The Yankees’ Standing In The AL East Right Now

The champagne bath could be harder to come by in 2013. Courtesy of The Daily News

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

It’s no secret by now that this offseason has been a strange one for the Yankees in many ways.  They can be best described as being “actively inactive,” focusing all their time and energy on re-signing their own internal free agents while staying far on the periphery of all other free agent and trade rumors.  As I mentioned this morning, they’ve spent amounts of money right up there with the best of them, so it’s not like they’re completely sitting on their hands, but were it not for Alex Rodriguez‘s newest hip injury not a dollar of it would have gone towards a single player from outside the organization.  This offseason marked the first big step towards the 2014 payroll goal, and to their credit the Yankees have stayed on the path of the cheap and short-term.

This strategy has not gone unnoticed by their AL East competition.  Almost every other team in the division, with the exception of Baltimore, has been very active on the free agent and trade markets this offseason, picking up the slack and the players left for the taking by the Yankees electing to stand pat.  It’s been interesting to say the least, as recent attempts by other clubs to try to step up and grab the “biggest big spender” torch away from the Yanks have yet to return big dividends (see: both teams in Los Angeles).  It’s also a bit worrisome, as the Yankees’ approach this offseason has opened a window of opportunity that every other team seems eager to jump through.

Pennants and championships aren’t won in December, that much we know.  But the collection of moves that have been made (and not made) so far begs the question, are the Yankees still considered the king of the hill and the top of the heap in the AL East?  Should they be?

The latest edition of RLYW’s CAIRO projections for 2013 were released recently, and that edition had the Yankees below 90 wins and right in the middle of a potential 4-way battle for the division crown.  Those projections were updated again yesterday Tuesday with the completion of the R.A. Dickey trade, and put the Yankees at 88-74, 2 games behind the Blue Jays in the division race.  Of course projections are just that, and not a guarantee of anything, but they set a pretty realistic precedent for how things might change for New York this season in dealing with their AL East rivals.

For the last X number of years, it’s pretty much been a foregone conclusion that the Yankees were going to finish 1st or 2nd in the division even on their worst day.  That conclusion might not be so foregone in 2013, and it shouldn’t be based on what has happened around the Bombers.  While they’ve retained their older core in order to keep payroll flexible, Toronto and Tampa Bay have made trades and signings that make their lineups and rotations better and deeper for both the immediate and more distant futures.  They’ve bolstered their talent pool with youth, diversity, and productivity while the Yankees have willingly let the water in their talent pool get stagnant.  Even the Fraud Sawx’s signings have been good in terms of adding talent to areas of need, although the dollars and years involved can be questioned.

And with there already being a void in the Yankee MiL system when it comes to upper-level, MLB-ready talent, the Yankees are going to have to rely even more on that aging core of players, players who continue to show signs of breaking down both physically and from a production/value standpoint.  Their ace starting pitcher just had elbow surgery; their $180 million first baseman has done nothing but decline since the day he signed his contract; their $200 bajillion third baseman is one more injury away from needing to wear a Life Alert bracelet when he takes the field; and their franchise player may or may not be ready to play on Opening Day.  The Yankees have gone from a collection of elite-level talent to a collection of elite-level names in the last few years, and that downward transition has been ill-timed with the new luxury tax avoidance edict set by ownership.

Which is not to say that Toronto isn’t still full of health-related question marks in their rotation and lineup either.  Or that Tampa still has a weak offensive lineup top to bottom.  Or that Bahhston still doesn’t have much of a starting rotation to speak of.  Because all of that is true.  And when it comes down to it, the Yankees CAN say right now that they have a very good starting rotation and bullpen, and a lineup capable of being very good even without A-Rod.  But the gap between the Yankees and everybody else certainly seems to have been closed this offseason, and it could tighten up even more or disappear altogether by the time the calendar rolls forward a year.  The drama we saw play out for the AL East title in 2012 could have just been a warm-up act for the 5-way free-for-all in 2013-2014.

About Brad Vietrogoski

Born in Dover, Delaware and raised in Danbury, Connecticut, Brad now resides in Wisconsin, where he regularly goes out of his way to remind Brewers fans that their team will never be as good as the Yankees. When he’s not writing for IIATMS, he likes to spend his time incorporating “Seinfeld” quotes into everyday conversation, critiquing WWE storylines, and drinking enough beer to be good at darts.

18 thoughts on “The Yankees’ Standing In The AL East Right Now

  1. Has anyone thought that the main reason the Yankees finished the season where they were was largely to do with Toronto having injuries and Boston imploding? Boston will field a better team and Toronto, (besides all the new players) will return a couple of good players to the line up. I can easily see my beloved Yankees at 88 wins….or less. I’d still like to see Granderson traded for a right handed hitting outfielder…but as is, I think the Yanks will be lucky to win 90.

