The second annual IIATMS roundtable

1. A general stat line for the Yankees in 2011: number of wins, finish in A.L. East, how they’ll do in the playoffs (including the identity of the team they play when they win the WS or are eliminated).

Jason: 90-72.  A wildcard finish seems likely as Boston’s offense looks fantastic. Hard to bet against them right now, though Josh Beckett is as big a question mark as A.J. Burnett. Predicting a post-season finish seems a bit lofty, but I’ll  say they’ll be playing in the ALCS.  It’s a crapshoot, right?

Brien: 95 wins, 1st place A.L. East, defeat the Phillies 4 games to 2 in the World Series.

Larry: 90-72, 2nd 3rd place in A.L. East, will not make the playoffs.

Will: 93 wins, finish second in AL East, lose to Boston in ALCS. Yanks will beat Texas in the first round, Sox will beat Minny, Sox will beat Yanks in ALCS. Philly beats Rox in first round, Brewers beat Cincy. Philly beats Brewers. Philly beats Red Sox in World Series.

Josh: The Yankees in 2011 are a little worse than in previous years, so I’m going to predict that they will finish with a record of 93-69. I think they will edge the Rays for the wild card and that they will lose to the Red Sox in the ALCS.

Tamar: 92 wins, 2nd in AL East, The Yankees beat the Phillies in the World Series (despite the fact that Cliff Lee thinks Philly’s players are growing younger).

Chip: 93-69 finish 2nd in the AL East (4 GB) and win the AL Wild Card. ALCS: Red Sox over Yankees in seven games. NLCS: Braves over Phillies in seven games. WS: Red Sox over Braves in six games

Mark: 93-69. PECOTA has the Yankees projected at 92 wins and a second place finish in the AL East, but because the rest of the league outside of Boston and Tampa Bay are mediocre or worse, the Yankees easily slide into the Wild Card. Boston will be a tough team to beat out for the division, and with an improved and healthy team (jinx), the Red Sox look like the clear-cut favorites.

Anna: 96-66. The run differential for the 2010 Yankees was 166.  At this point I would hope the 2011 Yankees can at least keep the amount of runs scored the same as last year, right around 859. More is always nice, but realistically I don’t think they can produce more runs than last year. I still think the pitching over the course of this season is a concern. The Yankees will need all the runs they can get this year, and if they can do this they could end up with a 96-66 record. I do think they’ll win the AL East, but unless the pitching surpasses what I’m expecting I’d be shocked if the Yankees made it past the first round in the playoffs. However, that is why we play the games. There’s nothing better than being shocked and surprised.

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2. An explanation for your prediction in (1) above, focusing on what you think will change the most on-the-field from 2010 to 2011.

Jason: While I am optimistic that C.C. Sabathia will again be what we’re paying him to be and I am also confident that Phil Hughes will take another step up the ladder, I’m less confident in what happens after those two. I’m encouraged by A.J. Burnett‘s Spring so far, but I’m not quite allowing myself to make that mental leap just yet. If we can get 25 combined wins from our #4 and #5 starters, whomever they might be, this team will be just fine. As far as the others, I’m very excited to see if Alex Rodriguez can return to his 2007 form, as he thinks he can. Likewise with Derek Jeter. We’ve spilled enough e-ink about Jetes so far this off-season and I’m on record stating that his pride pushes him forward and Father Time backwards.  Maybe not much, but some. I also think Curtis Granderson is due for an excellent year.

Brien: Because I’m an eternal optimist and full-blown Yankees hom-ah, of course. No, seriously, I really do think this team can win the division. With the improvements over 2010 I expect from A-Rod, Posada, Jeter, Granderson, and Teixeira, the offense is better and deeper than Boston’s or Tampa’s, the bullpen may well be the best in the game, and I don’t think the starting rotation actually has that many more problems than Boston’s, it’s just that Beckett and Lackey have bigger names and better reputations.

Larry: 90-72 is slightly less optimistic than the PECOTA projections (92 wins), but it’s about on par with the SweetSpot crowdsourcing (an “under” bet on the prevailing betting line that the Yanks will win 91.5 games).  I can’t ignore the fact that the Yanks’ went into the 2010 post-season with the goal of improving their starting pitching, but failed to do so.  I can’t see the Yanks’ being able to hit well enough to make up for how poorly they’re likely to pitch. The only question is whether they’ll have competition for the AL Wild Card. PECOTA and the others do not project any other AL Wild Card contender to win more than 85 games, but I figure that at least one other Wild Card contender (Rays, White Sox, Twins, Rangers) will substantially outperform their projections. I think the Yanks will need 93 wins to make the post-season and I can’t see that happening.

