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Yankees Hot Tub Time Machine

Dec 18, 2013, 1:18 PM EDT

hot tub time machine

It just gets better and better with the New York Yankees. They just signed Brian Roberts.

I wrote before (in my Ichiro Suzuki essay for the 100 greatest players) that this Yankees team would look awfully good … in 2006. But by essentially replacing Robinson Cano with Brian Roberts, they have — in a weird way — gotten even older. Roberts best year was probably 2005, which you will note is actually BEFORE 2006.

Here is the Yankees starting lineup … and what was probably each player’s best season:

C: Brian McCann (2006 with Atlanta): .333/.388/.572, 24 homers, 93 RBis.

1B: Mark Teixeira (2005 with Texas): .301/.379/.575, 43 homers, 144 RBIs, 112 runs, Gold Glove.

2B: Brian Roberts (2006 with Baltimore): .314/.387/.515, 45 doubles, 18 homers, 27 steals, 92 runs.

SS: Derek Jeter (1999 with Yankees): .349/.438/.552 with 24 homers, 102 RBIs, 134 runs, 219 hits.

3B: Alex Rodriguez: (2007 with Yankees): .314/.422/.645, 54 homers, 156 RBIs, 143 runs, 24 steals.

LF: Alfonso Soriano (2002 with Yankees): .300/.332/.547, 39 homers, 41 steals, 102 RBIs, 128 runs.

CF: Jacoby Ellsbury (2011 with Boston): .321/.376/.552, 32 homers, 105 RBis, 119 runs, 39 steals, Gold Glove.

RF: Ichiro Suzuki (2004 with Seattle): .372/.414/.455 with 262 hits, 101 runs, 36 steals, Gold Glove.

DH: Carlos Beltran 2006 with Mets): : ..275/.388/.594, 41 homers, 116 RBIs, 127 runs 18 steals, Gold Glove.

In case you’re wondering, that averages out to the year 2005. This team would have peaked in 2005, even if Ellsbury was playing for Lowell of the New York Penn League at the time.

And, don’t forget, this team still has Vernon Wells (best year probably 2003 — .317 with league leading 49 doubles, 215 hits and 373 total bases) and Brett Gardner (best year a more recent 2010 — .383 OBP, 97 runs).

Oh, if only the Yankees had a Hot Tub Time Machine — or the phone booth from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure — they could put together one of the greatest teams in baseball history. Heck, let’s say it, if they could have all nine of those players, in their prime, that would be the greatest team ever. You have (by performance) three SURE Hall of Famers (A-Rod, Jeter, Ichiro), a possible Hall of Famer (Beltran) and four All-Star superstars.

Instead, Tex is old and played just 15 games last year, Jeter is old and played in 17 games, A-Rod is old and with a pending suspension that would last more than a year, Ichiro is old and has not even managed a .300 average since 2010, Roberts is old and is hitting .231/.289/.344 the last three seasons. Soriano and Beltran are old too, though they still had something left last year. Even McCann and Ellsbury, who are like One Direction compared to this gang of Rolling Stones, will be 30 on Opening Day.

Michael Schur and I argue about the Yankees all the time. I believe this team is about to become an all-time fiasco … something that has been building for a few years now with these gigantic and back-loaded contracts that, sooner or later, come due. I look at this creaky team — and the fact the Yankees had to pay a huge luxury tax just to put it together — and see doom.

He does not. He believes that there is some sort of evil empire nectar that they give players when they arrive so that as bad as the Yankees may LOOK to outsiders, they will always find a way to win. Always. Ichiro will suddenly hit .350 again. Roberts will become a .300 hitter, Tex will win the Triple Crown. Whatever miracles have to happen, Michael believes, will happen. He has his points. Even last year, when just about every single thing that could go wrong for the Yankees did, the Yankees still won 85 games and were mild postseason contenders into September.

I guess we’ll find out. I don’t know, to me this team looks like one of those Steinbrenner specials when the aging corpses of Jesse Barfield and Claudell Washington and Jose Cruz and Steve Kemp and Mike Easler and Steve Sax and Andy Hawkins and Scott Sanderson and Pascual Perez were clanging around. But, hey, you know, some of those teams did win a bit. And when you put together a team of players who were, at least at one time, great players …

… you can’t tell me the Yankees aren’t looking into buying one of those hot tubs on Ebay.

