Why the Yankees Will Miss the Playoffs | The Golden Sombrero Baseball Blog | MLB, Fantasy, College & High School Baseball News

Why the Yankees Will Miss the Playoffs

Recently we received a comment from a reader regarding our predictions, and I think the topic he brought up is probably worth its own piece.  The reader felt like I unfairly predicted that the Yankees would finish the year third in the AL East behind Boston and Tampa, who I predicted would both finish 2011 in the playoffs.  Before I continue, I would like to mention that I think the AL East will be a very tight division, particularly in the battle for second place.  The Yankees are one of the best offensive teams in baseball, and they certainly deserve a great deal of respect for that, but everything else they do is far from representative of a playoff-caliber team.

The Yankees lineup by the middle of the season will likely look something like this:

1. Brett Gardner

2. Nick Swisher

3. Mark Teixeira

4. Alex Rodriguez

5. Robinson Cano

6. Curtis Granderson

7. Jorge Posada

8. Derek Jeter

9. Catcher

Swisher’s ability to get on base and the dire need the Yankees will have to score runs will force his climb in the batting order, and Jeter’s decline as an offensive player will force his move downward.  The Yankees inability to get hitters out will make every run they put up on the offensive end far more valuable, and getting Jeter extra AB’s will prevent them from doing so.  Swisher has posted consecutive seasons with an OBP over .350, and Jeter posted a very soft .333 OBP in 2010.  His isolated power was a truly anemic 100, and he probably would not crack the Big League squad out of Spring Training if his name were something other than “Derek Jeter.” He is not fit to play shortstop or any other position on the infield, and his contract is a joke.

This piece, however, is not meant to focus on Jeter’s inadequacy.  He is certainly not alone or even the most offending culprit.  That title belongs to A.J. Burnett, who has watched his strikeout numbers decline very sharply in the last two seasons as his never stellar control refuses to improve.  Phil Hughes’ fastball has dropped off about 5 mph over the last three seasons, and he was barely reaching 90 mph during the spring.  At his age that either means he is hurt or has no interest in offseason conditioning.  There is no point in discussing the rest of their rotation because the No. 4 and No. 5 spots will be shuffled extensively all year.  Ivan Nova does not strike enough guys out to be anything better than serviceable, and Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia are interesting band-aids, but they certainly don’t address the Yanks’ lack of quality arms.

The Yankee defense is bad.  Really bad; it’s also old and not likely to be improving a noticeable amount.  No one in the infield made a positive contribution to the win column in 2010.  Even Cano was a below-average fielder last season despite his shining reputation.  The Yankees are a gorilla ball team in 2011 and will need at least two starting pitchers with track records to convince me that they will finish above either Tampa or Boston.

Boston is incredible.  Their offense and defense are better than the Yankees, and a rotation consisting of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett, John Lackey, and Daisuke Matsuzaka is both more defined and more capable than what the Yankees will use this year.  Tampa’s rotation of David Price, James Shields, Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis, and Jeremy Hellickson is probably the best one in the East.  It certainly has the most upside considering that none of their starters are in their thirties yet.    While the bullpen in Tampa is not as promising as it was last year, it is still the bullpen and is easily the most correctable aspect of any Big League organization.

The Yankees have a handful of generation-defining players in C.C., Gay-Rod, and Cano.  They have some players with bright futures like Gardner and Nova.  They have good veteran presence in Jeter, Mo, Posada, Granderson, and Swisher.  They seem to have good chemistry in the clubhouse as well, which never hurts, so I think that one more run is possible with this group.  They simply have done nothing to correct a sharply declining defense and pitching staff.  If anything, both of these aspects of the team declined further during the winter with the resigning of Jeter and failure to convince Pettitte and/or Cliff Lee that pitching for the Yankees was really all that cool.  Tampa is young and all of their key players are still either well within their prime years or in their growth phases.  They lost good players during the offseason, but they didn’t lose Longoria, Price, or Shields.  The Red Sox off-season was historically good.

I think it is possible that all three of the teams mentioned could reach 90 wins, but the lack of pitching and defense in New York is going to be too much for their aging offense to offset.  Additionally, an improved Orioles team and promising Blue Jays team might make the division even tougher.

10 Comments

  1. Luke meter says:

    Your a idiot. How is the defense bad? 3/4 of the infield won gold gloves last year, as a team they committed the fewest errors in baseball. Sure they have question marks as does very other team. You think Beckett and Dice k are sure things? Bucket won all of 6 games and had a almost 6.00 era. Then you call Arod gay rod? Reall mature. Stop making your stupid predictions and let’s enjoy som baseball. I do agree the east is going to be a dog fight

  2. JP says:

    If you’re going to call someone an idiot, please avoid multiple grammatical errors in your first sentence. Besides that, I wouldn’t even trust Buster Olney’s predictions for the AL East; it is a complete toss-up.