Will: The offense will really be the story in 2011. A rejuvinated A-Rod (further from surgery) carrying his momentum from Spring Training into the season, Jeter bouncing back due to BABIP based upward reversion, an uninjured Gardner topping his 2010 performance, Granderson finding the power he lost last season and Jesus Montero‘s addition halfway through the season leading to the best lineup in baseball heading into September (though both Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano will regress somewhat from their 2010 peaks, and Posada will succumb to Father Time). Mark Teixeira, in particular, will show improvement over 2010, which was probably a worst case scenario for him. While the bullpen will be lights out, the starting rotation will be fairly weak after CC and Hughes, with the Yankees sending some of their plentiful chips elsewhere for a good, but not great, starting pitcher.

Josh: The Yankees are old. We all know that. However, it’s not so much the average age of the Yankees that’s concerning; it’s the age of a few specific key players. I think this year will be the last for at least one of Jeter, Posada and Mo. Posada is probably gone after the season ends anyway and Jeter is taking a significant risk with his new swing adjustment. As dreadful as Jeter’s defense has been in recent years, I think 2011 will be the year when his defense becomes more porous than swiss cheese (if it isn’t already). Overall though I think the offense will be around the same or a little worse, with improvements from Tex and A-rod balancing out the declines of Jeter and Posada. In terms of defense we should probably be around the same too; the defensive improvement brought by Russell Martin over Posada should equal the defensive decline of, well, everyone else. Defense typically peaks around age 24 and this team only has starters on the wrong side of that number. I’m not too excited about the rotation either. Freddy Garcia is probably going to get hit around, CC is likely to regress a little, and injuries always happen. However, AJ should regress closer to career norms and Javy is gone so that’s going to help out a lot. The bullpen is looking great, but relievers are volatile and we never seem to know what the pen will look like mid-season.

Tamar: I think that overall the Yankees will have a stronger team, but I am still apprehensive about the starting pitching. A stronger Red Sox team, along with a weaker starting rotation keep them out of first in the AL East, but I don’t think the Rays will be much of a threat.  I think AJ Burnett will have a better season, but I don’t quite trust Ivan Nova/Freddy Garcia yet at the back of the rotation.  I think A-Rod will have a huge season and Grandy and Teixeira will bounce back.

ChipPitching:  While the current state of the rotation is less than optimal, it’s hard to imagine it not being equally as good as last season’s version.  Sabathia should have no problem matching his production from last season.  Hughes, soon to be 25, should take another step forward this season.  Burnett, the Yankee X-factor, can’t possibly be any worse than he was last season (2.5-3.0 WAR prediction).  Nova and Garcia, while not exactly a sexy combo (either statistically or visually), should be able to match the 2.1 WAR Andy Pettitte and Javier Vazquez combined to produce last season.   The bullpen looks to be scary good with David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano, and Mariano Rivera forming a tight, powerful core that should be able put hitters away with ease.

Hitting/Defense:  With Robinson Cano firmly established as a bonifide offensive force and comeback seasons from A-Rod and Mark Teixeira looming, the Yankees shouldn’t have any problems scoring runs this season.  While I do predict some regression among the Yankee outfielders, the difference is small enough that their improved bullpen should make up the difference. Defensively, the Yankees appear to be pretty solid at catcher, first base, and outfield.  The same can not be said for the infield “skill” positions where age and defensive range seem to be the biggest issues.  Still, the Yankees are strong enough elsewhere to overcome those deficiencies.

Despite what some of the naysayers are proclaiming, the Yankees are positioned well to make another championship run.  I’m predicting a 93 win campaign, the Wild Card, and a berth to the ALCS.

Mark: With essentially the same cast returning from the 95-win 2010 team, the Yankees look poised to top 90 wins yet again. Losing Andy Pettitte will hurt, but the Yankees stand to gain better seasons from AJ Burnett, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Mark Teixeira. 162 games is a long road, however, and while the Yankees have depth in arms for the first time in a while, the farm system is low on near-ready impact players other than Jesus Montero. Depth is essential for a long season. If a Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, or Brett Gardner goes down, the team may lose 2-3 wins, though they could trade for a replacement. But all of that is unknown. Considering the team as it is and adjusting a little for expected injuries, I’ll put the Yankees down for 93 wins.

