Sunday, December 31, 2006

Is 2007 The Year of 27?

Great, its a new year. Let's look to the new season, and be thankful that Pitchers and Catchers is less than two months away. Now on to business:

It has been 6 long seasons since the last championship. 3 Seasons since we've made it to the Fall Classic. OK, fine, I know its not a Bostonian or Cub-like drought. And I know that 6 seasons is a lot shorter than the 18 seasons between championships (78-96) before, but, we are the Yankees - right?

I mean, by the numbers, we are overdue if we go longer than 4 seasons without another championship. So let's take a look to see if this drought is finally going to come to an end..

As of 1/1/2007, anyway, here's our batting lineup:

(L) Damon CF, (R) Jeter SS, (L) Abreu RF, (R) A-Rod 3B, (L) Matsui LF, (L) Giambi DH, (S) Posada C, (L) Cano 2B, (R) Phillips/Phelps 1B

On the Bench: Cabrera (for now), Promising OFs Kevin Reese, Kevin Thompson

We don't know the status of Bernie Williams yet, and we are in need of an infielding platooner. Is Wil Nieves truly a back up for Posada? Question marks - but at least our question marks are about who is coming off of the bench, not holes to fill in the starting lineup. And, if the lineup is healthy - that is a pretty damn good line up that should eat up pitching no matter who they're facing (Dice-K included!). This lineup will hit for average, power, speed, it has it all. And will probably be not only of the most productive in MLB this season, but more like one of the most productive of All-Time. What's up.

Starting Pitching: (R) Wang, (L) Pettitte, (R) Mussina, (R) Pavano, (L) Igawa, (L) Johnson for now, (R) Karstens, (R) Rasner, (R) Hughes

Bull Pen: (R) Rivera, (R) Farnsworth, (R) Proctor, (R) Sanchez, (L) Myers, (L) Chas Wright?

OK, clearly we are a little light in the Left Handed Pitching dept. I don't expect Johnson to be around for 2007 (as I have stated on several occasions in the past) which is fine - why? Because I think that Darryl Rasner and Karstens are good quality pitchers that just need an open door to take advantage of. Perhaps, if there are no spots on the starting squad, they'll get some time in long Middle Relief mop up, but they very much could be a factor. Its not a matter of IF, but WHEN for Hughes - I for one, think the hype is getting a tad old, and want to see what he can do in the Bigs. And, not that there is any evidence of this for sure - just a hunch and my shameless bias toward underdogs, I think Pavano is out to prove something and is going to be all business in 2007. All in all, when you look at the shortcomings in the pitching staff, who doesn't have a need for another lefty coming out of the bull pen? And while there are other formidable pitching rotations, is there really going to be an all around better one if we can have Wang, Mussina, and a healthy Pettitte and Pavano? No there's not. The Yanks will have the best pitching top to bottom in 2007.

When you look at the offensive lineup, that gets a grade of an A. And a solid A at that. It is the kind of line up that will get us to the post season alone regardless of who's pitching for us. But we could give a crap about the regular season, our goal is to win during the real season that starts and ends in October and we're going to need pitching for that. The starting pitching gets an A- with three of the 5 starting spots (Wang, Mussina, and Pettitte) spoken for with proven talent, and 6 capable athletes vying for the final 2. As mentioned earlier, no one, has a better starting rotation heading into Spring Training than the Yanks. Let's see what can carry forward though. Bull pen gets a B . Greatest closer in the world with the durable Proctor and the occasional Farnsworth will get us through most situations and is probably in the top 4 for closing situations right there. However, I think we very much need a Lefty like a vintage Mike Stanton type to get us through some jams though. Maybe Chas Wright, who has good numbers, will be the answer, but its a unknown, and that's why the B. But let's make this clear right now, its a B, but is still Better than everyone else's.

Throw in that intangible. You know, that play for something attitude, fueled by the anger as a result of being kicked out in the first round two years in a row, and Jeter's desire to prove he can win without Paul O'Neill, and A-Rod's desire to prove he's not a bust, and Matsui's desire to show he's back and ready to go, and Cano to show that he's no flash in the pan, and on and on and on and I would say, that there is an over whelming amount of evidence that 2007 is in fact, the year of championship number 27.

That is the ultimate prize of course, but I'm not stopping there. In 2007, this squad will surpass the 1998 team record for wins, will have an AL MVP, AL Batting Champion, and a CY Young finalist.

2007 - This Is Going To Be Our Year.

Happy New Year to everyone and everywhere except in the Greater New England Area!

11 comments:

The Scooter said...

From a Yankee fan in the "GREATER NEW ENGLAND AREA", I have to give you props for a pretty good breakdown and analysis of the '07 team.

I have a couple points though:

1. I still don't think Cashman is going to go into the season with Phillips/Phelps at first base. I really think that for lack of a better option he will get the Doug Mientkiewicz deal done. While I don't necessarily love this move, I'll give Cashman the benefit of the doubt.

2. I don't see Roger Clemens on your pitching staff. If the trade for the Unit comes off, it will be for two reason....Stocking up on young arms to make a run for Santana and/or Dontrelle when they become available...and making The Rocket happy. Pettite told Cash that he thinks he can deliver Clemens but under no circumstances will Roger pitch on the same team as Randy Johnson.

3. I've asked this before, but WHAT in God's name is this blog's facination with Kartsens and Rasner? These guys will wind up being journymen fifth starters AT BEST..and will more likely be career minor leaugers. They are not highly touted by anyone but you.

