July 31, 2021

Clearing The Bases

October 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Being a Yankee fan, it’s not easy watching the League Championship Series and not feel like the Yanks should be there.    Not that I thought they were the best team in the American League, I have been picking Texas to make the World Series for most of the season, but I did believe they were a better team than Detroit.  All that being said, the Yanks are done, lets perform an autopsy of each position on the team.

Starting Pitching:  CC Sabathia is the ace of the staff and he certainly pitched like it for a majority of the season, but he did struggle in September and October.  Now CC wanted to get in better shape this season, and we all heard him state that he used to eat two boxes of Captain Crunch a day, well by the end of the season it looked like he added a third box.  This has to be a concern for the Yankees as he can opt out of his contract five days after the World Series.  Is he going to get more money, depends on how you look at it.  Right now he has four years and $92 million left on his contract.  It seems unlikely that he can get more per year, but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that a couple of years at the same rate could be added on.  Bottom line is CC isn’t going anywhere.

Ivan Nova was a Godsend, without him the rotation may have fallen apart long ago.  His upside is that of an innings eater number two pitcher, and the Yanks would love that.

AJ Burnett is an enigma.  We all know he has the physical ability to be a top pitcher, but not the mentality, but with two years and over $30 million left on his contract, it’s unlikely that he will be going anywhere unless the team is willing to eat a good portion of that contract and/or take on another team’s bad contract.

Phil Hughes had the mysterious arm injury that put him on the shelf for over a month.  We have still yet to hear about the exact nature of this injury.  He did pitch better in the second half, but still never really found those missing MPHs on his fastball, still he will be in the rotation next season.

Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia were nothing less than fantastic for New York, giving the team and manager Joe Girardi more than could have even been asked for.  That being said it is unlikely that either one would be back next season.  The Yanks only have one spot in the rotation up for grabs, and that may come down to one of their rookie pitchers (Manny Banuelos or Delin Betances) or a free agent signing (CJ Wilson).

First Base:  It’s hard to complain about 39 HRs and 111 RBIs as the run production was certainly there, but a .248 batting average is nothing to be proud of.  His .835 OPS was the lowest of his career.  That being said he is more the answer than the problem and is still a gold glove caliber first baseman.

Second Base:  The only question here is how much does Robinson Cano get when contract time rolls around.  He is the Yanks best all around player and one of the few who actually hit with RISP versus Detroit in the Wildcard round.

Shortstop:  Derek Jeter seemed to have two different seasons.  Before his hamstring injury when he couldn’t  seem to hit anything hard, and after the injury where he looked similar to the player he used to be.  The Yanks will have to live with Jeter and his shortcomings as he is signed for two more years with a player option for a third.  Sure he has limited range at short and next to know power at the plate, but the Yanks don’t seem to want to push him out, so SS is where he will remain.

Third base:  Now this is a problem.  ARod looks like a player who is wearing down, and wearing down in a big hurry.  Perhaps you believe this season was a disaster purely because of the injuries  (hip, knee, thumb) and a restful off-season will put him back in the groove for a 30/100 2012.  I think it’s safe to say you would be in the minority here.  He has six years left on his contract that pays him over $27 million a season, looks like this will certainly be an albatross around the Yankees’ necks.

Outfield:  Nothing to complain about with Curtis Granderson who performed better than anyone could have imagined.  It did look like he tired as the season wore on, but still the Yanks will take everything he gave them.

Brett Gardner is what he is, a fantastic defensive leftfielder, who should be playing center, that has speed to burn, but will go through offensive periods where he doesn’t look like he can hit a beach ball.  He should be platooned against the tougher left-handers.

Nick Swisher probably catches a break in that this is a week free agent class and the Yanks will probably pick up his option and keep him in right field for another season.  Swisher is a fun loving guy, but he did get off to an incredibly slow start this season and pretty much disappeared during the playoffs for a second consecutive season, but there just isn’t much out there.

Catcher:  Russell Martin provided the Yankees with stability behind the plate, something they had been looking for when they took the catcher mitt away from Jorge Posada (who has most likely played his last game in a Yankee uniform).  Martin is arbitration eligible and although would probably like a long-term contract will have to settle for another one-year deal from the Yankees who have Jesus Montero, Austin Romine, and Gary Sanchez in the catching pipeline.  Montero at the very least will be the Yankees full-time designated hitter next season, but could also catch 40 games or so if he can prove to not be a liability behind the plate.

Bullpen:  The strength of the team.  Mariano Rivera just never seems to get old, sure he has lost a couple of miles off of his fastball, but he is still one of the top closers in the game and a sure fire first ballot Hall of Famer.

Rafael Soriano was signed to be the 8th inning guy, but a slow start and than an arm injury opened the door for David Robertson who proved he could more than handle it and may be the closer in waiting.  Robertson may have the best “stuff” in the bullpen, if he ever develops pin point control, look out.

Joba Chamberlain underwent Tommy John surgery early in the season and should be fully recovered sometime early in 2012.

All in all not a bad season, sure the team had problems hitting in the clutch, but you can’t teach that, the players just have to do it.  The Yanks will be looking for a pitcher in free agency, but there just isn’t much out there.  They would like CJ Wilson, but he has stated that he would like to stay in Texas, which means the Yanks may have to overpay severely to acquire him.

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