The Yankees aren’t getting better, but are they getting worse?

The Yankees, thus far, have not made any moves this offseason that would obviously seem to make them a better team than they were in 2012. And while there are still some options out there that would fit that bill, the Yankees aren’t interested in any of them so far as we know, meaning that, for the most part, their offseason moves will consist of keeping the band together for one more tour. As Mark Feinsand tweets, that’s not necessarily a cause for panic:

There’s certainly a lot of truth here, especially considering how few holes they had to address at the start of the offseason. With Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte both coming back, re-signing Hiroki Kuroda was definitely the team’s top priority, and by taking care of that they probably got the best possible deal they could while making their rotation a strength. They even dealt with the contingency of Alex Rodriguez‘s injury fairly quickly, and in perhaps the best possible way, by signing Kevin Youkilis to a one year contract. The Yankees might not be making flashy moves, but expecting flashy moves every year isn’t realistic, and probably pushes into the counterproductive realm in a market like this one.

The problem with projecting this formula into next season, however, is the Yankees clearly have gotten worse in some areas. I’ve already beaten the catching situation to death, so suffice it to say that replacing Russell Martin with Francisco Cervelli or Austin Romine will make the team worse at the margins, and swapping out Nick Swisher for Ichiro Suzuki full time in right field won’t be much better, at least for the offense. Factor in that everyone else will be a year older, that Derek Jeter probably won’t repeat the season he had last year even if he’s healthy, that A-Rod is already hurt, that Mark Teixeira hasn’t shown any reason to think he’ll stop his steady decline, etc. and it’s not unrealistic to think that the baseline for 2013 is going to be lower than the 2012 season, even if the Yankees don’t deal with as many injuries.

That’s not to say everything is doomed already, by any means. The Yankees could still make additional moves, though it doesn’t appear that they will. Even without them, though, there’s no clear titan in the A.L. East, and their two closest competitors (Baltimore and Tampa Bay) have also gotten worse so far this offseason. But they’re still good, as are Toronto and (in all likelihood) Boston, which makes watching the Yankees not only sit on their powder with regards to other teams’ free agents, but let their own regulars leave without any real attempt to keep them, incredibly frustrating.

 

11 thoughts on “The Yankees aren’t getting better, but are they getting worse?

  1. Matthew Cohen

    You forgot Brett Gardner's return. If he's healthy, he's a 5-6 win player. A healthy bump over the cast of characters in left last year.

    • BrienJackson

      That would have fit in with "not having so many injuries."

      • chris

        Brien, you are missing a part of the picture. Swisher is a defensive liability and LF might as well have been manned by a 3rd grader last year. The upgrade on D with Gardner and Ichiro (assuming Grandy is still around) moves our outfield D from about c- average to an A-. That is going to mean a lot in terms of cutting down triples, keeping guys from going from 2nd to home singles, etc and will certainly help guys like Phil Hughes who are fly ball pitchers. It is hard to figure the run totals, but this current outfield would have prevented dozens of runs last year and won a number of games where innings were extended, etc. The same goes for Tex at 1b. Okay, not the same hitter but no 1b in the game is better at picking and saves the team a ton of runs a year. We may have less firepower right now but we are, overall, a better team defensively in the field and have 3 guys who can get on base, steal bases (one who can literally steal 2nd or 3rd at will), lay down bunts and, in short, do all the little things we never did to get runs across in tight games. The Giants were last in the league in home runs last year. We were first. Home runs don't mean what people think.

  2. Bill

    Don't know how may bridge players we have out there, but Brian Cashman reminds me of a guy trying to fulfill a bridge contract without having all the cards to do so. He's going to try and finesse the Yankees through the next two years and then go back to business as usual in 2015. Which, given his record for bargain basement successes, just might work.

    The Yanks are still a good team. Not a dominating 1998 style powerhouse by any stretch, but still a good team. However, the age would lead you to worry that injury will lead to a 1965 style breakdown, which wouldn't surprise anybody. This team could either compete in the postseason or finish last in the division and you could make a good case either way. Which is why we watch the games.

  3. jay_robertson

    One could make the argument that the improvement of Gardner over Jones and Ibanez would make up for the exchange of Swisher for Ichiro. Maybe even netting a small gain, if ichiro stays healthy.

    Beyond that, yup. A healthy Andy might net another win or two – but trading A-Rod for Youk, having CC coming off another surgery, Derek off surgery…

    Yes, things could be really bad. At best, it will be more of the same. At worst, the Yankees will be fighting Boston for last place – only at the end of the season this time, rather than in June.

    • chris

      If Andy stays healthy that is more like 5 more wins compared to the retreads (Garcia, etc) we peddled out there and CC's surgery was a minor thing and Jeter's is not a ligament thing where it is going to be vulnerable to a tear. Youk is a downgrade and we are weaker behind the plate but I think we SAVE more runs on defense with the outfield than we lose in power and there is still a decent chance the Pineda comes back after the all-star break (to say nothing for the possibility that the Yanks pick someone up after the break from a team that is out of it). Last place? No chance. Missing the playoffs: 50-50.

  4. Norm

    I'd say yes, they are getting worse, for one simple reason. All the key players are a year older. There are too many starters on this team facing the end of their careers. Jeter, A-Rod ( if he even plays), Ichiro are all at the point where their careers are on a downward spiral. As the article points out, it's a lot to expect Jeter to match his 2012 season. We've already seen A-Rod's slow but steady decline, even without the hip injury. Yes, Ichiro did well after the trade, but at his age can we expect that to continue? I'd say no. And, sadly, there's no immediate help we can expect from the farm system. All the best prospects (if they even pan out) are 2 or 3 years away at best.

  5. With Hamilton signing, is there a point where we consider bringing back Swisher on a one year deal? His market is shrinking rapidly, and the draft pick thing is getting more impactful.

  6. mcmastro

    Haven't gotten better? Andy should be there a full season, C.C shouldn't be as D.L prone, Gardner for a full season and the best closer in history is back for a full year too. And when Arod comes back, they have a good DH in Youk. I know they could conceivably lose 80 games this year because of old age and injuries, but if healthy, they could just as conceivably win 100.

    • michael

      This is very hopeful. Watching even a few seasons, we know any player is susceptible to losing more time to surgery / rehab than set in the optimal recovery plan, especially with age, and injury history. This can be said for Arod, Gardner, and others. It can also be said for what (not) to expect from Youkilis. He's not a lock to stay on the field, much less put up typical Youk-type offense.

      Yes, Andy's injury due to random event and he, CC, and Kuroda are seldom on the DL. But, the team should project pitchers at that age to miss a handful of starts through the season, possibly to the benefit of their health.

  7. michael

    To answer the title- probably. Even if Gardner offsets Swisher, Pineda makes a few appearances, they string together a few wins at catcher, DH, and bench to mimic last year, and regression occurs in both directions, probably worse. The 7+ reliable starting pitchers to begin the season was depth they burned through. They need everyone to maintain a high level of health. Most everyone's on the wrong side of 30, a year older. Highschool girls: I get older, the league stays the same age.

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