How Far Behind Are The Yankees?

The 2012 Blue Jays finished with a 73-89 record, and a 74-88 Pythagorean Expectation. Offensively, they ranked 24th in baseball with a 15.8 fWAR, and 28th in pitching behind a 7.6 fWAR. Theoretically, a team like this would need to add at least 22 additional wins to start thinking about a playoff run, and that’s exactly what GM Alex Anthopoulos did.

They’ve arguably had the biggest offseason, thus far. They’ve lost Yunel Escobar (1.8 fWARin 2012), Jeff Mathis (0.8), Kelly Johnson (0.7), Carlos Villanueva (0.6), Henderson Alvarez (0.5), Brandon Lyon (0.4), Jason Frasor (0.2), Adeiny Hechavarria (-0.2), Yan Gomes (-0.2), and Omar Vizquel (-0.6). In total, it’s only a loss of 4 fWAR, leaving the team at a 70-92 record for 2013. This is, of course, before we factor in all the additions they made in free agency and trades.

In free agency, they signed both Melky Cabrera (4.6 fWAR in 2012) and Maicer Izturis (0.7). They did their real damage in trades, and acquired R.A. Dickey (4.6), Jose Reyes (4.5), Josh Johnson (3.8), Mark Buehrle (2.1), Esmil Rogers (0.8), Emilio Bonifacio (0.6), Josh Thole (0.1), Jeremy Jeffress (0.0), and Mike Nickeas (-0.6). Assuming each of these players repeats their 2012 season, this is an additional 21.2 fWAR to their team. In theory, this should add 21 wins to their 70-92 record, giving them a projected 91-71 record.

There are still a number of factors that this ignores. For instance, the Blue Jays were the third most injured team in the American League in 2012. Players like Brandon Morrow and Jose Bautista could have been the team’s leading pitcher and hitter in wins, had it not been for injuries. They also have a number of very young players that are beginning to reach their prime years. The downside to the moves this offseason, is that the players they acquired also have questions surrounding them. Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson have legitimate injury histories, Mark Buehrle hasn’t played well against the American League East, Melky Cabrera might not be the same player when he stops using performance enhancing drugs, and R.A. Dickey is 38 years old.

If everything goes right, you can add a few wins on top of that 91 win benchmark, perhaps bringing the team to close to 100 wins. However, realistically, this is a low-90 win team, and preliminary ZiPs projections has them at 93-69. While this is the best pre-season projection the Blue Jays have had in a while, they have as much downside as any contender out there. So many of their pieces are high-risk that it’s hard to count on the team as a favorite come April.

Though it seems that the Blue Jays have runaway with the AL East, the Rays, Yankees, and Red Sox aren’t far behind them. ZiPs has Tampa at 88 wins, the Yankees at 87 wins, and the Red Sox at 85 wins. Any of these teams are a couple moves behind the Blue Jays to bump their projection to the mid 90’s. The Yankees, in particular, have a designated hitter and catcher to add to their roster, and likely another outfielder, before they take the field in April.

This isn’t to assume that the Blue Jays are done spending, but it looks like the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox are just inches behind the supposed AL East favorites, and there’s a lot more to be done this offseason.

Mike is the co-Editor-in-Chief of It's About The Money. Outside of blogging baseball, Mike is also a musician, a runner, and a beer lover.

9 thoughts on “How Far Behind Are The Yankees?

  1. hawaii dave

    High risk, high reward….sounds about right to me.

    • Deep Blue

      High risk oft injured players sounds like more hype than reality to me. Marlins were a last place team with that squad.

      • TieClark

        Except the Jays aren’t the Marlins. They just added the Marlins best pieces (minus Stanton) to a team that already had Bautista, Encarnacion, Lawrie, Morrow etc. as well as adding the NL Cy Young winner and upgrading in LF.

