Daily Archives: September 25, 2012
Lineup vs. Twins:
Phil Hughes RHP
— The Yankees have activated both RP David Aardsma and OF Brett Gardner from the 60 day disabled list. Steve Pearce and Justin Thomas are not listed on the 40 man roster so it’s presumed that those two are the roster moves for Aardsma and Gardner.
It is obvious that the first goal for the Yankees is to lock up the AL East. The Yankees need to avoid that one game playoff at all costs because anything can happen in that game. Also, even if they were to win that game their rotation would be messed up going into the ALDS. It is pretty safe to assume that the Yankees will at least be playing in the wild card game, as it would take an epic collapse with an easy schedule for them to miss the playoffs completely. So, there are a lot of races in the other divisions that have a big impact on the Yankees having a successful playoff run.
In my opinion, there are two teams that the Yankees really do not want to see get into the playoffs. They’re the Detroit Tigers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Those two teams have given the Yankees issues in the past and are both loaded with talent. They have both underachieved this year, but are both much more scary than the White Sox, Orioles or A’s. The A’s, Orioles and White Sox are nice stories this year, but they really do not have the Yankees shaking in a potential playoff series.
Right now, Chicago is one game ahead of Detroit and the Orioles and A’s are two games ahead of the Angels. The Rays are only three games out, but it is a long shot now that they get in. Those races are huge for the Yankees as well as their own race. Their chances of making the World Series in a bracket that includes the Rangers, White Sox, and the A’s or Orioles are much higher than if the Tigers or Angels get in the playoffs. Detroit has three players in Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, and Prince Fielder that can carry a team in a short series. They also finally have a legit #2 starter in Max Scherzer to go along with Verlander. Their defense is their issue, but the Yankees don’t really have the speed to make that a big deal. The Angels still have great starting pitchers in Jered Weaver, Zach Greinke, CJ Wilson, and Dan Haren to go along with hitters like Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo. That is a lot of firepower. The A’s, Orioles and White Sox just don’t have that kind of talent and experience.
What do you guys think? Where do the Yankees stack up with the rest of the AL teams and which teams would you prefer to see in the playoffs?
Ichiro’s inspired performance over the last week has fans dreaming what he could possibly do with a full season in Yankee Stadium. The popular thought is that Ichiro’s decline the past 2 seasons has been more a matter of motivation, or lack there of in Seattle, than the fact that he’s a soon to be 39-year-old player whose game is built largely on speed. Ichiro has helped jump-start the team’s recent hot streak (10-2 over last 12) and has some thinking that this team’s starting lineup should be brought back intact next season. But what about Brett Gardner who has been the starting LF the last 2 years and the only Yankees starter 28 or under coming into this season?
Some are saying Brett has to prove himself all over again and are bringing up the same 4th Outfielder talk that dogged him his rookie year. Has everyone forgotten how stagnant and one-dimensional the Yankees offense has been much of this year? Or that the average age of the roster is more than 3 yrs older than any team in the A.L.? Or that the Yankees have had ZERO production from the bottom of the order this yr without Gardner?
This season, Yankees #8 hitters have a .293 OBP/.665 OPS & #9 hitters have a .307 OBP/.694 OPS. Without Gardner batting 9th as the second leadoff man, the bottom of the order has been station to station and stagnant. As a result, our best hitter this year – Derek Jeter – has only 57 RBI despite leading MLB in PA (697) and hits (207) and hitting .317 with RISP. Despite having a tremendous season, he is driving in Runs at the worst rate of his career with just 1 RBI per 12 Plate Appearances. It’s not because he isn’t hitting, it’s because he hasn’t had many runners on base and the ones that are on base are not good baserunners. Jeter has only had 331 runners on base in his 697 PAs. The MLB average for a player with 697 PAs should be 414 baserunners. The players Jeter has driven in the most this season (besides himself) are Martin, Stewart & Ichiro – 5 times each. By comparison, he’s driven in Gardner 3 times THIS yr despite Brett only playing 9 games! You think Jeter misses the opportunity to drive Gardner in?
Gardner has a career .355 OBP. This season only Jeter and Cano have better OBP than that (both around .364). Putting someone who gets on base like that in the 9-hole in front of Jeter will give this team the circular lineup they’ve lacked. Brett’s never going to be a HR hitter but he is one of top 5 players in MLB in pitches seen per PA, Stolen Bases, Defensive Runs Saved, UZR AND he is in his prime at 28. For a team trying to get younger,more athletic and lower payroll, Gardner is the only potential starter they have to fit that description. He’s still affordable at $2.8 M with a slight raise next yr. Ichiro will be 39 and made $17 Million this yr. If he wants to come back with the Yanks how much of a pay cut will he accept? Will he accept a 50% pay cut to $8.5M which is 3 times the cost of Gardner?
But this isn’t meant to disparage Ichiro, just to point out Brett is sorely missed. At this point in their careers, Gardner and Ichiro are very similar players with Ichiro getting the edge in hitting for average. Brett’s a .265 career hitter who should improve now in his prime while Ichiro has hit .277 over his last 2 years and will be 39 next yr. Brett gets on base more, steals more, hits for a higher OPS and plays better defense than a 39-yr old Ichiro. But IMO there should NOT even be a question of Brett or Ichiro. Brett is guaranteed a spot on this team next yr. The question will be Swisher or Ichiro?
I really can’t see Swisher staying. He’s talking a Jayson Werth-type about a $100 Million+ contract. When looking for a similar aged player with similar stats, Andre Ethier is a great comparison and he signed a 5 year, $85M deal with an option yr that makes it 6 yrs $100M if healthy. And that was an extension without hitting the open market. That is what Swisher will be looking for and expect some team to go AT LEAST 4 yrs $60M. With the new TV deal MLB just signed, every team in baseball gets double the national TV revenue and many others are copying the Yankees YES model and signing their own massive Regional TV deals. Teams are looking to SPEND with the exception of the Yankees who are looking to cut some $30-40 Million of their payroll. With that in mind and all of the long/lucrative contracts on the books, i don’t see the Yankees adding to that with Swisher. I expect Cashman to pull off a trade for a moderately priced young veteran OR look to bring a veteran in on a 1-year deal. He’ll offer Swish the 1 yr $13 Million qualifier which he’ll decline. It may come down to bringing Ichiro back to play his natural RF spot or possibly someone like Tori Hunter.
But what is your opinion? What should the Yankees OF look like next year given their financial constraints? If Ichiro is brought back, will it be at the expense of Brett, Swish or Granderson? Or can Ichiro be brought back to play the Raul Ibanez role to play vs RHP? Also, has Ichiro’s massive week changed your opinion of him that he is more than the player he’s shown the last 2 years in Seattle?