Anna: I haven’t hopped on the Boston Red Sox winning train for 2011. I think it’s going to be a really tight race — of course the offseason acquisitions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford will improve their runs scored from last year. And I can tell Bill James is apart of the Red Sox front office, the one thing they needed — more runs– Gonzalez and Crawford provide. Gonzalez was 2nd in the NL in Base Runs with 119. This is more than any Red Sox player in 2010 (Adrian Beltre had 97 BR in 2010).  Crawford had 118 BR in 2010. These acquisitions were a perfect fit for Boston. Still, they have a lot of ground to cover to keep up with the Yankees. All that information about the Red Sox is important then, because it’s going to put more pressure on the Yankees pitching this year.

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3. Which teams do you think will make the playoffs in both leagues?

Jason: AL: Red Sox, Tigers, Rangers; Yankees (WC).  NL: Phillies, Brewers, Giants; Braves (WC)

Brien: AL: Yankees, White Sox, A’s; Red Sox.  NL: Phillies, Reds, Giants; Rockies

Larry: AL: Red Sox (WS loser), Tigers, A’s (ALCS loser); Rays.  NL: Phillies (WS winner), Cards, Giants; Brewers (NLCS loser)

Will: AL: Yanks, Texas, Minnesota; RedSox. NL: Philly, Cincy, Brewers; Rockies

Josh: AL: Red Sox, Twins, Rangers; Yankees. NL: NL: Phillies, Cardinals, Giants; Braves

Tamar: AL: Red Sox, White Sox, Rangers; Yankees. NL: Phillies, Cardinals, Giants; Braves

Chip: AL: Red Sox, White Sox, Rangers; Yankees. NL: Phillies, Reds, Giants; Braves

Mark: AL: Red Sox, Twins, Rangers; Yankees. NL: Braves, Reds, Giants; Phillies

Anna: AL: Yankees, White Sox, Angels; Red Sox. NL: Braves, Cardinal, Rockies; Phillies [WS: Boston Red Sox over Philadelphia Phillies]

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4. Predictions for the performance of a single player you think will be critical to the Yankees’ success in 2011.

Jason: Because I know who the others have selected, I will say Jorge Posada. Posada will be adapting to the new and different demands of being a full time DH. Gone are the tools of ignorance, though he will remain as the emergency #3 catcher.  Posada’s ability to hit has never been in question, and he remains valuable due to his switch hitting abilities. Jorge’s lefty/right splits in 2010 were rather similar, with more power coming from the lefthand side, but a higher average from the right. I selected Jorge because as this team fights its collective age, Jorge will need to be able to make the adjustment to DH and carry that role well. The team cannot afford to have their DH suffer. The rotation isn’t so good that it can absorb a decline in production. If Jorge can post a 20 HR, .260/.360/.460 slash line with 80 runs and 80 RBI, that will be fine. However, if his decline continues, the team will suffer.

Brien: I’m betting A-Rod has a solid bounce back year in 2011. I’m not going to hope for anything like what he did in 2007 by any means, but if he can get back to his 2008 form, or even his 2009 form over a full season batting clean-up in this lineup, that could provide a fairly substantial boost in runs for a team that could use them. And with the spring A-Rod turned in, it’s hard to not imagine him coming north and mashing this season.

Larry: Brett Gardner. The Yankees’ success in 2010 was heavily dependent on Gardner and his 5.4 fWAR, second highest on the Yankees and 9th highest in the American League. The question is, can Gardner continue to produce this kind of value?  Gardner’s value is highly dependent on his ability to get on base, which he did at a .383 clip last year, leading all Yankee full-time players.  Once on base, Gardner is a deadly effective base-stealer: his 47 stolen bases tied for 4th best in baseball, and his stolen base success rate of 84% was better than anyone in baseball with 35 or more stolen bases. You might think that Gardner is not the kind of guy that a pitcher would want to walk, but  Gardner managed to draw 79 walks last year at a 13.9% walk percentage.  This walk percentage was 5th highest in the American League last year (minimum 450 at bats), very high numbers for any player with Gardner’s speed and lack of power (.103 ISO in 2010, 12th lowest in the American League). Gardner walks a lot because he swings at very few pitches (31% in 2010, the lowest in baseball), and Gardner can afford to swing at such a small number of pitches because he makes contact at a very high percentage when he does swing (Gardner’s 2.9% swinging strike percentage in 2010 was 4th lowest in baseball for players with a minimum of 400 at bats).  Overall these number strike me as remarkable, even extraordinary. Can Gardner keep this up?

