staff, Joba Chamberlain, in this artificial 3-on-3 format. Right now, the Yankee rotation is CC, AJ, Wang, Joba, Hughes, with the possibility that Pettitte pushes Hughes to a swing slot, and even then with Kennedy, Aceves, and a handful of excellent prospects in the minors. If I were a Sox fan, I would be very concerned about that staff. The Yankee problem is its offense, and its defense up the middle. But if you want to fool yourself with this comparison, feel free.

    YF December 14, 2008, 10:38 am
  • If you’re going to cherry-pick Sabathia, why not just go all out and drop his first four starts? Then, you get him with a 2.16 ERA, a WHIP a hair over 1.00 and a BAA of .223, and the sample size would be just as meaningful as the one you picked.

    Benjamin December 14, 2008, 10:59 am
  • No, I’d say you’re being realistic. The yankees will have 2 new pitchers who have never experienced the pressure of new york. I remember when the Yankees signed the Big Unit, I heard the same drivel about how the red sox should be concerned. Come to think of it, I hear this every year.
    Not to mention Joba hasn’t proven his arm can take a full season. You want optimistic? That’s YF including Kennedy in a sentence with ‘excellent prospects’.
    The Yankees went into panic mode. Anyone that was paying attention knew they’d go crazy this off season. You don’t play the game on paper, and it’s nice to see the sox stay calm and let the Yankees have their moment in the sun. In december.

    thomas December 14, 2008, 11:08 am
  • Ditto what Ben and YF said plus arent there 5 starters in a rotation?
    I think the yanks have a clear depth advantage at SP now unless the sox sign lowe…

    Sam-YF December 14, 2008, 11:11 am
  • I’m not sure why I’m dignifying that, Thomas. But do keep in mind that the Yanks finished ahead of the Sox in the division when they had Johnson. But in any case neither CC nor AJ are thought to have anything like the prickly personality issues that would lead to a problem in NY. The key issues with the signings are health over long term. But you have not raised that issue. If the two pitchers stay healthy, and both are healthy now, and have been for a long time, they are extremely formidable, and will remain so. CC is, arguably, the best pitcher in the AL, if not the entire league.
    The Yankee farm system has excellent depth in pitching. This is a fact according to just about every source, and illustrated by how many players they lost in rule 5. Aceves proved a capable back end starter last season. Kennedy (and note that I did not call him an “excellent prospect”) has been lights out at every level below ML, and looks like he could easily fill a back-of-rotation/swing slot in the future.
    If you feel like trading in ignorance, go ahead. Do the ostrich thing. Place your head in the sand. No problem. Right now, the Yankee pitching staff appears to be very strong, though it is constructed at some risk.

    YF December 14, 2008, 11:45 am
  • Personally I don’t see the point of this post. It’s just antagonism.

    SF December 14, 2008, 11:55 am
  • That’s why they play the games…we’ll see!

    krueg December 14, 2008, 12:08 pm
  • The last bit is unnecessarily antagonistic, but the rotations are very, very close. With the Sox advantages at team defense and speed, I like our chances in pitching matchups. Of course, the Yanks have much better, and proven, bullpen. Should be great games all around even if the Sox don’t make a major move (and I’m not convinced they should in response).
    Otherwise, the Sox would also seem to have the better lineup right now. They’re better at five of nine positions – LF, RF, 2B, 1b, DH. Both teeams have injury concerns. Still, it’s very close especially if Posada and Jeter produce at their career norms.
    Hopefully the Sox don’t flush $200 million down the toilet for a 1B. But they could help themselves with a few arms and another bat. The Yanks probably just need another bat. Should be a great season especially with the Rays firmly in the picture.

    Dave SF December 14, 2008, 1:51 pm
  • Antagonistic to express a preference? News to me.
    Also, while Sabathia’s performance in the National League certainly counts, I’m not sure it’s as relevant as his performance in the AL from the same season. Or are YFs arguing that the pitcher with a 121 career ERA+ and a career high of 143 entering the season is more likely to perform to a 260 level instead of a 116? I believe he’ll outperform those AL numbers next year, too, but I also believe Josh Beckett will outperform his, so call it a draw. Were I wanting to cherry pick, I could pick CMW’s 2008 numbers, which are worse than his full-season ’07 figures, as well. I did not because I don;t think a handful of starts in an injury shortened season are relevant — certainly not as relevant as four months of starts against the league to which Sabathia is returning.
    I neglected the back end of the rotations because neither team has filled theirs out yet. The top three are set for each team. Who goes where in the bottom two are not. Will Joba be 4 or 5, depending on whether it’s Sheets or Pettitte? Will Wakefield retire? Will the Sox sign Smoltz, move Masterson, start Buchholz or Bowden or make a play for a Japanese starter? Not much way to compare yet.
    I do feel there’s a bit of piling on taking place, as there usually is after a team makes big moves in the offseason, that the Yankees have suddenly created the best rotation ever!!!!!!11!!one. Pointing out that the argument is much closer (never mind that Boston had the third best pitching staff in the division last year), and that given their ages and track records, I’d still prefer Boston’s top three is not antagonistic. To do so with an economy of words on a Sunday morning may be perceived so, but that was not my intent.

