So what gives? There is a great deal of anxiety in the Yankee fan-base, who are quick to label the Yankees the “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. Neither 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.