  1. djpostl - Dec 18, 2013 at 1:22 PM

    See you on September 1st when, once again, they are in playoff contention.

    • number42is1 - Dec 18, 2013 at 1:27 PM

      100 loss season probably.

      • sportsfan18 - Dec 19, 2013 at 10:41 AM

        The Yanks will most likely be a .500 team.

        I’m looking for them to be about 81 & 81 this coming season.

  2. Anthony M. - Dec 18, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    If the Yankees acquire Tanaka and get decent production from Pineda & Banuelos at any point this season…then suddenly the Yankees have a whole new look and feel to them, right? They’d have four starters (Nova/Pineda/Banuelos/Tanaka) under 30 years old in their rotation. Is that likely to happen? No, not likely to happen. But can it happen? Sure. Things in sports change. It’s so silly to call anything a slam dunk.

    • Professor Longnose - Dec 18, 2013 at 1:37 PM

      You have to replace Banuelos with Phelps, since they’ve moved Banuelos to the pen, probably permanently.

      • Kevin S. - Dec 18, 2013 at 1:43 PM

        No, they’ve moved Betances to the pen. Banuelos is still rehabbing.

      • Anthony M. - Dec 18, 2013 at 1:47 PM

        They moved Betances permanently to the bullpen

    • nolanwiffle - Dec 18, 2013 at 1:44 PM

      “Things in sports change. It’s so silly to call anything a slam dunk.”

      Perhaps……unless, of course, we’re talking about when a basketball player jumps in the air and manually powers the ball downward through the basket with one or both hands.

  3. spudchukar - Dec 18, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    I have no idea whether the Yanks will be in contention come September, but I will continue to emphasize this one fact. Nunez, Ryan, Cervelli, Wells/Ichiro, (???) 3B, and an untested bull pen, are going to see a lot more playing time than most teams’ bench players.

  4. cackalackyank - Dec 18, 2013 at 1:35 PM


    • El Bravo - Dec 18, 2013 at 1:39 PM


      • historiophiliac - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:37 PM

        I can’t wait for the new season to come out. RYONY, y’all!

  5. proudlycanadian - Dec 18, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    What a tremendous Old Timers team they have in the making.

  6. number42is1 - Dec 18, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    Lets lay this out

    Outfiled: Ichiro, Wells, Beltran, Elssbury, Gardner, Soriano
    Infield: Tex (probably injured), Roberts/Johnson (probably injured), Jeter (Probably injured), Arod (probaly suspended for at least 50 games), McCann (can’t play EVERY game),
    SP: CC (who knows what he’ll look like), Nova (A crapshoot if there ever was one), Kuroda (39 and while he was excellent the first half he was equally awful the second half), Pineda (who the hell knows)
    Bullpen: (this is my favorite part) – Robertson

    how is this not a 100 loss team?

    • Jeremy T - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:13 PM

      It’s not a great team, but 100 losses is… a lot of losses. The outfield is a definite strength, the infield is likely to have a lot of injuries but it’s not a guarantee, the rotation has plenty of potential to go along with all of the question marks, and the bullpen is a toss-up, like most bullpens. In the absolute worst case they might bump up against 100 losses, but on the other end of the spectrum they could just as easily get 90 wins if a few things break the right way.

      • historiophiliac - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:39 PM

        Like if the Rays and BloSox randomly suck?

      • Jeremy T - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:46 PM

        Hey, I didn’t say it was likely, but neither is 100 losses.

      • historiophiliac - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:55 PM

        Well, the O’s look to be worse next year and if the Jays perform as last year…

    • ezthinking - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:14 PM

      100 loss teams are fairly rare. Miami and Houston last year and the White Sox knocked on the door. It takes work to be that bad – usually requiring a ton of inexperienced players. Cubs and Houston in 2012 and Just Houston in 2011.

      Your assumption is no health and everything goes wrong. Possible, not likely. Likewise 100 percent health and career years are foolish to predict. Another 85 win season is more likely than not.

      Wells and Ichiro are likely gone by opening day. CC finally had an October off. Nova and Kuroda likely can pitch like #3-4 pitchers. If Pineda or Phelps add something the rotation is bottom third. Add in Tanaka and it looks easy mid-pack.

      The lineup will put up mid-pack runs quite easily. That leads to a .500-ish record.

      I still wouldn’t be surprised to see some in-season moves charting a new direction. Survival of this season is what matters.

