This Lineup Tells You Everything You Need To Know

1) Brett Gardner– CF
2) Eduardo Nunez– SS
3) Robinson Cano– 2B
4) Kevin Youkilis– 3B
5) Vernon Wells– DH
6) Juan Rivera– 1B
7) Brennan Boesch– RF
8) Ichiro Suzuki– LF
9) Francisco Cervelli– C

That, or some similar variation of that, is what the New York Yankee starting lineup is going to look like one week from today.  It’s a far cry from what the lineup has been the last few years and a far cry from what the lineup was expected to be this season, but it actually perfectly encapsulates everything the Yankees are right now.  It shows how they’re an old, injured team with a lot of payroll tied up in its older, injured players.  It shows how the self-imposed payroll crunch has limited the team’s ability to seek out trade and free agent options that best meet its needs.  And it shows how little impact MiL depth the team has in its own farm system to help overcome the injuries and lack of big-time trade/FA activity.

We aren’t quite into “darkest timeline” territory yet, but it’s getting close and the Wells trade that’s expected to be finalized today does signal dark times in Yankeeland.  This is a team and an organization handcuffed by its own future plans, plans that don’t allow for wiggle room to address problems in the present and result in the front office agreeing to take on $13 million for a player who’s barely worth $1.3 million at this stage in his career.  Some of the other guys and gals might come on here later today and try to find some positives in this mess, and more power to them for trying.  I just don’t have the energy to try to do that right now, and I definitely don’t have the right shade of lipstick to put on this pig.

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.

45 thoughts on “This Lineup Tells You Everything You Need To Know

  1. I just can't get past the "taking on salary" part of this one. This is the team that couldn't afford to sign Martin, Swisher or Chavez. How can they now afford to pay 13 mil. for a train wreck? Desperation is a foul-smelling thing.

    If he were to be released mid-season, or before the '14 season would his salary count against the cap next year?

    • You don't sign Nick Swisher because he wants too many years. At the end of his deal w/ Cleveland that contract is going to be a burden. You don't want to re-sign Russell Martin to a multi-year deal either. The guy hit .198 until September last season, I'm sure Chris Stewart can muster more than that at a fraction of the cost. Chavez was too bad, but how much longer are you going to gamble on his bad back?

      • Martin's BABIP was about 60 points below his career level, and he still put up 2+ oWAR. Yeah, Martin wasn't a world-beater, but he was a very good defender and pretty well above average offensively for a catcher. There is absolutely no question that he's better than the island of misfit toys the Yankees will be sending out to the backstop this year.

      • Agree as the Martin and Swisher. Chavez is a very important missing piece. Especially considering that they already knew that ARod was in need of surgery. Chavez changes so much. A lefty who can platoon with Youkilis. Now, he would also be a lefty who would platoon with Rivera at first. A very solid bat to put in the line up when the team wants to overload the roster with lefties. He is a rarity, a lefty 3B.

    • Situations change. The team that passed on those three players had a healthy Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira. Martin and Swisher would have impacted their 2014 salary cap, whereas it appears that Wells won't.

      I am not a huge fan of the move. But given their 2014 situation and current injury concerns, I don't mind taking a flyer on a guy who has been really good(albeit overpaid) in the past and who's apparently looked good this spring.

  2. I'm sorry, but it's impossible to be this depressed about a baseball team in March. The Yankees are going to have to lean on their pitching staff in April-May until the reinforcements arrive. The staff and bullpen have been very solid. This is an area where we have been able to cultivate from within pretty well.

    The lineup is going to have to be scrappy and look to swipe bags at the top w/ Gardner and Nunez. They will look to win lots of close games just like Baltimore did in 2012. If they can hang in there until June-July, they will make a summertime run like always. At the end of the day its going to be a dog-fight for the division. By the end of the year IF the Yankees get healthy, I think they can take the division.

    That's pretty much the plan. Cashman is trying his hardest to not overpay in this inflated market. But he's also trying to hold onto his blue-chip hitting prospects at the same time. After shipping off the last two (Montero & Austin Jackson), he's gotta be kicking himself for the current lack of hitting depth. He's in a tough spot. If Vernon Wells was basically traded for a cash dump, why not take the deal? I don't see many other offers out there that don't require trading off one of our young talented OF prospects.