Will: A.J. Burnett is both the biggest question mark and the most important performer for the Yankees in 2011. If he can remember how to throw his curve for strikes, he’ll rack up the strike outs and end the season with an ERA around 4.00. If he can’t, he might end up as an expensive 5.00 ERA guy, with too many walks and homers. Even more important than his performance during the year (which the Yankee offense can probably make up for), the Yankees have no viable #3 option in the playoffs if Burnett doesn’t get his act together, something you can bet will be hanging over Cashman’s head running up to the trade deadline in July.

Josh: Curtis Granderson: In 2009 and 2010, Granderson posted BABIPs of .275 and .277 respectively, both way under his career average of .314. Thanks to Kevin Long, his BABIP should return to career levels. I have a theory that the cause for his BABIP depression in 2010 and 2009 has to do with a conscious swing adjustment. In those two years Granderson significantly increased the percentage of flyballs that he hit over career norms. Flyballs generally go for hits much less often than groundballs. The issue is that he’s basically been an automatic out whenever he has hit a flyball to leftfield because of his swing – he has only hit the ball hard when he has pulled it. I think his swing adjustment will allow him to hit flyballs to left field with authority. The fact that he actually hit an opposite field homerun this spring – a feat previously impossible because of his swing – supports this theory. In a later post, I plan researching this issue to see how much merit my theory has.

Tamar: C.C. Sabathia. I think Sabathia is crucial to the Yankees’ success in 2011.  They will need him to come out and give them a solid start every five days, which I think he will do. I suspect that we will see a lot of change in the four and five spots as the season goes on, so consistency from CC will be important.  I think he will also play a big role in keeping off-field distractions at bay,  namely his opt-out clause, which i am sure the media will continue to ask about, despite his statements that he will no longer discuss it.

ChipNick Swisher – Swisher’s talented and versatile enough to be able to not only hit out of pretty much any spot in the lineup, but also play a multitude of positions including all three outfield spots and first base.  He has the plate discipline of a saint; works counts and draws walks; and produces 25 home runs per season like clockwork.  What’s not to like?  I suppose he could play better defense and run the bases a little better, but it’s not like he’s hurting the team in either realm. While I’m not usually the type of analyst that gives too much stock in the intangible side of baseball, I do think there’s something to be said about having the ability to keep a clubhouse loose during high pressure situations.  Nick Swisher has just that ability.  While I can’t quantify how much his goofy, prankster personality helps the team, it certainly can’t hurt—especially considering the city, team, and ownership group for which he plays.

Mark: This seems pretty obvious, but Robinson Cano’s performance will have a major impact on the Yankees. Players do not individually make or break a season for a team, but it will be hard for the Yankees if Cano cannot near his 2010 production. After some mid-4 WAR seasons in 2007 and 2009, Cano exploded for 6.4 last season. The big change was his walk rate, and if he can maintain that, he looks good for a repeat. His ISO barely went up, but you’d expect that from a guy coming into his prime. His BABiP was around his career average. His defense was about average. Nothing screams that he’ll come back to earth. If the Yankees could get 6.5 wins again (or dare I ask for more), the Yankees are sitting pretty. But if he gets hurt or loses a few wins because the walk rate dips back to normal, the Yankees will be hurting.

Anna: If the Yankees pitching is a concern, then there is one ballplayer that holds the key to how they’ll perform: Russell Martin. Catchers are the quarterbacks of baseball. There’s been lots of excellent research recently on catchers and their ability to influence a pitchers ERA, called catcher ERA or catcher framing skills. Basically, in The Hardball Times Annual and in a different article by Mike Fast at Baseball Prospectus there’s enough research now to have reliable data which supports catchers having a talent in impacting a pitchers ERA. Over the years we’ve heard of certain pitchers being particular about one catcher calling and catching their games. Russell Martin, if he can be the type of catcher who his pitching staff trusts, can work with the Yankees starting rotation to get those borderline calls and give the rotation added confidence going into each game.

