March 31, 2005


2005 Major League Baseball Preview - The Yankees (TIM MARCHMAN, March 31, 2005, NY Sun)

Every year I preach that the Yankees are about to collapse, and they never do. I'm sticking with my preaching - the Yankees are about to collapse, and don't look like a 90-win team to me. They're horrible defensively, old and injury-prone, and boast a lineup consisting of five superb players and four mediocrities.

This strangely built $200 million team is as thin as a dime. I count nine potential Hall of Famers on the roster, but no one else on the team is very good, with a few exceptions like Hideki Matsui and Tom Gordon. The contrast with the Red Sox, who have three superstars and 22 solid players, is stunning. The Yankees have no sixth starter, no credible reserves in the infield, the outfield or behind the plate, and several regulars who could be among the worst at their positions in baseball.

The Yankees' underlying statistics were those of an 89-win team last year, and it's not clear that they got much better over the off-season. The real improvement, of course, was bringing in ace Randy Johnson, who represents a marked improvement over Javier Vazquez. But I'm not clear how that does more than offset the terrible Tony Womack and the continued disintegration of the team defense. This team looks to me to be clearly inferior to the Red Sox.

The Sox have just two problems, only one of which can be taken care of in season. Unless you're willing to bet a World Series trophy that David Wells is going to be healthy in October they don't really have a number 2 starter to plug in behind Curt Schilling. They'll need to acquire someone by the All Star break and on a championship team the #2 is generally a second #1 so they're usually scarce. The other problem is that neither David Ortiz nor Manny Ramirez should ever be allowed to play defense, but they obviously can't both DH. Playing Manny in Left costs them a couple games a year and playing them both in the World Series is a recipe for disaster.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 31, 2005 7:11 AM

I can't for the life of me understand the decision to get Womack.

However, if he doesn'tperform, the Yanks will just get someone else midseason. They have at least one minor leaguer they could plug in too.

Frankly with Tino at 1st it's not clear that they're any worse this year defensively than they were last.

Their problem, like that of the Red Sox, is whether their starting pitching will hold up. But unlike the Red Sox who essentiually traded Pedro for Wells, the Yanks got better this offseason in that department, and it was the bullpen not the starters that cost them the Sox series anyway.

As for the silly so-called pythagorean estimate of how many games a team wins that Marchman goes by (which relies on runs scored and runs against) -- the Yanks have consistently overperformed by 10 games that statistic for the 10 years Torre's managed the teams. When will expectations adjust?

I'll go on record that the Yanks will win more than 100 games, and will take the division. Whether they win it all will depend on how healthy Randy Johnson is going into the playoffs.

I'll also predict -- tho this may be just wishful thinking -- that the Red Sox will struggle to take the wild card in the face of OJ's resurgent Mariners (and assorted other contenders in the AL West). In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see them not make the playoffs. 89 wins seems their plateau this year, not the Yankees'.

In other news the White Sox will once again collpase mid to late season, and the Cubs will once again disappoint, based on the fact that Dusty Baker doesn't believe in on -base-percentage and overworks his starting pitchers.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at March 31, 2005 9:33 AM

If Randy Johnson loses on Sunday night, odds are the New York Post's Steve Serby will declare the Yanks' season over and possibly jump out the window of the News Corp. building, while over at the Daily News, Mike Lupica will sneer at the team's big spending ways for non-productive players and somehow tie George W. Bush and Social Security reform into the team's character flaws.

Posted by: John at March 31, 2005 6:52 PM