  3. Bloggers please forgive me. But I like to think I tell it like I see it. Jason has always been very supportive and he may not want to hear this. Anyway since this merger with TYA the tone of the blogs here have in my opinion taken on a decidedly negative tone about almost everything Yankee.
    Now is everything the Yankees/Cashman and Girardi do perfect? Absolutely not. But you would think based on the tone of many of the blogs lately you would think this was an organization one step below the Marlins. Instead of an organization and a management team that has had the enormous success they have had for such a prolonged time.
    I wish the tone wasn't what it is because I for one am willing to see how not only this trade plays out but how the season progresses BEFORE I stand in line to criticize the organization. The poster Tom C's very 1st paragraph probably says it much better then I ever could.

    • I don't think this is a TYA thing; it's a general disgust for the recent moves. I'm usually one to side with Cashman but this Wells thing is awful, awful, awful.Now maybe he is simply filling the Teix/WBC loophole with Wells' contract and netting neutral, but it stinks.Let the team try to raise its own players. Otherwise just trade the farm for guys like Stanton.

      • Why is it so awful? As you mentioned, this is a purely cash-in, cash-out deal with the WBC insurance payday. What other deal was out there for a solid bat that didn't depend on the Yankees throwing in one of their young minor-league OFs? This is a wash for a one year rental. Wells has been smoking the ball all spring and seems to have a chip on his shoulder. He fills the need for a right handed OF bench bat (once occupied by Andruw Jones) and is supposedly off the books in 2014. What is the big loss here?

        • Because there is no need to pay one red cent for a guy like Wells. Because it implies there's no confidence in the kids. Because it takes up a roster seat. BECAUSE HE IS STILL VERNON WELLS, MASTER OF CRAPPY DEFENSE AND A SUB-.300 OBP!

          I've always been a cheerleader for ownership and this team. This move, however, blows my mind.

          • Confidence in which kids? Kid Neal? Kid Fransisco? Kid Rivera? I haven't read anywhere that anyone thinks Austin, Williams, or Heathcott is ready now. So, confidence in whom? Almonte? If you want to have confidence in Mustelier (not really a kid) try having it a third base. Melky 2.0? Mr. Wells, for all of his admitted flaws, will actually on occasion make contact with a baseball….

          • I know he was worth -37.6 runs defensively his last 3 years in Toronto, but the last 2 years in Anaheim he's been worth +6.1 runs defensively according to Fangraphs. He's really up and down according to all the defensive metrics. (+25.2 the previous 4 years in Toronto, then -27.1 the 1st 2 years in Toronto before that).

      • My friend and please understand this comment in no way is meant for you. But I get the impression and perhaps I'm 100% wrong and if I am I apologize. But I get the impression that with some of the writers the Steinbrenner Family, Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi can't do anything right. Like a couple of the posters here have said and I'm paraphrasing but to to be so negative about the team in March just defies logic. I shouldn't have to say it but I will…that's just my opinion.

        • You're entitled. No one thinks they are idiots. Most support Girardi and Cashman and the Steinbrenners but that doesn't preclude anyone for questioning decisions.

    • Sometimes, teams perform badly. Honest analysis will sometimes forecast poor performance. I don't think foreboding over the upcoming Yankee season is unique to this blog.

    • Thanks for posting this. Between you and Tom C, I can't add anything more to this. The tone of the comments has taken a disturbing turn and appears to be coming mostly from fans who came of age in the last 15-20 years who never saw what you and I saw from 1965-75 and again from 1982-92. If you lived through those eras, particularly the first one, you'd sign up for this team in a heartbeat. If they go 72-90, so be it. But what you have here is a team that should win 85-90 games which in this division might be enough. Or not. Let's see.

  4. I refuse to not be optimistic. This could be a pretty good team or a not very good team, but I'm leaning toward the positive unless proven otherwise. Obviously it will depend on how things play out. I think we have excellent starting pitching and a lights out bullpen. I think Nunez will surprise and Youkilis and Hafner will also do well. It's not like we're losing our injured players forever. Jeter will be back within a couple of weeks, Hughes will miss maybe one turn, Granderson in a month, A-Rod at the All Star Break, hopefully Teixeria maybe sooner. Pineda should help at mid season as well. From what I heard they're paying Wells all $13M this year and so he'll be free next year. I think Cashman is trying to catch lightning in a bottle like he did with Andreuw Jones and so many others.

  5. Brad – there is always hope. Wasn't it just a year ago that the Yankees flogged a good pitcher who had just had 3 horrible years?

    And iirc, that pitcher had a pretty darned good year with his new team.

    I'll agree – the Wells trade/pickup/whatever looks dreadful. But what if he plays the part of AJ (Pirates version) or Swish when he gets here? Ozzie traded Swish for a box of rocks; we paid to get rid of AJ.