5. Your prediction for the most important off-the-field Yankees story/distraction in 2011.

Jason: Not sure if it will qualify as an appropriate answer, but CC’s opt out clause/decision will loom over this team, particularly from the All Star break on. If CC’s having a strong season, the question will be asked entirely too often. Will it affect the team? I doubt it, but it will be noise for the rest of us.

Brien: After A.J. Burnett dominates American League hitters through the All-Star break, controversy erupts when it’s discovered that his improved command is the result of the cut out of Joel Sherman’s face pitching coach Larry Rothschild has been gluing to Russell Martin‘s catcher’s mitt. When Sherman complains, Burnett apologizes and promises to replace Sherman’s image with Jon Heyman’s. Burnett goes on to win the Cy Young by a unanimous vote.

Larry: The Clemens perjury trial. It is going to be a circus, more so than the Bonds perjury trial currently ongoing in San Francisco.  Unlike Bonds, Clemens is adamant that he never used anabolic steroids.  Unlike Bonds, Clemens is accused of lying to Congress, in front of a national audience.  And unlike Bonds, Clemens will have to face down the testimony of a teammate, recently retired pitcher Andy Pettitte.  The Clemens trial may focus on things that happened in the Yankees’ locker room.  The trial is scheduled to begin in July, and is sure to inspire more finger-wagging directed at Alex Rodriguez and solemn pledges from MSM denizens that they’ll never allow accused PED users admission to the Hall of Fame. You won’t want to miss this … unless, of course, you do.

Josh: Alex Rodriguez: movie star. Does that make you cringe? Well you will cringe a lot more knowing that may actually happen. In terms of distractions that are more likely to occur (hopefully), I don’t really expect too much to happen aside from the Clemens stuff. At worst I think we see some sort of bad teammate story come out, perhaps from Rafael Soriano. He was said last year to get really angry when Joe Maddon used him in non-save situations, so hopefully that attitude is either misreported or a thing of the past.

Tamar: At the moment I would say the Barry Bonds trial (especially as the Giambis are/have testified), but with the Clemens trial looming, it is probably a combination of the two.  Andy Pettitte‘s retirement has probably lessened the impact of the Clemens trial on the Yankees, but there is no doubt it is going to be a major story in 2011.

Will: The most important off the field issues will have to do with Derek Jeter, who (complete guess) will finally get married to the Mink.

Chip: Revealing poolside pictures of Derek Jeter and Minka Kelly will be released a few weeks after the All-Star break.  Hank Steinbrenner will use this time to reiterate to the press that Derek Jeter is too focused on his mansion, and not enough on winning.

Mark: Oh goody, the traditional big off-the-field story about the Yankees. What will it be? It has to be the elephant in the room regarding CC’s contract. Will he opt out? If he does, how will the Yankees respond? Will he go? Will the Yankees try to retain him? Should the Yankees try to retain him? After losing on Cliff Lee, can they afford to lose him? Then, the crusher—did CC actually tell Cliff Lee not to come to New York because he’d be leaving the following off-season? Oh, I can see it now.

Anna: So long as baseball is a business as well as a sport, there will always be off-the-field distractions — hype and commotion (once uncovered by the press) sells. Personally, I’d really like to see another cat fight for A-Rod. Maybe Kate Hudson could bake him some cookies (so much tastier than popcorn). She could toss them to A-Rod in the dugout during the game. Or perhaps, a third mystery girlfriend (kind of like a mystery team only it’s with girlfriends) could surface this year; providing him with a healthy game-time snack, like apples and cheese.

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6. Biggest Yankee midseason pickup?

Jason: Thanks to the miracle of revenue sharing and luxury taxes, teams are locking up their best players earlier and earlier. Pitching remains at the greatest premium. I don’t think the Mariners are trading Felix Hernandez, so that’s off the table. Looking at 2012 and 2013 free agents, the list is rather bleak. I am sure C.J. Wilson will be re-upped with Texas and I don’t think Texas has any desire to send him our way. Chris Carpenter, on the other hand, seems entirely likely. He’s got at $15M option for 2012 and if the Cards want to pare payroll to sign Albert Pujols for a bajillion years and dollars, dealing Carpenter might help (or hurt, depending on your perspective). My last guess would be Dan Haren, who’s set to become a free agent after 2013. I’m not sure what happened to him the first half of 2010 in ARI, but the second half in LAA was quite nice. Note, this isn’t a wish list, just a few guys who I think might be available and carry enough payroll weight to keep smaller market teams at bay.

