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January 23, 2008

Beware The Emerald City?

Via Paul White's ORGANIZATIONAL REPORT on the Yankees in Sports Weekly:

Two years ago, when New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman signed a three-year contract, he said, "We have three years to try to deliver a championship and try to rebuild the system."

With a year left, Cashman can claim to have succeeded on one count, but it's not the one that seemed more likely back then.

They're still the Yankees — as Cashman says, "still the Steinbrenner Yankees" — with the offense that scored 76 more runs than any other team in the major leagues in 2007. They have the game's best player in third baseman Alex Rodriguez and arguably its best leader in team captain and shortstop Derek Jeter.

They have been in the playoffs 13 consecutive seasons, but is the streak in jeopardy? Possibly, with the Boston Red Sox having ended the Yankees' run of nine division titles in a row on the way to a second World Series win in four years and an improved Detroit Tigers team combining with the Cleveland Indians for a potent 1-2 punch in the AL Central.

Those three teams will likely make winning the AL East or repeating as the wild-card team more difficult for the Yankees.

It's an interesting thought: That the teams who Yankees might have to worry about this season are the Indians and Mariners (in a fight for the Wildcard). This assumes that the Red Sox, Tigers and Angels will be as good as people say they will be in 2008.

So, what do you say Yankees fans, are the M's and Tribe no match for New York? Or, does Seattle have a leg up on this since they get to play the A's and the Rangers 38 times this season?

Posted by WW Staff at January 23, 2008 03:19 PM


Tigers are getting too hyped at this point. Their "success" is still all on paper. They seem to be getting too much praise for signing a great hitter and a so-so pitcher. You can't ignore what the team did in 2007, and they weren't very good. I still think their pitching, after Verlander, is one big question mark. And I don't see how bringing an NL pitcher with a 5 ERA and command issues over to the AL is an improvement. Even if Willis becomes the guy who nearly won a Cy in the NL, I don't think he's a dominant AL pitcher. He's basically a clone of his teammate Nate Robertson: an average lefty innings-eater.

I seriously doubt Mags has anywhere near the season he did last year, Sheffield keeps getting hurt, and the team emptied out its farm system to get its new third baseman.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 23, 2008 03:36 PM

How'd the Mariners get into the conversation? Seattle scored 794 runs and gave up 813 (Pythag Wins=79). Off the top of my head, I can't think of anything they've done this winter to make them a significantly better team than the one that slightly overachieved to 88 wins.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 23, 2008 04:36 PM

Maybe I have a horrible short-term memory, but didn't the Yankees finish 2 games behind the Red Sox and Indians for the best record in baseball. Considering that all three teams haven't made significant additions, why would anyone be foolish enough to think that one is in a class above the others?

As for the Tigers, I agree with Baileywalk. The Tigers have not improved much...sure, they could win the division, but I also wouldn't be shocked if they were a .500 team.

Posted by: williamnyy [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 23, 2008 04:37 PM

Boston is severely overrated. I'm not worried at all.

Posted by: Rich [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 23, 2008 06:55 PM

I think the hype around the Yankees having to be worried is way overblown. As for the other teams, Detroit is still relying on Justin Verlander and a lot of unknowns. Bonderman imploded in the 2nd half of last season and the rest of the rotation is Nate Robertson, Kenny Rogers and Dontrelle Willis? Plus, Zumaya is out for awhile and their closer is Todd Jones. They had better score a lot of runs and like the guy above said, no way does Ordonez or Granderson for that matter have a year like they did in 2007 and how injury free can Sheffield stay? They have Jacque Jones in LF too which isn't intimidating in the least.

The Mariners are severely overrated due to their negative run differential from last season. They were like 8 or 9 games above Pythagorean so regression to the mean would indicate that they are coming back to earth.

The Indians are interesting, but at the end of the day, their rotation problems aren't anything to scoff at. Carmona is a soft tosser. He had a really low K-Rate (5.7K/9IP) last season and he's coming off a 230IP season (including playoffs). The most he ever threw in the minors is 174 so maybe there will be some residual fatigue. Sabathia might be in this category too seeing how he threw 256IP (including playoffs) whereas before the # of innings the threw the most in a season was 210 back in 2002.

Plus look at the other arms Cleveland brings. Paul Byrd, Jake Westbrook and one of Aaron Laffey, Jeremy Sowers or Cliff Lee? That's a pretty weak backend.

The Angels are on an island out in the West and you can't count out Boston, but I don't see Cleveland, Detroit or Seattle being major players in preventing New York from another trip to the postseason. It's entirely possible for them to get the Wild Card again, but the AL Central should be a blood bath again and that should hurt Detroit & Cleveland at the top.

Posted by: Baseball Savant [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 23, 2008 07:40 PM

~~~How'd the Mariners get into the conversation?~~~

Related, this is an interesting read:


Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 23, 2008 10:25 PM

The Tigers look great on paper but in reality they don't look that impressive.Dontrelle will not become that much better in the AL,although Cabrera will be a spark in the lineup.Anyway,All the teams mentioned, including Toronto are competing with the Yanks because of their relative weaknesses(untested young pitching,no clear 1a ace,and mediocre bridge to the closer).As for Red Sox,not being that great who won the World Series last year?The Toledo MudcatsMaybe their offense is not the best in the AL East ,but their pitching.....especially their starting pitching is exemplary.Although,it would be interesting to see Boston have the amount of injuries that Toronto and the Yanks sustained last year and do anything either(as a counterpoint).I remember that the Jays came in second in 06,when Varitek went down so anything can happen as well!

Posted by: butchie22 [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 24, 2008 04:32 PM