    Not holding my breath – but wth – unless you replace Cashman in the next few hours, we're stuck with him. I'm willing to at least HOPE that he has something left in the tank.

    • For what it's worth, I can see Wells giving the Yankees something along the line of Ibanez's 2012. Wells' power hasn't really dissipated as he's aged and lost what little plate discipline he did have and, so long as he isn't pulling everything, that should help in NYS. I tweeted something about this, but he has hit 12 HR in 335 AB between the two Yankee Stadiums … I'd take that in part-time duty.

      However, I don't really like the Swisher comp. Swisher was 28 when the Yankees nabbed him, and his underlying statistical profile (particularly BABIP) suggested that his down year was something of a fluke. Most folks praised that deal when it went down. Wells is 34 and has been flat-out awful in three of his last four seasons … which doesn't really jibe with Swisher at all.

      The Burnett comp, however, could work. NY fans have no expectations for Wells, and he won't have the target on his back for his $21 MM salary … at least, I don't think he will.

      • Fair nuff – I honestly didn't remember Swish's body of work with Chicago – only that he was firmly in the doghouse and management was happy to see him go.

  6. Just want to offer some perspective from a Red Sox fan that has also had to deal with diminished expectations this year. You know what… if you let it, it feels great! I'm 100% serious. As a Red Sox fan, I now have the opportunity of rooting for players to do better than I expect them to, rather than dreading the spectacle of under-performance. I just get to watch baseball, instead of hoping that my sense of entitlement gets fulfilled, and then getting frustrated and upset when it doesn't.

    Whatever happens this year, I feel like it's a gift for me as a fan, to just relax and watch a bunch of grown men run around a field, hit balls with a stick, etc. etc. Losing a baseball game is not the worst thing that ever happened to anyone.

    I'm also excited for the rivalry to maybe get toned down accordingly. I sure as hell won't be rooting for you (ha!), but watching two radically different teams square off should just be good fun, rather than ego-shattering or boosting. I wish you guys good luck, and have fun in not knowing what's coming next. Just support your guys and I'll support mine, and que sera sera sera sera.

    • Exactly this:

      I now have the opportunity of rooting for players to do better than I expect them to, rather than dreading the spectacle of under-performance. I just get to watch baseball, instead of hoping that my sense of entitlement gets fulfilled, and then getting frustrated and upset when it doesn't.

      Thanks for posting that.

    • EXACTLY. My buddy—who used to have his own Yankee blog back in the day—always remarks how much he misses the excitement of the '96 team. Now, with the team's "anything less than a championship is a failure" edict and the pressure that goes along with it, it does seem to suck the fun out of rooting for them just a bit.

      • I agree with this. It makes everything more anxiety riddled for me. I miss being that team that people don't expect to do well but does.

        Having such high expectations all the time is almost exhausting for the fan base as well.

    • I hate to admit that a Red Sox fan has a point about anything, but shit, you've got one hell of a point.

    • I will buy a Vernon Wells jersey and change my Twitter handle to a picture of me wearing it while eating a piece of humble pie if Vernon Wells is worth 2.5 fWAR this season.

  7. I'm extremely angry that they are doing this in Rivera's final year. They should have tried to go all in to give the Babe Ruth of his position a proper send off.

  8. Just to be clear here, gang, I'm in no way throwing in the towel on this season. In the same way some of you are calling it like you see it with respect to the team's present position, I'm calling it like I see it as well.

    The rotation and bullpen are still very strong, They are absolutely going to have to carry the team through April-May and they're more than capable of doing so. But there are a far amount of injury landmines in those groups as well. And as far as the lineup is concerned, subbing the Rivera-Wells-Boesch-Nunez foursome in for the injured Teix-C-Grand-Jeter-A-Rod crew is a downgrade, plain and simple.

    I'm all for trying to keep some positive vibes going, but there's a certain amount of objectivity that has to come with it. Looking at things objectively, there's no way to say this team is in better shape right now than it was 2 weeks ago, 4 weeks, or 6 weeks ago when ST started.

  9. I think the guys who are out have been over rated. It’s not like ARod, Tex and Ganderson are that great. People are reacting to the name brand and not the performance on the field. Even as good as Jeter has been, he’s hardly Mr. Clutch anymore. I think this team will put the bat on the ball, hit behind runners, steal some based, still hit some homers and (the real key) pitch. If that all falls into place (I know a big IF), it will be a fun team to root for.

