I do not know who David Sabino of SI.com is, but he finds a way to fit so many of my pet peeves about the national media’s perception of the Yankees into one article that I have to assume that he wrote it to bait Yankees fans into jumping off the nearest bridge. It comes from SI’s spring training primer. Let’s tear this one apart, FJM style:
Winter grade: A-
The Yankees didn’t blink while signing three of the top five free agents on the market — A.J. Burnett, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira — for a whopping $423.5 million because Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, Carl Pavano and Pudge Rodriguez were wiped off the payroll. GM Brian Cashman also re-signed Andy Pettitte to a one-year incentive-laden deal to shore up the back of the rotation while bolstering the bench by trading Wilson Betemit and prospects for versatile, switch-hitting Nick Swisher. Another quality arm or two in the bullpen (in addition to the re-signing of lefty Damaso Marte) to help set up for Mariano Rivera would’ve earned the full “A.”
There are valid reasons to give the Yankees an A- for the offseason. You may not have loved the Burnett signing, or might have thought that the club needed to address CF. But to criticize not supplementing the bullpen when it was in the top 5 in baseball last season shows how misinformed national media members are. They read a list of names, and if they do not sound entirely familiar, they pass judgment without consulting the numbers. With the Yankees returning the same bullpen while adding more options by way of the minor leagues, their bullpen should be a strength.
Key question: Are the Yankees better with Joba Chamberlain as a starter or an eighth-inning stopper?
The Yankees are determined to stick the organization’s best arm at the end of the rotation instead of having him be one of the AL’s top setup men, but is that the best role for him? In 49 career relief appearances, Chamberlain has a 1.53 ERA with an opposition batting average of .185 and 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings. However, as a starter with at least four days of rest between outings, his numbers get pedestrian (4.01 ERA, .267 opp. avg., 8.7 K/9). A stacked top quartet and a handful of fifth-starter candidates (Phil Hughes, Alfredo Aceves, Humberto Sanchez, Jason Johnson) would afford New York the luxury of having Chamberlain and Rivera essentially douse offenses after the seventh inning.
Arggghh!@!!!!@@! When will this idiocy end? This cannot be a key question, being that it is not a question at all. Joba is a starter until he proves he cannot handle it. They are better with him as a starter than as a set up guy pitching 3-4 innings a week. And I do not know how this writer parsed Joba’s starting numbers to make them look pedestrian, as his stats as a starter were a 2.76 ERA, .245/.319/.322 against, and a K/9 of 10.2. Furthermore, listing Humberto Sanchez as a legitimate starting option shows a lack of familiarity with the Yankees and their roster.
Scout’s take: “I’m sorry, I just don’t see it: This is not a championship team. CC’s performance in big games has to be a concern; I don’t have much confidence in him in the big spot. You know Burnett’s going to make a couple trips to the DL. The defense behind the pitching is still a horror show. With all this stuff going on with A-Rod, getting Teixeira was even bigger for them, because a lot of their problems last year were actually with scoring runs. [Jorge] Posada is such an important part of what they do, they need him to somehow stay in the lineup. They’re going to struggle to get into the playoffs.”
Firstly, this portion of these previews always crack me up. Who is this “scout,” and what exactly makes his opinion worth more than the writer’s, or for that matter, mine? The fact that he discards the Yankees as a contender due to 25 bad innings from CC Sabathia (ignoring the pitching down the stretch last season, when every game was a playoff game) while assuming multiple injuries to Burnett (not a ridiculous notion, but stating it as fact seems pretty silly) makes his opinion seem fairly meaningless to anyone doing a reasoned analysis of the Yankees. The defense, while still not great, should be significantly better, as they jettisoned two of the worst fielders in baseball and have added at least one Gold Glove caliber player. They will certainly struggle to make the postseason, but not because “they are not a championship team.” There are three contenders in one division, and at least one will miss the postseason.
In closing, Mr. Sabino, if this article was intended to goad people like me into a frenzied rant, touche, it was a well executed ruse. If not, try to do a bit of research and find a credible scout next time.
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TagsA.J. Burnett Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Bartolo Colon Boston Red Sox Brett Gardner Brian Cashman Bullpen CC Sabathia Chien-Ming Wang Cliff Lee Curtis Granderson David Robertson Dellin Betances Derek Jeter Francisco Cervelli Freddy Garcia Game Recap Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Javier Vazquez Jesus Montero Joba Chamberlain Joe Girardi Johnny Damon Jorge Posada Manny Banuelos Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda New York New York Yankees Nick Johnson Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano Red Sox Robinson Cano Russell Martin Tampa Bay Rays Yankees