    Paul SF December 14, 2008, 3:00 pm
  • Your choice of Sabathia’s numbers in the AL are suspect Paul.
    CC had a bad month, followed by the best pitching in baseball in both the AL and NL for the rest of the season. Since 2004 CC has had progressively better and better seasons (in all categories); most of that time was spent in the AL.
    Josh Beckett has had 1 very good season in the THREE he’s been on your team. DiceK has only shown that he’s a very good 6 inning pitcher who seems to have the ability to throw more pitches in 5 or 6 innings than most people throw in a week’s worth of games. Lester had a very good year pitching to people who had really never seen him before.
    We’ll see when the season starts. Injuries have been the story for both teams the past couple of years.

    walein December 14, 2008, 3:47 pm
  • CC actually pitched more innings in the NL than in the AL last year, so I’m not sure why you would omit those statistics from your analysis altogether. (He started 18 AL games, 17 NL games, so that’s about equal, too.) I don’t think any YFs are seriously expecting a 260 ERA+ from CC, but it’s rather silly to act as though only AL statistics matter. His career high in ERA+, BTW, was the 162 combined from last year. It’s a bit dishonest to say that 143 is his career high. Good-faith arguments about the differences between the leagues and possible relation to ERA+ are one thing; ignoring 130 innings is quite another. Matsuzaka’s 159 ERA+ while leading the league in walks is arguably as much of an aberration as CC’s ridiculous Milwaukee ERA.

    YF lurker December 14, 2008, 4:01 pm
  • I’m not put-off by Paul’s post. After all, the question posed is “who do you like better?” Regarding it that way, I like the Yankees’ a guys a TON more. I’d want each of the Yankees’ three to date my daughter, if I had one, on alternating nights of the week with Sundays reserved for Joba. Except I don’t like AJ: I don’t trust Canadians or Floridians, or anybody who has ever played baseball for either state. Someone explain to me why we ever let Canadia become a state. And I don’t trust CC either, because people who use initials instead of their given names are hiding letters. What else are they HIDING? So I suppose that’s two strikes against AJ. And hyphenated names? Please, PICK ONE. Okay, I like Paul’s guys better based on my science-fiction daughter test. Except Jon Lester is vitamin-H deprived. And Matsuzaka is way, way too hard to fill in on a bubble test. Beckett threw for the Floridians… hmmm… I don’t like anyone.

    attackgerbil December 14, 2008, 5:04 pm
  • I guess Paul has set my expectations sky-high with his litany of insane and genius posts, and so when he put this abridged version out there I read it as an antagonism. I take Paul 100% at his word that it wasn’t intended as such, but as a professional scribe he must understand why it was seen as poking a beehive.

