Link 4-20-2011: Who’s afraid of the Yankees?

Yeah, they’re on top of the division, but looking at the New York Yankees, they’ve got some issues to deal with. Beyond the Box Score sums it up rather well, but here are three bullet points:

The rotating rotation

Even with the solid performance of Ivan Nova, they were already down a rotation spot. Now with Phil Hughes not able to repeat his early success, the Yankees are stuck with some combination of Kevin Millwood, Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, and Andrew Brackman to fill 1.25 slots. Oh, and A.J. Burnett is the other starter. Forgive me for being underwhelmed. I don’t see any of these guys being able to produce a Hughes-like season, apart from Hughes. They need quality innings, and it’s not clear how many they can get out of this group.

Unsustainable offense

The Yankees have been on an offensive tear, thanks to a Major League-leading 29 home runs in 15 games, or a clip of two taters per contest. I know they’ve got firepower, but that’s a lot, even for them. Consider that last year, Toronto hit only 257, or 1.58 per game to lead all of baseball in that category. The Yankees are hitting .256 as a team, but have suffered from some poor BABIP (.256 as a team) so they will stand to get some more hits. But they will experience a power outage at some point, and it’s gonna hurt.

The other reasons their vaunted offense is going to suffer are named Jeter, Gardner and Swisher. Derek Jeter is really showing signs of age, and doesn’t seem to be capable of even a high batting average anymore. His defensive limitations will hurt the Yankees on the run prevention side as well. Brett Gardner, after a phenomenal rookie campaign, has come back down to earth. How can I say that in such a small sample? He hit just .233/.366/.332 after the All-Star Break last year, and the start of this season has been even worse. I think he’ll be a serviceable bat, and he’s a great fielder – but he’s not the .383 OBP guy that convinced Brian Cashman not to pursue Carl Crawford. Nick Swisher probably will not repeat last year’s season, and I’ll be surprised if he can stay healthy two years in a row. The health of others like Jorge Posada will also come into play over the year.

Contract and chemistry issues

It’s looking all but certain that CC Sabathia is going to opt out after 2011, which leaves New York’s rotation where, exactly? If the pitching becomes a season-long issue and this situation weighs down on them, it could cause some friction or even better, apathy in the clubhouse. It’s hard to play your best when you know your ace is not committed to stick around after the year.

The caveat

Cashman knows all of this (or will realize it very soon). Don’t think that the Yankees will rest on their laurels. I think they will go out and get the best starter they can trade for at the deadline, and it will help them push for the playoffs. Don’t be surprised if they manage to get someone like Wandy Rodriguez on board. And if the offense becomes an issue, they have the resources to address that too. A lot will depend on guys like Jesus Montero and Eduardo Nunez.

Don’t get me wrong, the Yankees will be more or less fine. I still expect them to win 90-93 games and win the wildcard. But that rotation doesn’t scare me in a short series. Not at all. Thanks, Cliff Lee.


One Response to Link 4-20-2011: Who’s afraid of the Yankees?

  1. redsoxtalk says:

    Of course right after I wrote this, the Yankees went on a tear, but they’re coming back to earth quickly, and I’m not the only one who thinks they’re overperforming:

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