Thursday, January 12, 2012

Patience is not a bad word

Listen to Axl. All we need is just a little patience.

Some Yankee fans have expressed their displeasure with the Yankees not improving. It's not necessarily because they believe the Yanks have to improve, but it's because others around them are. Which is a reasonable stance to take.

For one, the Red Sox were in a great position in 2011 to win the AL East before taking a major nose-dive, and it would be down-right insane to expect something like that to happen again. And you have to believe Carl Crawford will improve after putting up the worst batting average and on-base percentage of his career, second-worst slugging percentage since 2003 (his 1st full season in MLB), his lowest SB output since 2002 when he only played in 63 games, etc. And it's not like he was putting up better numbers in a different division, as he's spent his entire 10 year career in the AL East. Then there's the fact that Kevin Youkilis (a guy that I don't like, but will admit is good) and JD Drew each missed a large portion of the season. The Sox still have work to do on their rotation, which is even more questionable than the Yankees current crop of starters, but they too are in on guys such as Hiroki Kuroda.

The Rays were 6 games worse than the Bombers last season, yet they still won 91 games. But remember that Matt Moore only started 1 game for them last season, and his presence in the starting rotation all season will have a nice impact for sure. I'm not sure about Jeff Niemenn's back, but a full year out of him, holding down the back-end of the rotation with Jeremy Hellickson, will round out a very nice starting rotation. I do question the Rays offense though, as they scored the least amount of runs in the division in 2011 (707), and bringing in Luke Scott doesn't exactly make it any better.

The Toronto Blue Jays aren't going away quietly either. If they can find a way to better their run prevention, then I could definitely see them finishing 3rd in the division, and battle it out for the 2nd Wild Card berth next season. The Jays major concern when it came to giving up runs was their bullpen, which owner Alex Anthopoulos has done a good job of improving after bringing in Darren Oliver and Sergio Santos, as well as bringing back Jason Frasor. Not that their starters are all set, as they could use an improvement at the bottom where Jo-Jo Reyes and Kyle Drabek put up ERAs of 5.40 and 6.06 respectively. If Dustin McGowan, who is finally coming back after 3+ years with major shoulder issues, can be more like what we saw in 2007 and 2008, that would certainly help. And the Jays were in rumor talks regarding Matt Garza. Although that's cooled off quite a bit, it shows that Anthopoulos may not be finished.

And then there are the Yankees.... what have they done this off-season? Well, first and foremost, they brought back CC Sabathia, who was only days away from being a free agent. The Yanks also picked up the team option on Nick Swisher, which wasn't as much a no-brainer as bringing back CC was, but the idea of Beltran replacing Swish was not a great one anyway. That was followed by bringing back Freddy Garcia and Andruw Jones. There have been little things like signing Don Mattingly's son, Preston, to a minor league deal too. But I think the biggest change is going to be Jesus Montero being the full-time DH, in place of Jorge Posada. Bill James is predicting a triple-slash of .289/.351/.505 for Jesus, which is a slight upgrade from the triple-slash of 235/.315/.398 that Posada put up last year. Of course things would get better if Alex Rodriguez can give the team at least 130 games too (he only played in 99 in 2011). But nothing has really changed on the team from the end of last season. 8 of the 9 spots in the lineup are going to be the same, 4 of the 5 rotation spots will be filled by the same guys (Hughes will likely take Colon's spot), the bullpen is pretty much exactly the same (even moreso now that Corey Wade will be back), and even the bench has changed very little.

Whlie I believe the Yankees don't have to do anything more in order to compete for another division title, and to make a run at a 28th World Series victory, it would make things much simpler if they did (not that it would actually be simple no matter what). I'd sure has hell feel better if they were able to get a pitcher that could easily slot into the #2 or #3 spot. All in all though this comes down to the impatience of New Yorkers, and New York Yankees fans. We're certainly not used to seeing a team that's used the term "budget" when it comes to weighing free agent signings. But this is the way things are now, and I... for one.. am happy to see it. Caring about spending money now may allow the team to have the killer pitching duo of CC Sabathia and Cole Hamels in 2013 and beyond.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)