Jan 22, 2014, 12:24 PM EDT
The offseason distorts things. The wintertime focus on individual player signings and the underlying optimism everyone seems to have about the prospects of their local nine often makes us forget that, in baseball, one player cannot make the difference between winning and losing. Heck, sometimes even three players don’t. Just ask Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, C.J. Wilson and thousands of disappointed Angels fans these past couple of seasons.
Which isn’t to say that Masahiro Tanaka was a bad signing for the Yankees. Anything but. The Yankees had serious issues in their rotation and Tanaka was, by far, the best pitcher available on the open market. Tanaka’s presence will dramatically improve the Bombers’ rotation even if his numbers pale compared to the video game stats he posted in Japan this past season.
But before Yankees fans clear their October calendars in favor of watching a deep playoff run, they need to remember that, despite the nearly half a billion dollars the Steinbrenners have devoted to free agents this offseason, their local nine still has a lot of holes.
Mariano Rivera is gone and, though David Robertson is one of the best relief pitchers in the game, one does not simply replace the greatest of all time. Maybe more to the point, with Robertson moving in to the closer’s role, the rest of the bullpen is thrust into flux. Lefty Matt Thornton was a nice pickup, but New York could really use another solid reliever.
The infield could be a much bigger problem. Heck, if things break bad it could be a hot mess. Mark Teixeira‘s wrist, which kept him out of the entire 2013 season, is already giving him some problems, with MLB.com reporting earlier this week that he’s likely to have a late start to spring training as a result. Derek Jeter is back, but he is no safe bet to be healthy and/or effective at his advanced age. His fill-in — Brendan Ryan — is a slick fielder but worthless at the plate. And he may be covering second base anyway if Brian Roberts, imported from Baltimore, is unable to shake the durability issues he’s had for the past several years. Finally, while everyone is happy that A-Rod is gone, third base is a question mark. Kelly Johnson hasn’t played much third in his career., and he may need to cover first base if Teixeira is gimpy.
That sound you hear is Stephen Drew‘s agent clearing his schedule to take meetings with Brian Cashman. Or, if Cashman is smart, it should be.
Even before the Tanaka signing, the Yankees addition of Brain McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran made them better. But there’s no escaping the fact that this was an 85-win team last year which arguably overachieved to get even that far (their Pythagorean expectation was 79 wins). To compete with the defending world champ Red Sox and the always pesky Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees needed to improve significantly.
There is no question that the Tanaka signing is a significant upgrade to the rotation. But to the extent anyone says it “buys the Yankees a championship” or anything close to it, they’re ignoring the fact that an awful lot has to go right for this team, as currently constructed, to even be assured of the playoffs. They’re a reliever, an infielder (or two) and a couple of bounceback years from some aging veterans away from printing playoff tickets.
Sometimes all of those things break just right. They’re not the sort of things people wager a lot of money on, however.
May 21, 2015, 11:27 PM EDT
The Cubs are reportedly one of several teams who have looked into signing Soriano.
May 21, 2015, 11:03 PM EDT
Coco Crisp left Tuesday’s game with tightness in his neck and it sounds like he’s going to need to miss some time.
May 21, 2015, 10:15 PM EDT
The Phillies have reportedly talked to the Angels about a deal involving Revere.
May 21, 2015, 9:33 PM EDT
Brewers reliever Will Smith was ejected from Thursday’s game against the Braves in the bottom of the seventh inning after he was found to have a foreign substance on his non-throwing arm.
May 21, 2015, 9:03 PM EDT
Masahiro Tanaka took his first step toward rejoining the Yankees rotation tonight by tossing three scoreless innings in a minor league rehab start with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
May 21, 2015, 8:01 PM EDT
Howard homered in back-to-back games at Coors Field and is now up to nine home runs on the season.
May 21, 2015, 7:12 PM EDT
Yan Gomes has been sidelined since April 11 due to an MCL sprain in his right knee.
May 21, 2015, 6:28 PM EDT
Back in 2013 the Dodgers signed Arruebarrena to a five-year, $25 million deal.
May 21, 2015, 6:18 PM EDT
Victorino is dealing with general soreness which is “centralized somewhat” in his left calf.
May 21, 2015, 5:03 PM EDT
Ace vs. Ace. Advantage: Bumgarner.
May 21, 2015, 3:46 PM EDT
He struck out 11 dudes in eight shutout innings.
May 21, 2015, 2:38 PM EDT
Can you blame them?
May 21, 2015, 2:14 PM EDT
May 21, 2015, 1:40 PM EDT
Morneau’s career was previously derailed by concussions when he was with the Twins.
May 21, 2015, 1:28 PM EDT
Pedro Alvarez hit a ball out of PNC Park the other day. It landed in a boat. Then some guy came along and took it. Whose ball is it and was the law broken?
May 21, 2015, 12:07 PM EDT
Washington coached in Oakland from 1996-2006.
May 21, 2015, 11:22 AM EDT
Best part: its modern, non-retro design.
May 21, 2015, 10:47 AM EDT
Shoulder problems have derailed Jaime Garcia in three straight seasons.
May 21, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
After three straight rough seasons in which he went 32-38 with a 4.76 ERA, two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum is shutting lineups down again.
May 21, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT
One not-so-fun thing: it creates a LOT of extra work for the clubhouse attendants.
- Who really owns a home run ball? 56
- The story behind the Nationals squirting chocolate syrup on each other after big wins 43
- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights 125
- Bryce Harper on Marvin Hudson ejection: “I don’t think 40,000 people came to watch him ump” 127
- Bryce Harper ejected for second time in a week 122
- Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu to have season-ending shoulder surgery 8
- Remembering David Letterman’s best sports moments 11
- Ryan Zimmerman is Mr. Walk-Off (and the numbers to prove it) 11
- Bryce Harper on Marvin Hudson ejection: “I don’t think 40,000 people came to watch him ump” (128)
- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights (125)
- Bryce Harper ejected for second time in a week (122)
- GM Dan Jennings to be named the Marlins new manager. And it’s a terrible idea. (111)
- And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights (101)