      ARod will be done after this season one way or the other. Eating his salary is not much different than these teams still paying old players for 10+ years. Bobby Bonilla is still getting paid by the Mets, Helton by the Rockies, etc…

      Jeter – done. Soriano – done, Wells – done, Ichiro – done. Roberts – done. Johnson – done. Kuroda – done. 2015 will have a whole new look. But expect the Yankees to hang in the middle all season.

      • number42is1 - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:21 PM

        Ok ok! maybe i was being a little flippant.. i didn’t mean ONE HUNDRED literally.. i meant this is a team that will certainly finish under 500 with this lineup. the simple fact that we quite literally DO NOT have a bullpen amazes the hell out of me. they are so focused on the outfield that they forgot all about the pen. as much as i hated Logan he should have been kept if for no other reason than to eat up the 6th 7th inning which will likely happen often. Personally i think that CC will be back to his old self this year but that is not close to enough to help this team get to a decent record. the probability of an injury laden infield is higher than you think. the only thing this lineup has going for them is speed, which is nice, but it’s useless if no one can get on base.

      • robotmonkeycat - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:38 PM

        Just looking at the names and ignoring ages and recent stats(i.e. reality), the line-up looks great.

      • Jeremy T - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:50 PM

        It feels like the Yankees have done a pretty good job putting together a bullpen out of scraps the last few years. Not that it looks great right now, but the bullpen is generally the easiest place to throw cheap pieces together and get something useful out of them.

      • bigharold - Dec 18, 2013 at 4:22 PM

        “.. i meant this is a team that will certainly finish under 500 with this lineup.”

        The line up you suggested, assuming that all the so called injured aren’t injured at once or most of the season, is much better than last season. specially the infield.

        Counting on the Yankees collapsing due to age. Now that’s a novel idea, .. I don’t think anyone has ever suggested that before.

  7. jerseyjoehaven - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    The Yankees have very little money left to spend even with Aroid coming off. This is why they are picking up table scraps as players. Also the reason Carlos contract has not been finished. Cashman is putting the wrong team together by not checking all thats out there. Why pick up Ellibury, just to take him away from Boston. Should have went after Reds OF Choo for less money. Could have made a run at Granderson instead of Beltran same money younger player with more power and not a drain on the dh spot. In other words Cashman just doles out the money and has no end game, its been like this every year. The best the Yankees can do is scrap top management for not doing the right job. The job that was needed from the start was to build the minor league system into a power house. The other need is to stop babying the players in the minors and let them grow without limiting potential. All the rules killed how many pitchers. Years ago players just played.

  8. nymets4ever - Dec 18, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    Oh, is it already time for the stat-worshipping pencil-necks to write their annual Yankees eulogy? lol

    • sportsfan18 - Dec 19, 2013 at 10:51 AM

      No, I think it has to do more with the fact that the Yanks only won 85 games last yr.

      That is the LEAST amount of wins they’ve had in the past 17 years.

      And it’s actually longer than that as the strike in 1994/95 is all that prevented them from winning more games than that based on their winning percentage those yrs.

      So one really needs to go back to 1992 for a full season where the Yanks lost MORE games than last season, more than 20 years ago.

      The Yanks have done a great job of staving off their decline. The handwriting has been on the wall with their high dollar, long term contracts.

      It was a matter of time until age related decline and/or injury caught up to them.

      It caught up to them last season and they are still in play for the coming season and for the next yr or so as well at a minimum.

  9. bobwsc - Dec 18, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    at least Girardi has his flower in the dugout

    • pastabelly - Dec 18, 2013 at 4:37 PM

      :) Flower in our clubhouse is what he said.

      A lot of sizzle this offseason, but very little steak (pitching). Maybe they’re not done.

  10. aceshigh11 - Dec 18, 2013 at 5:40 PM

    Maybe they can coax Tim Wakefield and Jamie Moyer out of retirement, too.

  11. sandwiches4ever - Dec 18, 2013 at 6:10 PM

    Andy Hawkins, that’s a throwback right there.

  12. 1historian - Dec 19, 2013 at 7:31 AM


  13. extavernmouse - Dec 19, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    The only thing I disagree about in this article is the idea that ARod is a SURE Hall of Famer. He only gets in if McGwire, Clemens, Sosa and Bonds do. Maybe some Veterans’ Committee in about 2053…

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