A lot of ground to cover and I still owe everyone my year in review predictions (last year). For this year, I will make some but I am a little behind.
I will look forward first so that I can get these in before game 1. Here are some of the questions I have received:
1) Why didn’t the Yankees just re-sign Matsui and Damon
I covered this a few times before, but my belief was I would have resigned Matsui for the 5-6 mil it would have cost because he would have paid for himself in marketing to Japan. That being said, I think the Yankees did a terrific job in getting Nick Johnson once the Yankees made the mistake of letting Matsui go. I would not be surprised if NJ had a better OPS than Matsui and NJ might even be healthier, but dollar wise I think Matsui was less expensive. Overall, I am not too concerned though.
As for Damon, I also have chronicled that I think Gardner’s overall value is on par with Damon’s when you take Gardner’s extra bases with SB’s and his stellar defense into account. But, the truth is Granderson is replacing Damon and outside of me being one of the only people who seems to think Granderson should be platooned and will not be able to play against lefties, I would rather Granderson on my team instead of Damon.
2) Who should play CF?
I would rather play Gardner is CF and Granderson in LF. However, I am not strong in my opinion. Granderson will end up being platooned after awhile so I believe Gardner will end up in CF 20% of the time anyway (assuming Granderson does play against lefties he has a good matchup against). Maybe they don’t want to move Granderson back and forth but don’t mid if Gardner does? I just think Gardner’s elite speed is better in CF, but Granderson is no slouch so it is not worth losing sleep over.
3) Can Gardner really be our starting LF?
Well, his weak offense does not look as good in CF, but again I am hopeful he can slightly improve on his .724 OPS (not sure I would predict it though) and with his defense he saves a lot of runs. If you figure he can save 3 bases a week in CF he should be able to save 2 bases a week in LF and along with his SB’s that would make his OPS the equivalent of around .825 compared to an average defensive LF.
4) Who will win the right handed hitting platoon role and will this be good?
Marcus Thames has won the job. He has very good power and should have a solid OPS against lefties, but his defense is very poor. I would expect him to either start against tough lefties or pinch hit at key moments late in the game when we are down. He could also DH if needed against lefties.
5) What did you think of the Bruney trade?
I liked Bruney a little more than most, but I trusted Cashman had someone he liked in the rule 5 draft. Something tells me a guy he thought would be there was not and then the Yanks took Jamie Hoffman. Jamie was an interesting guy as his defense was excellent everywhere, but I guess they felt he can’t hit as the Yanks offered him back to the Dodgers who took him back. Overall, Cashman made a mistake here as Bruney was given away for nothing.
6) What did you think about the Randy Winn signing?
I didn’t really understand this signing. It was only a little over a mil, but with Hoffman already on the roster, we had a good defensive player who doesn’t hit so I didn’t get it. Wynn is not better against lefties so I am not really sure of the fit. Now it is possible that last year was just a down year for him, but at his age down years are not usually an aberration. I don’t expect much from Wynn, but the signing was worse because of Hoffman. Once Hoffman was released I guess Wynn could be used in RF to spell Swisher, possibly play for Gardner or possibly platoon for Granderson, but not a great move IMO.
7) What did you think of the Vazquez trade?
Really liked it! Vazquez is a very good #4 and if he did really learn in Atlanta could be an absolute finding of gold! I expect somewhere in the middle and would hope he could give us an ERA around 4 and hopefully just south of it. I am drinking the Kool-Aid that he did learn something in Atlanta as he did pitch really well. Yes, it was the NL and I am very guarded about that; especially from a guy who never showed that ability in all of his AL years. He won’t duplicate what he did in Atlanta, but I would not be surprised if he was better than he has been in the AL. I also think Boone Logan may be able to support us in the bullpen as I like having 2 lefties in the pen.
8) Who should be our 5th starter?
From the start I felt Hughes would win the job and Joba would be in the pen. The Yankees felt the same way I believe. I like Aceves and think he could start as well, but Hughes will be given a great opportunity and I think he will show good promise this year.
9) Is Joba the setup guy/will he ever start?
Joba is a tough one. I don’t think we will see those 98-100 MPH days anymore. I am saddened about that because he was VERY exciting too watch. I do think he can be a good setup guy, but he better throw 95+ to go along with the great slider. I think his mindset is better suited for a bullpen guy. I know starters are worth a lot more, but I think he settles into the bullpen role and I really hope he is good enough to grab the setup role because we have some good arms out there.
10) Is Chan Ho Park going to help?
This was interesting because the Yankees players said he was very tough to hit. The numbers showed that he was a guy who did very well out of the pen but struggled as a starter. People are saying he is the setup guy, but I am not sold that he is better than Robertson, Ace or Joba for that matter. The good part is those are some pretty good righty arms to go along with Marte is getting the ball to the Genius Maker
My quick Vegas prediction…
The Yanks will win more than 95 games (that is the over under in Vegas) as long as they stay in “normal” health for a major league team