Brien: This is difficult because it’s hard to know who’s going to be available. The Cardinals could look to dump Chris Carpenter if they’re out of it, but I think they’re still a good enough team to at least be in competition around the All-Star break, making them more likely to go all out for a playoff berth in what could be Albert Pujols‘ last season in St. Louis. I’ll say Ryan Dempster, because I don’t think the Cubs will be that competitive, and moving Dempster would be an obvious move.

Larry: Most writers assume that the Yankees will pick up a top-line starting pitcher before this year’s trade deadline. The question is, what pitchers will be available? There’s no way to know for sure … but if I were Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman, I would look no further than a few miles east, to the borough of Queens. The Mets do not figure to be in the hunt for a post-season berth this year, and their financial plight looks to be a few notches north of desperate.  The Mets’ biggest payroll commitment is to 10 year veteran Johan Santana, who is owed $22.5 million this year and around $25 million in 2012 and 2013.  Santana is a four-time all-star and two-time Cy Young award winner, but he’s also a 31 year old pitcher with 1900 major league innings logged on his surgically repaired left shoulder.  You’d have to think that Santana represents a financial risk that the Mets can no longer afford, but that the Yanks might want to consider, especially considering that the Yanks might not have to give up top prospects in a trade so long as the Yanks assumed most or all of Santana’s salary.  Of course, all depends on when Santana recovers from last year’s rotator cuff surgery … whether Santana would be willing to waive his no-trade clause … whether the Mets would be willing to settle for prospects not named Montero, Banuelos and Betances … whether the Mets would be willing to let one of their biggest stars pitch for their cross-town rival … and on what other pitchers might become available to the Yankees this summer.

Will: Out on a biiig limb here: Matt Cain, after the Giants fall out of it early. Tim Lincecum continues to be great, but Jonathan Sanchez will disappoint, and one of the worst offenses in major league baseball will not be able to repeat last year’s performance. Brian Sabean has a huge penchant for pitching (take a look at his current rotation!) and will not be able to say no to a package headlined by one of the Yankees’ young studs. It’s also worth noting that Cain’s salary jumps from $7.5 million in 2011 to $15 million in 2012, something the Yankees are better equipped to afford than the Giants.

Josh: Pitching. Pitching. Pitching. The rotation is looking weak and I’m sure the Yankees already have several targets who they expect to become available mid-season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them acquire a big name like Dan Haren once the Angels fall out of contention. You never know who will become available mid-season and the Yankees have plenty of chips to trade.

Tamar: King Felix – a girl can dream can’t she?

Chip: Biggest mid-season pick-up – Francisco Liriano

Mark: I’m going with the catching situation. If I had to guess, Russell Martin won’t live up to expectations. He’s a nice gamble, but his potential is limited. He’ll flop or underperform, but the Yankees are still left in a quandary. Montero’s defense just isn’t there, Romine can’t hit upper-level pitching, and the Yankees need to find an outside replacement. They’ll call Atlanta about David Ross, but they’re not selling. They’ll call the Pirates about Ryan Doumit and/or Chris Snyder, but they’re not thrilled about those options. In the end, they’ll make a mildly disappointing trade with the Rockies for Chris Ianetta because the Rockies have Willin Rosario and never really liked Ianetta anyway.

Anna: If it’s possible that I have an area of expertise, this is not it. So, I’ll just take a wild guess. The Indians are right- handed- mediocre -starting pitching heavy. Fausto Carmona has been talked about, there’s also Justin Masterson, but I fail to see an available pitcher at this point that fits the profile of what will be better than what the Yankees have already.   Both Chris Carpenter and Roy Oswalt have a 2012 club option. It could be an interesting offseason next year.

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So how’d we do? Where’d we run off the tracks? Who has the best ideas/guesses? Worst? Use the comments below for your own answers to the questions above.

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10 thoughts on “The second annual IIATMS roundtable

  1. jay_robertson

    Three cheers for the WOMEN of ESPN – the only two ESPN prognosticators I've seen getting the Yanks into the WS are Tamar and Tristan Cockraft (and, upon further reflection, he might be a guy. ;D)

    I know – Sox prly will get into the Series – but what fun is it to concede before the first pitch? I might as well cancel my MLB.TV before they hit my card.

    • BrienJackson

      Hey, I picked them to win too.