  2. Duh, Innings!

    87 wins for the 2013 Yankees is a ludicrous projection considering the 2008 Yankees won 89 games with an ERA 42 points higher than the 2012 Yankees, and the 2013 Yankees have a better pitching staff than the 2008 Yankees who had two good starters: Mussina and the 31 starts made by Wang (15 starts), Chamberlain (12), and Aceves (4.) The 2008 Yankees rotation after them was so bad Pettitte led all starters after them with a lousy 4.54 ERA. Kennedy, Hughes, Pavano, Ponson, Rasner, Giese, and of course Igawa were awful and Bruney’s lone start was only 2 IP.

    No way the ’13 team is worse than the ’08 team.

    95-100 wins because the offense will be upgraded either by Opening Day or before the trading deadline and the Yanks will get a pitcher or two as well.

    Melky Mesa to the Cubs for Alfonso Soriano, DH solved and I’d say 25-35 HR 90-110 RBI a year guaranteed 2013-14 at a cost of only $5M a year. Or let’s see what the 26-year old Mesa can do for the rookie minimum and still trade for Soriano to be the DH who can play some LF and RF.

    Ichiro/Jeter/Cano/Soriano/Teixiera/Youkilis/Granderson/Romine/Gardner (L/R/L/R/S/R/L/R/L.)

    Bench: Stewart/Nix/Dickerson/Diaz

    Upgrade C and/or a bench player or two during the year.

  3. Yankees underrated

    It’s quite ludicrous to think the Yankees won’t win 90 games. The biggest competitor is coming off of a 74 win season (blue jays). The O’s were extremely lucky last season and have done nothing to upgrade their roster. The Yankees loss of Swisher, Russel Martin, Soriano is more than negated by the addition of a healthy Brett Gardner, Ichiro for a full season, Healthy Pettitte, and a healthy Mariano. Not to mention possible contributions from a recovered Pineda and stud prospect reliever Mark Montgomery.

    • Chris

      I don’t think the Yankees are a bad team but come on, losing Soriano and adding Mariano is a wash. Expecting more than 67 innings, a 2.2 ERA, and 42 saves coming off major knee surgery is silly. Brett Gardner is a stellar defensive player but with the bat he’s average, overall he’s an above average player but unless they move him to CF his bat is below average for the position he plays. Ichiro is guaranteed to play worse than he did for the last month of the season, considering he played below average ball for the last season and half before becoming a Yankee expecting anything more than average baseball all around from him is beyond silly, it’s expecting the impossible. Pettitte should be a good pitcher while healhy but he hasn’t pitched 200 inning since 2008, he will be injured at some point and that will hold down his value.

      Overall I expect Gardner, Mariano, and Pettitte to be productive players, however I don’t in anyway expect them to make us a better team than last year. 95 wins is a bunch and Martin and Swisher are both vastly underrated by the Yankee fan base at large. Ichiro at this point isn’t much more than a replacement level player over a full year, when you consider he isn’t much more than a platoon right fielder, with little power, or on base ability, he doesn’t belong in the same conversation as Swisher, Mariano, or Martin.

      I still believe in the possibility of Pineda to be a stud starter for the Yankees, but just like Cashman I will pretend he doesn’t exist until he comes back.

  4. harry

    “R.A. Dickey is 38 years old.”

    I don’t understand why some Yankee fans can call Pettite a lock at 40 years old (a conventional fastball pitcher) while Dickey, at 38, is automatically knocked for his age (despite being a knuckleball pither, who age like good wine). Double standards?

    • Double standards, huh? Here’s what I said about Pettitte two weeks ago.

      In regards to pitching, the Yankees actually finished seventh in pitching fWAR in 2012, and the rotation will largely be the same come 2013, but when you’re relying on a 41 year old Andy Pettitte and a 38 year old Hiroki Kuroda to man the middle of your rotation, along with the young Ivan Nova and David Phelps, there are enough factors to worry about.

      I’m a big Dickey fan, but there isn’t enough precedent to assume that knuckleballers age well. For every Phil Niekro, you have a Tim Wakefield or Steve Sparks who regressed in their late 30’s. The Royals had the same concerns.

      • harry

        No, you’re right . Good article by the way.

Comments are closed.