  10. Cash never knows when a deal is going to work in his favor as nobody can predict the future of course. But remember, he is the kung fu master because be takes calculated risks. You ship Montero for the shot at an ace for the next decade. It hasn't worked out so far, but it still might (and it's not like Montero has lit the world on fire while Pineda hasn't played). You take a shot and toss some chump change to Chavez, Druw Jones, Colon, Chief Freddy, Ibanez, and Ichiro. Somehow all 6 of those moves worked out. If they didn't, so what? It would have been minimal $ lost, not like they were blocking any ML ready guys. If any of the old guys don't work out, it's easy to give the kids a shot and see if they can pop. Take the chance to see if an old vet can provide something steady and solid rather than possibly struggle through seeing a mid to low level prospect learn the ropes for a month before guys start to return from injury. If you're not in a position to contend, then sure let the kids play. But this team is as close to a world series as any other team right now assuming their injured guys make it back ok this year.

    Here you might make the argument Wells is stealing chances from Almonte or Mesa. But let's be honest, these are not world beater prospect guys. I am curious to see what all they are capable of as well. But why not take a shot on Wells if you can do it with only some cash that is all of a sudden available (with the WBC kicking in a few mil for Tex while on the DL)? And if it only counts for 2013, even better so you can keep with plan $189. (Though I have to say if this part winds up not being true, plan $189 does look like a bit of a joke then). Wells is torching the ball this spring. Why not toss some $$ his way to see if he can keep it up for a month or 2? I will admit, it is about double what I expected the Yanx to have to pay. But be solutions oriented. You can't just say something sucks. Provide an alternative. Who else is going to give you power from the right side at this point without giving up any prospects? And don't give me the garbage about how they should have spent the $ back in Dec on Martin/Swish/Free Agent X. I am talking about right now and the current situation.

    I can't wait til Wells gets the game winning hit off the bench in the world series and we can all look back at these comments and laugh in October. But even if he doesn't, how is having another option available while only giving up some $ a bad thing? Though they both grade out pretty bad defensively, Girardi can platoon Wells/Boesch until Grandy gets back, and then use them with Hafner at DH. If Wells sucks so terribly he is actually taking wins away, you can always bring up Mesa or whoever to fill in. Everyone is talking like Wells is guaranteed to be worth negative WAR and somehow the other options are a sure bet to provide positive value.

    The real ace in Cash's sleeve is the team he GMs for. I am the biggest saber proponent out there. But something about the Yankees can be rejuvenating for an old washed up vet. The history of the organization and the reputation they have is that they are expected to win. I believe this can be motivating for a player to somehow rise to a higher level. In addition, by all accounts, Wells had accepted his role and said all the right things as being the highest paid reserve in the MLB. Maybe I'm searching for something that isn't really there, but the ingredients are present for Wells to surprise everyone and succeed. I believe he has a better shot at producing his career wRC+ against lefties (118) than his awful last 2 years, and I think he winds up being this year's Ibanez in terms of production and provides 1 or 1.5 WAR for them, which would be almost equivalent to the $6.5 million the Yanx spent on him for this year.

  11. I'm pretty sure I saw Joe Girardi with his arm lopped off. So maybe this is the darkest timeline.

    The only silver lining I can see is if they can hang tough until May, and there are no further setbacks with Jeter, Grandy, and Tex, those guys could push them towards the playoffs. But it is no guarantee at all with this lineup that they can hang tough until they come back.

    Oh, and fortunately they have enough moveable pieces that they can restock the system at the trade deadline if it all goes to hell.

  12. I just looked it up and Ibanez is also MASHING this spring for Seattle: .366/.409/.756 in 41 ABs with 4 HRs, 4 2Bs, 13 RBIs. Hafner: .135/.233/.324 in 37 ABs with 2 HRs, 1 2B, 5 RBIs. Ibanez come back :(

  13. Jason, I have to say this move definitely created the best and funniest headline I've seen in awhile (courtesy of Jeff Sullivan over at Fangraphs): Yankees Acquire Vernon Wells on Purpose –

    "… with the Angels, Wells still hit for some power, posting a .187 ISO. He homered once per 22 plate appearances. Between 2011-2012, Nelson Cruz, Adam Dunn, and Mike Trout also homered once per 22 plate appearances."

    Wells's Angels' splits:
    – vs. RHP: .202/.232/.376
    – vs. LHP: .266/.312/.481

    – Home: .208/.244/.355
    – Road: .236/.272/.464

    • Thank you for this one as well. Take more from the past 2 years not the past 2 weeks