    • No. So what if Boston imploded? The Orioles supplanted them as a good team in the division. Toronto won only 73 games last year – they weren’t winning the 90 games the Rays won which weren’t good enough to land a wildcard slot if (the Blue Jays) were 100% healthy.

      The Rays lost their #2 starter Shields so they can forget about winning a wildcard slot or the division, I don’t care how well Will Myers MAY hit.

      The Red Sox aren’t going from 69 wins to 90 wins signing Ryan Dempster, David Ross, Shane Victorino, and Mike Napoli (he signed yet?) Ross and Napoli will be offensive downgrades from Saltalamacchia and Gonzalez and Victorino could easily turn into a $39M version of Carl Crawford, Dempster the classic good career NL pitcher turned AL batting practice – see Javier Vasquez 2004.

      The Orioles won too many one-run games last year to make me think they will be anywhere close to the 93 wins they collected last year. History called the 1998-2011 Orioles shows they will not be as good as they were in 2012. They’ve done NOTHING this offseason save lose Mark Reynolds.

      The Blue Jays still have no bullpen and not much of an offense after Bautista, Encarnacion, Reyes, and Cabrera, and that’s assuming the latter two are locks to be good. Romero was awful. Can Morrow equal or better his 2012? Can Johnson handle the AL? Can Buerhle handle the AL again? Can Dickey handle the AL as a starter? Cuz he sure couldn’t as a reliever. They better do something this year because if not they’ll lose Josh Johnson to free agency (they’ll lose him no matter how they do), be stuck with two more years of Buerhle and possibly Dickey.

      Yankees 92-100 wins depending on the offense

      Blue Jays 82-89 wins depending on the rotation (I just don’t see a 17-win or better improvement with no bullpen improvement, sorry)

      Orioles 81-81 (they’re gonna win less one-run games and falter a bit hence the 12-win drop)

      Rays 78-84 (no Shields or offensive improvement as Myers is no lock whatsoever to be The Second Coming Of Ben Zobrist will cause a 12-win drop.)

      Red Sox 75-87 (they’ll win 6 more games because of Dempster and a full year of Lackey.)

  2. Sorry Dave,
    But had not for the injuries the yankees had after allstar break no other team would of been close. Every team had injuries.

    • My beloved Yankee injuries were not so crucial as it may appear. Mo going down was negated by Soriano saving 40 games. A save does not improve because a better pitcher is in. A save is a save and plenty of saves occured with very few blown saves. Pettite going down did not overwhelmingly harm the team, it was lack of hitting down the stretch that hurt. Having the Rod down did not hurt as his replacements actually hit better than he did. The only injury that hurt was Gardner as we lost speed and defense. Having Toronto lose all its starters and their monster power hitter hurt them way worse. If not for a June played against a feeble NL and injuries to Toronto and the Boston thing, the Yankees only win 88 games. Not much to feel confident about going into 2013.

  3. You call this journalism? The BlueJays just became the Marlins and Tampa, Boston and Baltimore have stayed the same. The Yanks are the favorites going in and will have massive payroll leverage from 2014 on. There’s 100 million off the books next year. Trade Grandy and Cano and you can field 3-4 major league ready youngsters and play baseball in the 21st century. It’s about time NY does the right thing. One ring a decade is not the Yankee way! Sell it Hal or step up in 2015 and make it happen!!!!

  4. As a Jay’s fan I expect the Yanks to be the team to beat in 2013 and after 2014. I agree that the Spankies are only “temporarily embarrassed” due to their sane and reasonable attempt to break the cycle of paying zillions of dollars to KC and Houston. Once they fall below the 189 level for 2014 – the giant will reawaken to prey on all who challenge her.

    However, for 2013 and 2014 it’s gonna fell fantastic ripping you guys hearts out and shoving up your you know whats. As for the dawn of 2015 – the heck with it I might even be off baseball by then!

    Go Jays – slaughter them Spankies while the sun shines!

  5. I never understood why people celebrate winning a division esp a team like the Yankees they should only celebrate World Series. The ownership is taking a big risk with this sticking under the budget crap, and I think this is the year where it will hurt, and we will be eliminated in that WC elimination game. Yanks ownership should sell they are failing to put the best teams on the field.

  6. guys, as you said it takes all 25 players to make a team, the depth and experience of the yankees should account for some games, does the blue jays have health insurance on their starters?, does bautista get hurt?, you point out all of the yankees problems but no one elses?, lets see how the year progresses and how the bombers end up…

  7. I see the Yankees fighting it out with Boston Red Sox for last place in the American East. At end of the day they will still my Yankees no matter what.