      • jay_robertson

        Dang – sorry – Jason's negativity made me skip right over your positive prediction. Missed you entirely, and went from Jason's crapshoot to Larry having them not making the playoffs. :(

        • BrienJackson

          Larry has them finishing 2nd in the division, but the Rays winning the wild card. Not sure how that's going to work. ;)

          • LarryAtIIATMS

            Slight miscalculation there. I've made the necessary correction.

          • LarryAtIIATMS

            I did correct, but here's how it worked originally. By my thinking, chances ARE that the Yanks will end up in AL East second place — I think that they are a better team than the Rays. As I said, the Yanks will battle for the wild card with the Rays, along with the second place contenders in the AL Central and AL West (which I figure will be the White Sox, Twins and Rangers). My prediction is that one of these five teams (and yes, it could be the Yankees) will substantially outperform their projections. Honestly, I don't know which team it will be — let's give each of these teams a roughly 25% chance of outperforming projections. That gives the Yankees a 75% chance of finishing in second in the AL East, but less than a 50% chance of making the playoffs. So that's what I wrote for questions 1 and 2.

            But for question 3, I had to go back and PICK the AL wildcard winner. Forced to choose among the aforementioned contenders, I chose the Rays. I think the chance that the Rays WILL win the wild card is less than 50%, but I think their chances are better than any of the other contenders.

            Which led to what appeared to be a contradiction in my thinking.

            I've made a "correction" to what I wrote above, but a more accurate way of describing my thinking is that the Yanks are battling for the wild card and that they are less than a 50-50 bet to win that battle.

  2. jay_robertson

    Regardless of the math (or Larry's excuses) – good stuff here. Brought up more than a couple points that had kinda slid under the rug, so to speak.

    Thanks to Josh, for the reminder of the impending Soriano hissy fit and blow up – not if, but wondering when. And kudos to Anna for mentioning Martin behind the plate – once you get past rotation worries, he DOES have to be the #1 concern – and he's out there every day, without a recent track record of health or production.

    And lastly, thanks for the pipe dream, at least, Larry. Even with all of his injuries and issues, I'd love to see Santana in pinstripes. Why let a good guy wither up and die with the Mets – I'd take him.

    Thanks.

  3. Sabrina

    Larry, can't believe you said the yanks wont at least get the wildcard. I don't think they are so bad. Brien and Tamar have made me happy…thanks for keeping the WS hopes alive. I still don't see Boston as all out favorites. We have a 162 games to find out!

    • LarryAtIIATMS

      Sabrina, when I write these predictions I have to put my fandom to one side. Most of the advanced predictions show the Yankees with 90 – 92 wins in 2011. I'm guessing on the low side of those predictions, but a 90-win team is a good team. By most predictions, 90 wins is the third best team in baseball.

      Sabrina, I wrote this here earlier, but look at the Yanks' record during the two months last year when Pettitte was on the DL. Project that record out to 162 games, and you get … a 90-72 record. I don't see how the 2011 team is better than the Yanks' 2010 team minus Andy Pettitte. I look for guys who might perform better in 2011 than they did in 2010: Jeter, A-Rod, Teix. Then I look at the guys who had huge years in 2010 and might regress in 2011: Cano, Swisher, Gardner. Sure, the 2011 team could be better than 2010 (minus Pettitte) and it could be worse.

      The question then is whether 90 wins is good enough to make the post-season. It might be. But last three years, the Wild Card winner won 95 games. In 2007, it took 94 wins. I think you have to go back to 1998 to find an AL East wild card winner with as few as 90 wins. The Yanks have a decent chance to win the wild card, even with 90 wins, because so many potential wild card contenders (Rays, Angels, Twins) seem relatively weak to me this year. But with an unbalanced schedule, what are the chances that a team like the White Sox or Rangers might get lucky and exceed expectations?

      In any event, this is my thinking as a neutral and rational observer. But it's Opening Day, I'm no longer observing with neutrality, and I'm happy as hell that none of my fellow writers here agree with me. Go Yanks!

  4. mikeNicoletti

    Nice Article!

    @Brien: Nice Burnett prediction, lets just keep it quiet so the Fenway Faithful don't buy some fatheads for behind the screen!

    @PETCOA: Here's to Hughes out performing expectations, and Cashman picking up +3WAR with a couple deft moves over the current roster! (Replacing Garcia with a solid #3 starter could do most of the work!

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