    SF December 14, 2008, 5:16 pm
  • Considering I’d take the Yankees three’s upside everyday of the week and twice Sunday, and considering the health risks of all three are remarkably similar, it’s an easy choice for me.
    Sabathia vs. Lester:
    Two lefties who provided ace-like performance last year (although Sabathia’s was simply on a different level), who also pitched a rather absurd amount of innings (although Sabathia wasn’t the one doing it for the first time, nor was he the one shooting by his career-high innings). An easy choice for the Yankees.
    Burnett vs. Beckett:
    Two remarkably similar pitchers with remarkably similar careers. Beckett is a slightly superior performer, with fewer attitude and health issues, and is several years younger. However, Burnett was healthy all of last season, and Beckett, who was supposed to be over his chronic injury problems, wasn’t. Beckett also had an extremely worrisome elbow issue in which he felt ‘numbness’, and was uncharacteristically terrible in the playoffs. This is not to mention his back problems which lasted throughout the season. Back problems are never, ever good. Despite all of this, I give the slight edge here to the Sox, simply because Beckett is a better pitcher when healthy.
    Matsuzaka vs. Wang:
    Okay, the only similarity between these two pitchers is their (very) general area of origin. Matsuzaka has much better strikeout stuff, but piss-poor control, and goes deep into a game only slightly more often than Jaret Wright. He also seems to be, bar none, the luckiest pitcher in baseball, and is a prime candidate for regression next season if he can’t figure out the plate (and it looks like that’s not going to happen any time soon). Wang has sterling control, less strikeout stuff than Ed Figueroa, but almost always can be counted on for more than 6, usually 7, and sometimes 8 or 9 innings. In a playoff game, I guess you’d want Matsuzaka for his strikeouts (although his numbers aren’t exactly the stuff of legends), but in the regular season, give me Wang every time. Health-wise, Wang had a terrifying shoulder issue back in 2005, and before in the minors, but was the picture of health until what can only be described as horrible Yankee karma happened to his foot rounding third base. Matsuzaka was perfectly healthy in 2007, but went down with a shoulder injury in 2008, which is never a good thing, for Matsuzaka especially, if you subscribe to the “so many bullets” theory. I call this even, with upside going to Matsuzaka since it’s easier to harness control than it is to harness strikeout stuff, but downside very strongly to Wang.
    But considering, if Pettitte signs, the next two pitchers in the Yankee rotation compared to the ones in Boston, I’m not sure I’d go making starting rotations the topic of discussion if I were a Sox fan, at least until April is over and the Yankees have already had 3 starts from Chase Wright.

    AndrewYF December 14, 2008, 6:54 pm
  • The only thing I take from this post is that Wang is the better #3 than Beckett.

    Nick-YF December 14, 2008, 7:46 pm
  • To ask the obvious question: What’s the Yankee 2009 payroll looking like?

    Hudson December 14, 2008, 8:35 pm
  • Somewhere between the GDP of the Marshall Islands and Tonga
    There’s a claim by Olney and Rosenthal that their payroll is less than it was last year even with the signings of Burnett and Sabathia.

    Nick-YF December 14, 2008, 8:40 pm
  • To ask the obvious question: What’s the Yankee 2009 payroll looking like?

    Hudson December 14, 2008, 8:58 pm
  • Nick. Pushing buttons.
    Here’s my thing: on any given night any of NY’s top three can beat any of Boston’s top three and vice versa.
    Let’s play the games, then judge.

    Brad December 14, 2008, 8:59 pm
  • Hudson, I did the calculations, and *right now*, it’s just about $180 million. Don’t believe writers who do voodoo math and say they still have $40 million to spend. They don’t.

    AndrewYF December 14, 2008, 11:49 pm
  • “To ask the obvious question: What’s the Yankee 2009 payroll looking like?”
    Currently the yankees 2009 payroll is actually down from last year. Olney had an article on this today. They could add Teixeria or Manny at $20 mil and still be under the 2008 team…

    Sam-YF December 14, 2008, 11:51 pm
  • Sorry Nick, somehow i glossed over your post just 2 above mine and missed that you said basically the exact same thing as me!

    Sam-YF December 14, 2008, 11:52 pm
  • They probably could add one of those players and still come in under…problem is who is the bench comprised of? So there’s till $ that needs to be spent on that.

    John - YF December 14, 2008, 11:57 pm
  • On CC and AJ:
    As a YF, I’d be wary of their health and their ability to survive in NY.
    As an SF, I’m wary of them being everything Cashman is paying them to be.
    Certainly either is possible.

    I'mBillMcNeal December 15, 2008, 12:34 am
  • Is this site not getting enough hits that you need to post this? =P

    Lar December 15, 2008, 9:16 am
  • Is this site not getting enough hits that you need to post this? =P

    Lar December 15, 2008, 9:17 am
  • i understand the purpose of the post…it’s logical to compare…we spend a lot of time doing that…it’s also logical, or human nature, to rationalize [want, hope, wish] that our guys are better, even when we know they might not be…that’s all paul’s doing here, making a comparison to convince himself more than it is an attempt to convince the rest of us, and he has that right as a contributor…i don’t really think he was being antagonistic, and i’m usually the first to call him on it when he is…i feel the same way about my new, still forming, pitching staff, as he does about his, much like i did last year, trying to convince myself that 3 basically rookie pitchers would lead the yanks to the promised land…i was wrong…as for this season, like brad says, we’ll play the games and see…

    dc December 16, 2008, 9:28 am

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