A.J. Burnett & Javier Vazquez
Pretty sure I’m not going to get much of an argument on this one. After a solid enough year and some memorable postseason heroics in his first year as a Yankee, Burnett was just awful this season, pitching to a 5.26 ERA and 4.83 FIP over 186.2 IP. His 6.99 K/9 was also his lowest since 2001. Burnett is under contract for 3 more years, so getting him straightened out is going to have to be a major priority in the Winter and Spring. Does Kevin Long know anything about pitching?
As for Vazquez, while the Yankees were hoping he could at least reasonably approximate his stellar 2009 season as the team’s 4th starter, he was even worse than Burnett. When the wreckage settled after 157.1 IP, Vazquez was the proud owner of a 5.32 ERA and 5.68 FIP. It was easily the worst year of his career, but his contract is up and he most certainly won’t be a Yankee next year. What do you say we just forget the whole thing?
This one might sting the most, if only because it was so depressingly predictable. The Yankees hoped that moving the famously fragile Johnson to DH would help keep him healthy, but alas, a wrist injury ended his season after a mere 98 plate appearances, in which Johnson hit .167/.388/.308. The success of Vladimir Guerrero and Jim Thome make this one hurt even more.
Andy Pettitte’s Groin
I went back and forth on this one, because when Andy Pettitte pitched, he was very good this year. Very good. But one of the things you always worry about in aging players is whether or not they can stay healthy, and Pettitte missed most of the second half with the groin injury, ultimately being worth just 2.3 fWAR. The amount of time Pettitte missed as the rest of the non-Sabathia division starters struggled has to count as a big disappointment for the team, so Andy is on this list through no fault of his own.
Mark Teixeira’s Calendar
We’re all probably going to have to get used to Mark Teixeira’s slow starts, but apparently someone forgot to tell him when the calendar flipped from April to May this year. After Tex’s usually poor April, he hit just 2.80/.366/.475 in May and .250/.353/.460 in June. On July 8th he was hitting just .240/.350/.435. Tex would heat up from there on out, at least until a broken toe slowed him down at the end of the season, but that poor first half would be hard to overcome. Tex wound up hitting .256/.365/.481 for an OPS+ of 125 and 3.5fWAR. Those aren’t bad numbers, but they’re definitely below standard for Tex’s career. Indeed, like A-Rod and Jeter, this was the worst year of Teixeira’s career since his rookie season.
I went back and forth on where to put Granderson, but ultimately his post-KLong Texas Retreat tear shouldn’t distract from the fact that he was really bad for most of the season. After 117 games, Granderson was batting an anemic .240/.306/.420. Then came a series with Detroit, and Granderson took off, ultimately finishing the season with a .247/.324/.468 batting line. Those aren’t stellar numbers by any means, but adding in his strong fielding Granderson was still worth 3.6 fWAR. Still, Granderson was basically terrible (or hurt) for the first 3/4 of the season, and I have to think the Yankees had hoped to get more out of him.
Joba, Joba, Joba. When will we ever stop talking about Joba Chamberlain? On some level, Joba’s season wasn’t that bad. He pitched to a 4.40 ERA, but just a 2.98 FIP and 3.34 xFIP. His line drive and ground ball rates were both solid as well. In short, Joba was kind of the poster boy for relievers having bad luck this year. Still, it was a far cry from the guy who had a 171 ERA+ in 100.1 IP in 2008, and by the end of the year he was, at best, the 4th guy on the bullpen’s depth chart. That’s quite a fall for a guy who was either destined to be a solid starter or dominant reliever, depending on who you asked. And frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Joba is wearing a different uniform come Spring.
This one was just painful. Jorge Posada’s age caught up to him in a big way, limiting the number of innings he could catch drastically. Because of this, Francisco Cervelli got 317 plate appearances this season. That’s only 23 fewer times at the plate than Jim Thome got for Minnesota. To be blunt, this was a mini-disaster for the team, and they had better have some sort of plan to make sure it doesn’t happen again next year. Cervelli is fine as a back-up catcher, but he’s not going to cut it if Posada’s age is going to force him to do most of the catching. Save us Jesus Montero!