  3. Quailman says:

    Luke,
    First off, I heard Gay-Rod is headlining The Thunder From Down Under in Vegas during the off season. With the question of that douche’s sexuality having been finally put to rest, I would say that “fewest errors” is far less significant than Defensive Efficiency when evaluating a team’s defensive prowess (or even use PADE if you want to get more specific). Also, and I am not one to hypercriticize grammer and spelling, there comes a point where sentence structure and spelling are so heinous that it completely takes away from any point you are trying to make and just makes you look like a dumbass.

  4. DawnM says:

    I have to chuckle…I’m well aware that the season is very young but as of last night there were 4 teams in search of their first win, and low and behold guess who 2 of them were? I see that the Rays are bucking to start 0 and 4. Of course the season just started, but you have to admit it’s pretty funny. Imagine what the “at this pace” stat would look like! Also, what about the O’s? It seems that they are actually the wins leader in the AL East since Showalter took over but they just seem to have been forgotten, except for a tiny crumb tossed in there at the end. In conclusion, I have to admit I love, love, love Yankee haters, it gives all us Yankee fans something to laugh at.

  5. lab seat 50 says:

    i agree with Luke- “Your a idiot”

    just kidding about that part, although I’m serious when I say the Yanks will make the playoffs. This is a team that has made it every year, sans one, since 1995. Many of those seasons, the rotation has been questionable at best and they have entered the season with numerous question marks. Although you don’t agree, I feel the bullpen is important and the Yanks have one of the best.

    And although gold gloves are extremely subjective awards (75% of the infield won one), they did commit the fewest errors. Now I know you are saying, “their range sucks, check this advanced stat and this crazy numerical concoction”.. I don’t care. Based on the eye test, they are not that horrid defensively, IMO. Also, you forget to mention Russell Martin at Catcher, who is a significant defensive upgrade over Posada (or Posaa.. no D).

    *Oh http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/AL/2010-standard-fielding.shtml I dunno which fielding stats you like, but if these are some of the statistics that apply, then I see how Jeter rates pretty low. However, based on overall team rankings, there is definitely not a positive correlation between wins and many of those stats. Also, if you look at defensive efficiency New York ranked near the top of the AL

    And like I have said a few times, often times the pre-season favorite does not pan out. Big off-season signings don’t always work out, even when they seem like a sure thing. Who knows if the Sox will live up to expectations or if Tampa will ever find any offense. Hell, who knows if the O’s will ever lose a game? All I’m saying is that the Yanks are not nearly as bad as you make them sound and they don’t have any more question marks than any other team. If I was a betting man, I certainly wouldn’t bet against a franchise that has a knack for making the playoffs and one that has the resources to pull off a blockbuster deal at any time.

    holla at me

  6. Estefan says:

    does lab seat 50 want to write a few pieces for the sombrero? please?

  7. interesting blog. Bookmarked

  8. Mags says:

    Please tell me you are not a fortune teller on the side.
    If you are, you really suck at both jobs.
    Cano below average?
    Jeter would not make a major league team?
    Boston are incredible
    30 other crazy statements!
    All I can say is you really should start writing for a sit-com.
    Because everything you have written is utter drivel.
    Have you ever watched a major league game?
    Have you ever watched the NY Yankees?
    Maybe you learned everything you know about baseball fromwatching “The Sandlot”
    On second thoughts, you are just another sad deluded Boston fan.
    Now here’s a question
    Will the ‘ INCREDIBLE’ sux’s (sox) make theplayoffs?

  9. Tony Delsoft says:

    I just got a few questions.
    What does Crow taste like?.
    Jeter proved he’s not washed up, and Cano is most likely the best 2nd baseman in the league.
    All the papers talk about A Rod and his women, and now you call him Gay Rod, come on which is it?.
    Now I’m not a writer like you, so don’t waste your time on my grammar.
    I’m just a Yankee fan.
    Tony

  10. Mags says:

    NY Yankees 9 Boston Red Sux 1
    3 run home run to the guy that had this wonderful piece written by you about him

    “His isolated power was a truly anemic 100, and he probably would not crack the Big League squad out of Spring Training if his name were something other than “Derek Jeter.” He is not fit to play shortstop or any other position on the infield, and his contract is a joke.”

    So are you ever going to admit you were way off base?

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