4. Back up catcher has more importance than you might think. Posada will be 36 years old in August and while he had a great year in '06, lets face it he's playing on borrowed time. He needs every fourth day off at minimum.

All that being said, I agree that '07 should be the year for #27. They certainly have enough to get into the playoffs, and if their pitching stays healthy and A-Rod shows up (the biggest IF in my book) then another ring is forthcoming.

Middle Relief said...

I agree that he's searching for a better option at 1B - I thought I read somewhere that Mientkiewicz had signed with someone but missed that one, so yes a real possibility. Maybe Cairo can come back as our infielder.

I'm holding off on the spec of Clemens, I think its going to happen but don't want to get ahead of myself. - that'll be a New Year's celebration of its own.

On Karstens and Rasner here's my deal: Karstens was two errors and one bull pen hold from being 7-1 and is only 24 yrs old. Rasner,25 yrs old was 3-1 in 6 games. The 1 loss was pretty bad, but the three wins was impressive and has been absolutely lights out in the winter league.

So, Yeah, I'm high on them - and true no one else is, but they are young arms and would rather have them than not.

old professor said...

The Yankees will keep Phelps because he is a rule 5 pick. I can't see them returning him plus $25K to another team. Why all of the excitement with Mientkiewicz? He is not going to hit any better than Phelps or Philips and he is not that much better defensively than Philips.

Platooning Philips and Phelps is not that big of an issue when you look at the rest of the lineup.

I still find it difficult to see the Yankees trading Johnson. A comparison of his six seasons in Arizona had him averaging 17 wins and 8 loses. In New York,he averaged 17 wins and 9 loses. Yes the ERA was higher in NY - let's face facts,it is harder to pitch in a league with the DH then in a league where the pitcher hits ninth and the number eight hitter is usually a defensive player with a low batting average.

It will be hard to find a replacement for the rotation. Wang becoming the number one starter in the rotation may not be so successful. In his first two seasons Wang faced the number 3, 4, or 5 starters from other clubs. The Yankees have a high degree of success against those pitchers and gave Wang the opportunity to relax. He won't have the same luxury against team's number one.

For the Rocket to pitch for the Yankees, he will have to commit for a full year not a year starting in June. He will also have to give up the idea of being home on days he is not pitching.

As for a backup infielder - Philips can play third and second. In a pinch move him to third and let A-Rod sub at short (can't see Jeter taking much time off if that becomes the option).

As for the lack of a lefty in the pen, Chas Wright may be the choice; they may also gamble with Henn. Not having another lefty is not that much of a problem if your other relievers prove to be effective.

The Scooter said...

Prof,

I agree about Mientkiewicz. But all the buzz around him seems to certify that Cashman doesn't have much faith in a Phillips/Phelps platoon. Again on this one I'll give Cashman the benefit of the doubt as he knows his team better than I do.

All the talk about Clemens seems to be that the Yankees will indeed ask him to pitch a full year. If that's the case, there is your direct replacement for Johnson. By stockpiling young arms, I still believe that the Yankees are setting themselves up for an ACE that will be undoubtedly offered up at the trade deadline. Can the twins pay Johan Santana or will they have to auction him off? Will the Marlins finally pull the trigger on a deal for Dontrelle? Are one of the Oakland starters (Harden) worth making a trade for?

As for the lefty in the pen, I still think that they will re-sign Vallone. Admittedly, I no absolutely nothing about Chas Wright.

As for Wang, I think the Yankees will go into the season without a clear cut #1 starter, rather a 1A; 1B; and 1C in Petitte, Moose and Wang, so the pressure shouldn't be as great as you might think.

MR said...

USA Today reporting deal between D-Backs and Yanks is done. RJ to D-Backs in exchange for two minor leagues and one MLB relief.

Good Riddance!

The Scooter said...

Mientkiewicz is in New York to take a physical.

Crash said...

Actually I just heard on ESPN News, we got 4 players for RJ. One is already in the MLB as a releiver (Vizcaino) and 3 minor leaguers.

Anonymous said...

how much of this year's salary are we paying?

Also, looks like Doug M. deal is done, too bad for Phelps/Phillips would have liked to see them sink or swim.

old professor said...

With the trade of RJ to Arizona, the Yankee rotation is not one that will put fear into many lineups. The rotation includes a Japanese import that has never pitched in the major leagues and Carl Pavano who has not pitched in the majors in 1 1/2 years. The Yankees get four players in return for Johnson. Vizciano is a 32 year old major league journeyman reliever who will be a free agent at the end of the season, two good young pitching prospects and the top defensive shortstop in the Arizona farm system (why exactly would the Yankees need a 22 years old shortstop - by the time Jeter's contract is up the kid would be 28 years old and could opt for Rule 5).

The Yankees do save money they have agreed to pay $2 million of Johnson's salary for 2007.

This trade could actually clear the way for putting Proctor in the starting rotation, which is something Cashman and Torre said in December.

Anonymous said...

Yanks only picking up $2mm of hist contract. Not a bad savings. Get over Johnson leaving - he was negative, ERA going through the roof, and in serious decline. Anybody could have won 34 games with the Yanks the last two years.

The Scooter said...

The Yanks re-signed Miguel Cairo for one year at $750,000.

No surprise here. They kicked the tires on Loretta but once he signed elsewhere, Cairo was a no-brainer. Good in the clubhouse, solid defense and baserunning off the bench...I don't have a problem with this.

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