Wrapping Up 2010: What Went Wrong

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?

Nick Johnson

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.

Curtis Granderson

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 Chamberlain

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.

Catching

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!

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

11 thoughts on “Wrapping Up 2010: What Went Wrong

  1. I thought about adding Logan, but he only pitched about 8 innings in April and May, and then he put up pretty good numbers the rest of the way. And almost all of those innings were low leverage spots. So it seemed like piling on to add that to me.

    Marte was a bummer, but I don't think it was totally unexpected either. If anything, I should have added Aceves to the list, but the bullpen was pretty good for most of the season on the whole, Joba's bad luck not withstanding.

  2. Brian

    I completely understand why Arod is getting a free pass for a lackluster season (by his standards and a guy making 32 million) and a playoff no show, he deserves it after last postseason and years of great production

    But looking forward, how is this not a bigger issue? He's on the hook for 7 more years and over 200 million, is both range bound and somewhat sloppy at third base… often gets hurt playing the field, has missed a chunk of games each of the past 3 years…. might need to spend 6 years as a full time DH beginning in 2012… and a huge portion of the fan base doesn't even like him

    This is going to be a very awkward situation for a good 5 years

    • I put A-Rod on the "right" list mostly because a large chunk of his drop-off can be attributed to abnormally low BABiP and HR/FB rates. Which is basically to say that A-Rod just got unlucky and would have put up better numbers with closer-to-normal numbers there. Plus, he was still worth 3.9 fWAR, which isn't too bad.

      But no, the contract sucks. Such is life.

  3. jay_robertson

    You know, looking at it this way, it has to be considered something of a miracle that the Yankees even got to the playoffs, let alone swept the Twins. Not arguing with any of your names – one could almost even throw in A-Rod, since he only put up "decent" numbers this year, and missed time due to old age himself. With Alex in your list, the Yankees only have 3 position players who didn't "Go Wrong." Leaving only Cano, Gardner, and Swisher as bright spots in the field, and CC and Hughes on the pitching staff.

    Amazing we got as far as we did. One can only imagine how good the team could have done, had they had even one or two other guys contributing.

  4. The fantastic pitching they got, for the most part, in the first half gave them a pretty good cushion. They didn't have a good second half at all.

  5. Sabrina

    The ironic part was there was a point early in the season that the yanks were winning all their series. You felt confident enough to say hey this would work. But after the second half. I was thinking we will be lucky if we can beat the twins. I am glad you pointed out that the grandy man wasn't grand all year. We tend to remember how players finished not started. My complaint all year was that our lineup was weak after the number five hitter came up. And Tex wasn't helping out in the top of the lineup. It finally showed against Texas that we had those same issues. Let's hope Yanks bounce back and get support to fix these issues.

  6. Mike Tad

    I'd like to point out some interesting stats I came across browsing Fangraphs:

    Gardy led all OF for 2010 in overall UZR (21.9) and UZR/150 (27.9). However, if we split Gardy's stats between LF and CF:
    LF (906 innings): UZR: 22.3 UZR/150: 39.7
    CF (305 innings): UZR: -0.4 UZR/150: -1.8
    Grandy was 7th among all CF in UZR (5.3) and UZR/150 (6.6) in 2010 (he was 11th in 2009).

    I also thought it was interesting that Gardy's awesome 5.4 WAR in 2010 put him 9th among all OF (as comparison Carl Crawford at 6.9 WAR is the 4th OF). I guess I am insinuating that Crawford wouldn't be that much of an upgrade for the Yanx OF with Swisher having a 4.1 WAR season (19th among OF) and Grandy still managing 3.6 WAR (24th among all OF) even with a terrible first 2/3 season.

    Also even with sub-par seasons, both Jeter and A-Rod managed to be 9th in WAR at their positions, Tex 10th among 1B, even Posada came in the top half of catchers at 13th. Cano of course topped 2B.

    It's pretty obvious but my point would be that the lineup is fine (the best in the league actually if you go by wOBA and runs scored, even with some "disappointing" seasons) aside from maybe filling in some bench spots. 11th as a team in UZR and UZR/150, so defense was solid. Pitching is the obvious upgrade needed with the Yanx as a team coming in the bottom 2/3 of relevant pitching stats (really only the starting pitching). A healthy Aceves should help shore up the pen while the addition of either Lee or Greinke (or even Kuroda) will surely help move the pitching toward the top 3rd of the league. I'm guessing (also hoping) Pettitte will come back and be solid as usual in the 3rd spot, and then you have Hughes as your #4 and AJ #5. Sounds like another 95-100 wins and another shot at the playoffs crapshoot to me.

    • Jason@IIATMS

      Now there’s some rational thought and analysis!!!

      • LarryAtIIATMS

        Hey! "Rational" is MY calling card!

        Agreed, Jason. Nice work, Mike!

    • adam

      They spent some time here earlier in the season trying to quantify how much of Gardner's offensive talent is sustainable. We won't really know that for some time, unfortunately…

    • moooose

      I totally agree. Disappointing is ok when the ceiling for a lineup is the best ever in the history of the sport. Will they ever hit that ceiling? Obviously not. They're hovering around the chair rail. Point is, if every guy in pinstripes had a career year in 2011, they'd win 130 games. Disappointing works fine in that context.

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