Apr 2, 2012, 1:00 PM EDT
Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2012 season. Up next: The New York Yankees.
The Big Question: Are the Yankees the best team in baseball?
The Yankees won 97 games last year and then they went out and fixed what most people considered to be their biggest problem: lack of starting pitching depth. That, plus the fact that they were six games ahead of the competition, and that the competition didn’t go crazy over the winter, has to make them the favorites this season, right?
I think so. Even with Michael Pineda ailing as the season gets underway, the addition of he and Hiroki Kuroda — and the elimination of A.J. Burnett and what I think will be an improvement in Phil Hughes, no matter where he pitches — makes the Yankees staff extremely formidable. Between what is now a deep rotation and the deadly 1-2 combination of David Robertson and Mariano Rivera in the late innings, there are few if any teams who can match the Yankees’ arms.
And of course the bats are there too. They’re boringly good, of course. What I mean by that is that it’s so expected and ho-hum by now that the Yankees are going to score a lot of runs, that it is hardly remarked upon during spring training. Think about it: how many times have you heard Robinson Cano or Curtis Granderson mentioned in the last month? Not much. Because there isn’t much to say beyond “they’ll score at least 850 runs even if they have Raul Ibanez in the lineup.” Ho-hum.
Anyway, you can try to make an argument that there is a more complete team than the Yankees right now. And I might entertain said arguments from Rangers fans. But unless father time catches up with five of these guys at once, I think the Yankees get the nod as the top team in the league.
What else is going on?
- I mentioned Ibanez. That’s brutal stuff, man. He had a bad year last year and has looked awful in spring training. While Andruw Jones mashes lefties just fine, the left-handed part of the Yankees’ DH platoon is going to stink on ice, methinks. Shoulda kept Jorge.
- Speaking of old dudes from the glory days, Andy Pettitte is back and should be joining the rotation at some point during the season. Again I’ll offer the Pineda health caveat, but it seems to me that people are really underestimating the fact that the Yankees brought in three above average starting pitchers this winter to join what was a 97-win team.
- There is another potential weakness here, and it’s akin to “half of the DH platoon sucking.” It’s the lack of a solid lefty in the pen. Boone Logan ain’t exactly vintage Jesse Orosco. Of course, having a great lefty in the pen is not the most important thing on the planet. If that’s one of your biggest problems, you have a decidedly high class set of problems.
- As mentioned above, one possible weakness here is age. If Jeter, Rivera, A-Rod and maybe, I dunno, Mark Teixeira suddenly went Dale Murphy on us, yes, it could be a horrible season. But people have been saying that about these guys for years. It’s an older team, sure. But their best hitter (Cano) and their best pitcher (Sabathia) are not particularly gray, so it’s more of a storyline/narrative issue than it is serious strategic issue. One of the veterans could implode and the team would OK. Maybe two could.
So how are they gonna do?
They’re my choice for first place in the east. And I think you’re being a little too cute or optimistic about the Red Sox, Rays or maybe even the Blue Jays if you pick otherwise.
- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights 55
- Astros vendor brings snow cones into bathroom stall, gets fired 34
- Don Mattingly will still be the Dodgers’ manager on Friday 12
- Jake Westbrook feeling lingering discomfort in right elbow 3
- Las Vegas police investigating Jose Canseco as a suspect in sexual assault case 65
- MLB is putting players in camouflage uniforms on Memorial Day. Which is kinda weird. (117)
- Barry Bonds: Miguel Cabrera is the best … but not as good as me (111)
- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights (81)
- Albert Pujols doesn’t matter anymore (74)
- And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights (70)
- LeBron stuns Pacers with OT winner in Game 1
- Pens overwhelm Sens, take 3-1 series lead
- Tiger calls Sergio's comments inappropriate, hurtful
- Bears great Urlacher announces retirement
- HBT: Canseco suspect in Vegas sexual assault
- Posnanski on Golf: Sergio shows disdain for Tiger
- OlyTalk: Coach K will lead Team USA in Rio Games