As a massive fan of the New York Giants, I occasionally find it hard to be objective when discussing the team’s success or lack thereof. However, even though I am just as big a fan of the New York Yankees, I have no qualms about being impartial where their future is concerned.
Perhaps this is a case of football versus baseball. Football feels like it takes effort and emotion and intangibles to succeed. Baseball, on the other hand, is mathematical and individualistic. Derek Jeter isn’t really retiring. He’s just finally removing his cataclysmic .603 OPS from the second hole in our lineup! Huzzah!
Because of this practicality of baseball, I didn’t really even get upset when the Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs. Now, they aren’t technically eliminated yet, but let’s not kid ourselves. It’s over. It has been for at least a week or so.
With Jeter leaving and the Yankees seemingly turning over a new leaf for 2015, I get brought back to that objective, heartless scan of this team. In 2014, they had one of the worst offenses I can ever remember the Yankees having…wait, what am I doing? I can just check this; the internet is on computers now!
The Yankees scored 650 runs last year. Prior to that, they had scored at least 789 runs every year this century! The last time New York failed to plate 650 runs in a season was in 1990, where they scrambled to a total of 603. 2014’s squad may even fall short of that mark if you can believe it. To put a nice bow around this, in 1994, the strike-shortened season when NY only played 113 ballgames, they still managed to score 670 runs.
This power outage is definitely unheard of in recent Bronx Bombing.
But what is going to be different in 2015 for the offense? Alex Rodriguez will be…something. I don’t know if “back” is the right phrase. Shortstop will be vacant. I was expecting/hoping it would be filled by Stephen Drew, but he’s been atrocious in his 100+ Yankee at-bats.
Catcher will still be Brian McCann, who has a below-replacement-level .288 OBP this year. First base will still be Mark Teixeira, who has a .318 OBP this year. The outfield will still be some combination of an aging Brett Gardner, an aging Jacoby Ellsbury, an aging Carlos Beltran, an aging Ichiro Suzuki and an aging Martin Prado, none of whom hit for much power. Gardner may be the best of the bunch at this point, which is quite a statement to make.
If the offense is going to suck for the third straight season and have no remnants of young talent to root for, the season will once again come down to pitching.
This would have worked well in 2014 if all our starters stayed healthy. But that’s the point really. None of them can or did.
What is going to be different in 2015 for the pitching? Tanaka is an elbow risk every time he throws. Nova is coming off of a lost season. Pineda hasn’t been able to stay healthy at all through his career. Sabathia will be 35 and coming off two horrid years, one where he pitched badly and one where he fortunately wasn’t able to.
An emotional, football-ish question to ask here is what do we have to look forward to next season? But I’m not going to ask that. That is not how I feel.
Instead, I word things this way: what can the organization do to make this team good?
I’m disappointed in our baseball team, but we knew this was coming since 2009 when the Yankees won the World Series. We knew the core of the batting order was locked up long term. We knew they would age at an uncontrollable rate and that ultimately we’d have old players struggling to produce. Here we are.
The key ingredient to all of this is pitching. The game has changed a lot since 2009 and pitching wins championships. The Yankees positioned themselves to have a pitching squad built this way, but as you noted injuries came and the batting order could not pick up ANY slack.
We may be in for a true rebuilding season in 2015, but with Derek Jeter retiring the Yankees will be looking for their next captain, the next face of the franchise. And they will find him, it’s just a matter of when, not if.
The good news is that there is still a lot to root for. I mean look at the Red Sox in 2013. Who in their right mind thought that team would be a championship squad? The Red Sox stunk in 2012 and they stink again in 2014. But last season they won it all. No matter how unlikely it seems right now, there is no reason the Yankees can’t do the same thing in 2015.
Give me some moves, what do you want to see happen this offseason to build a true winner?
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