    • Yeah, they’re fighting for last place with Sabathia, Kuroda, Pettitte, and Hughes as their front four starters and a DRob-Mo 1-2 (Mo 2 cuz he’s the next punch), sure.

      Nunez is a better BA and OBP man than Ibanez, the Yanks will sign an OF and IF, and they’ll figure out C in spring training.

      They’ll get a bat or two in June or July if needed.

  8. I am absolutely sick of hearing about the luxury tax and the $189M self-imposed salary cap. No longer is the goal about putting the best team on the field and winning the World Series. Hank seems consumed with financial goals and appears convinced that he can save his way to success. George certainly had his flaws but he built the value of the Yankees from $10M to half a Billion and he did not do it by saving his pennies. He acquired the best players, fielded the best team and made the goal clear from bat boy to CEO. Everyone knew that anything less than a World Series championship was unacceptable. Any successful organization knows that the whole team must know what is expected of them and then be given the support and tools to get the job done. With George, everyone knew that ending the season by losing game 6 of the World Series meant that heads would roll. But they were also given the tools to accomplish the mission.

    Hank has changed the priority from winning to avoiding the luxury tax. Winning has become the secondary goal and in many ways the goals conflict. No longer can it be said that the expectations are supported by the tools to accomplish the mission. I am sure that Cashman will be the scapegoat in all of this if the Yankees miss the playoffs in 2013. The NY fan base is savy enough to know better. If the goal is to rebuild the team with youth and manageable contracts, then man up and admit that this is a rebuilding year. We all know way more than we care to about the one year reset on the luxury tax and if this is part of the long term plan, then communicate that to fans and staff, bite the bullet and do it. But to demand the savings and still expect the staff to manage unachievable expectations is just a sign of poor management.

    With the team as it stands, the Yankees will not only not win the World Series, they will be lucky to get to the playoffs through the wild card. And frankly, who cares? If they have no shot at the ring, the luxury taxes will pale in comparison to lost revenues from other income streams. I probably watched 3-5 games a week last year. If the Yankees are mired in 3rd place, I can read that in the news.

    Please Hank, get the priorities back in order or sell the team to someone who will.

  9. Hank is the buffoon, it’s Hal you want to talk to…but yes, spending money is the Yankee way. Unfortunately, the Yankees have been “wasting” money simultaneously. It is important to spend money wisely, which is sometimes hard cuz no one can predict the future.

  10. Hey, it is a crapshoot come playoff time….totally random who wins the WS once the tourney starts. Just get there. While Toronto, Boston, and Tampa are good, so is our aging NYY team. We have a good rotation (and if nova reverts to 2010 form, quite deep), and six good, everyday hitters — Jeter, cano, Gardner, tex, youkills, and Ichiro. We have a very good pen, and then some holes. Everyone has holes. It is weird for our NYY to have holes, cos George usually went for a team o studs everywhere, but we have enough players to compete for a playoff spot.

    • Not by a longshot.

      Saltalamacchia > Ross offensively – Ross has never caught every day.

      Cody Ross > Victorino offensively – Victorino is a borderline super fourth outfielder and a poor man’s older Carl Crawford.

      Gonzalez > Napoli offensively and defensively. Dude sucks as a catcher and he’ll suck as a firstbaseman.

      Beckett > Dempster if you want to look at Beckett's entire Red Sox career not just 2012. What has Dempster done in the AL? Nothing.

      Lackey is a total question mark with him missing ALL of 2012.

      Lester was bad last year and he in his walk year, so he will have that "walk year" pressure.

      Doubront came out of nowhere.

      Bucholz is nowhere near the pitcher he was in 2010.

      How long can Ortiz keep producing?

  11. @Matt….you act like trading Cano and Granderson means that the Yankees get dogsh*t back. Of course not. They could be valuable chips in getting younger talent that is already in majors or just about to be. I would rather see the Yankees get something for them than to just let them walk with only 1 draft pick at end of first round. Cano is not going to be worth the money that Boras his agent is asking. He is 31 and giving him a 10 yr contract is absurd. I say get two or 3 players for him preferably pitching, shortstop and a good bat. Eduardo Nunez should be trained to play second base. He has a larger margin of error at second than at shortstop. The way I figure it the Yankees can get 5 to 6 talented players for Cano and Granderson. The team as assembled now is not a winning team. It is a team that is aging and one or two injuries from disaster. The Yankees have done NOTHING to prepare for this day. To think that they will be able to sign Cano after the season is a fool’s dream. Cano does not bleed Yankee pinstripes. They still have time to bolster this team and get younger. But only if they trade Granderson and Cano.