Nothing Wrong With Doing Nothing for Yankees

The Yankees did not sign Cliff Lee. They never even tried to sign Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford. They did not trade for Zack Greinke.

They would not pony up the money for Bobby Jenks and appear to have little interest in doing so for Rafael Soriano.

So what gives? There is a great deal of anxiety in the Yankee fan-base, who are quick to label the Yankees ┬áthe “losers” of this offseason.

What everyone seems to be forgetting is this: the Yankees won 95 games last year. The Yankees and Rays were unquestionably the best teams in baseball over the course of the entire season. ┬áNeither team’s season ended the way they would have liked, but the playoffs are a fickle thing. Every year you just try to get there and then anything can happen. Surely, the Giants didn’t make a big splash in last year’s offseason and the postseason turned out alright for them. There is little a team can do to ensure postseason success. The whole point is just to get to the postseason.

So what exactly is wrong with the Yankees bringing back a very similar team to last year? Sure, the Red Sox have gotten better, but the Rays have likely gotten worse. Plus, how many Yankees had a down year last year?

Well, it’s actually easier to start by looking at who had a good year: Brett Gardner, CC Sabathia, Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano, Mariano Rivera. That’s pretty much it. For Rivera and Sabathia, 2010 didn’t represent a career year as much as business as usual. Cano had the best year of his career, but considering his age and development, there is no reason to think he can’t duplicate it. Swisher and Gardner could quite possibly be due for some regression, though they should still be productive players.

Just about every other player stands to improve. Derek Jeter had the worst year of his career and if he doesn’t have a better 2011, the Yankees will be regretting that 3-year deal pretty quickly. Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira were both good in 2010, but should see their numbers return closer to their normal elite levels. AJ Burnett could only get worse if he shows up to spring training without his throwing arm. Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain are still extremely young and will improve. Curtis Granderson finally started to put things together in the 2nd half and should have a better season in 2011.

Yes, the Yankees want to get younger, but you don’t accomplish that by signing the Carl Crawfords of the world. Crawford may be younger than many of the Yankees regulars, but he’ll be old by the end of a 7-year contract. So will Cliff Lee and Jayson Werth. Giving out those kinds of deals is why the Yankees do have an old team. They need to let their young guys play. That means Jesus Montero, Hughes, and Joba. That means not tying up every spot on the roster with a veteran, so they can start calling up some of their young talent in the minors. That means having Ivan Nova as the 5th starter isn’t the end of the world. Sure, the Yankees could go and find a more experienced starter – but why do that now when they could just as easily do it during the season?

If Andy Pettitte doesn’t come back then yes, the Yankees will probably try and acquire a starter before the season starts. Right now though, it’s still December and they have plenty of time. Plus, the keys to a successful 2011 season for the Yankees are likely on the team already. Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don’t make.

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15 Responses to Nothing Wrong With Doing Nothing for Yankees

  1. Canmandan says:

    Sometimes the best move is the trade or deal you don't make. When they needed the arms they gave Hughes a chance and a year later he won 18 games. If Andy is in the fold for one more year they only need to replace Javy. It is time to bring people like Nova along and see what they can do.

  2. Bronx Knight says:

    Brian, I hereby declare you my hero of the day. I've been a little bummed about the Yankees getting jilted at the altar by a different free agent every other day. This article rightly breathes a little bit of optimism back into the mix.

    OK, I'm still bummed but I feel a little bit better.

  3. I really want a pitcher to give us a better rotation. I know youngsters may be the way to go, but experience is something I like better. We don't know if Andy is coming back so signing or trading for someone for a 4th or 5th starter would be great in my opinion.

    • Eric Communiello says:

      In my opinion, the 5th starter is the most overrated position in baseball. Teams constantly rotate the back end of their rotations because of injuries and ineffectiveness. The Yankees would be better suited spending that money elsewhere (perhaps the bullpen). Having said that, if they could sign Millwood to a cheap one year deal, the added insurance couldn't hurt.

      I do like the young guys though. Nova showed he has the potential to be a quality back end starter and definitely deserves a chance. I also like Hector Noesi a lot and think he should be given a look.

  4. smurfy says:

    "Neither team’s season ended the way they would have liked, but the playoffs are a fickle thing."

    Brian, I don't differ with you on your main points: developing youth is the only way to get younger. We cannot win every year, the leagues will quit on us if we could. But the best way to set up a championship team with staying power is by taking some risks with some young players to energize experienced stars, and showing some patience.

    I don't know why the Rays fell short, but the Yanks seemed not subject to fickle playoffs so much as team batting fizzle in response to team pitching fizzle. I think there is a strong feedback dynamic, and our horses were played out. The injuries didn't help, though, ficklewise.

    • Brian Burkhart says:

      What makes the playoffs fickle is exactly what you're describing: the Yankees pitching seemingly fell apart against a hot Rangers lineup and the deep, patient Yankee lineup couldn't do anything. Yet, both the hitting and pitching looked just fine the series before against Minnesota. The "fizzle" you describe could happen to anyone given a small sample size. It's a mistake to overreact to just a handful of games.

    • smurfy says:

      To give an example: ALCS game 1, CC was bombed (while we were worried about AJ and Joe knew Pettite was hurting) and we were dead in the water till Moseley's brave three? innings, which spurred Gardy to start that glorious rally. (I hope I remember right, but there were serious emotional dynamics afoot, anyway.)

      • Brian Burkhart says:

        Right, crazy things happen in the postseason. The Yankees aren't going to get rid of CC (or keep Moseley for that matter) because of 1 performance. Yet oftentimes fans want to make decisions based solely on playoff games.

        • smurfy says:

          Yeah, I know a fella who doubts Swish because he didn't hit well for a second straight playoff season. But here I was thinking that the Yanks were stopped because they knew their pitching was not there. Remember that long August, and after mid=September, they were flat. They looked fine in the Minny series, but maybe the Minny pitching was weaker than ours.

          CC was okay, but his changeup had disappeared. Andy was hurt. AJ was a funky mystery and Phil lost his dazzle after midyear. Javy had lost all winning ways. My point is that the team knew their pitching was not strong, and that caused their hitting morale to flag.

          That's why it seemed to me a fizzle year, rather than blaming it on fickle. The Giants had true joie de vivre, maybe because of that dandy pitching that spurred them to hit in the clutch?

  5. Bill Boylan says:

    Some guys, like Pettite, Schilling, Clemmens always seem to be very tough in post season. Others like CC and Lee run hot & cold. Happens with hitters also.

  6. Clemens had some stinkers in the playoffs. Schilling had a few too.

  7. Tanned Tom says:

    I agree with the tone of the article, but must point out how bad the Granderson deal was. Would the team have been better with Granderson, or with Kennedy (194 innings, 3.84 ERA) AND Jackson (.293 average, great defense)? Yes they would have missed Granderson's power, but the lack last year was starting pitching. You never trade 2 starters for 1 unless that 1 is an elite player, and I don't mean Carl Crawford (with his ordinary OBP), I mean a game changer.

    This is a turd of a deal that could haunt the Yanks for years.

    • Turd of a deal? You really think Kennedy's ERA would be any better than 4.84 in the AL East? I thought you didn't like AJ Burnett? Kennedy wouldn't be much better.

      If you are going to overvalue mediocre players then and maybe only then can you call the Granderson trade a bust. But out of all the players involved in that deal Granderson was easily the best one including upside going forward.

  8. Mindkind says:

    Ian Kennedy, Austin Jackson, Michael Dunn, Aroldys Vizcaino and Phil Coke, who will be given a chance for the starting rotation next year! Damn that was a bad offseason. Those trades hunt my dreams!

    • Out of all of those players, none of them are really worth worrying about. Maybe Vizcaino, but he had a serious injury last season and is by no means a sure thing.

      Kennedy is a mediocre National Leaguer who WOULD NOT be a sure thing for the Yankees rotation next year if he were still here. They may have as many as 8 minor leaguers who could be as good as him that will be in the majors by 2012.

      Ajax is good, but has 200 strikeout potential.

      Coke is a lefty reliever who is no better than Pedro Feliciano.

      Michael Dunn is just bad. Can't throw a strike at all.

      These are not players to be upset about.

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