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.
Oct 1, 2014, 8:29 AM EDT
Bumgarner vs. Volquez is, on paper anyway, something of a mismatch. But as we saw in last night’s game, predicting these things is a fool’s errand.
Oct 1, 2014, 7:36 AM EDT
And Pedro Martinez absolutely roasts Yost for that.
Oct 1, 2014, 2:02 AM EDT
Yost’s controversial call fails to doom Royals after all.
Oct 1, 2014, 1:44 AM EDT
In-game losses left the A’s undermanned in defeat.
Oct 1, 2014, 1:29 AM EDT
In case you missed it, here is the replay of Salvador Perez’s walkoff hit from Tuesday night’s AL Wild Card Game …
Oct 1, 2014, 1:25 AM EDT
You get a bunt and you get a bunt and you get a bunt!
Oct 1, 2014, 1:10 AM EDT
Salvador Perez was held hitless in his first five at-bats of Tuesday’s American League Wild Card Game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, but he smacked a walkoff RBI single down the left-field line in the 12th inning to give the Royals a 9-8 victory over the A’s.
Oct 1, 2014, 12:14 AM EDT
A’s center fielder Coco Crisp was removed from Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game before the bottom of the 11th inning with an apparent hamstring injury.
Sep 30, 2014, 11:49 PM EDT
We’ve got a brand new ballgame in Kansas City.
Sep 30, 2014, 10:53 PM EDT
Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu will test his injured shoulder in a simulated game Wednesday. He’s hoping to start Game 3 of the NLDS in St. Louis.
Sep 30, 2014, 10:18 PM EDT
Oakland opened the floodgates on the Royals in the sixth inning.
Sep 30, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT
Watch the host Royals take the lead in Tuesday’s American League Wild Card Game against the visiting A’s on this RBI bloop single from Eric Hosmer in the bottom of the third inning …
Sep 30, 2014, 9:06 PM EDT
Derek Norris came off the bench to replace him.
Sep 30, 2014, 8:59 PM EDT
Angels starter Matt Shoemaker hasn’t pitched in a game since September 15 due to a left oblique strain, but he is making steady progress behind the scenes and expects to be available for the ALDS.
Sep 30, 2014, 8:04 PM EDT
Braves hitting coach Greg Walker officially stepped down on Tuesday evening, as announced on the club’s Twitter feed.
Sep 30, 2014, 7:31 PM EDT
Ishikawa is 31 years old and has started a grand total of three career games in the outfield.
Sep 30, 2014, 7:08 PM EDT
Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz underwent surgery Tuesday to correct a right meniscus injury that bothered him off and on throughout the 2014 season. He should have a fairly normal winter.
Sep 30, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT
Kershaw and Greinke four times in five games?
Sep 30, 2014, 6:20 PM EDT
Javier Baez hit just .169 with 95 strikeouts in 52 games as a 21-year-old rookie.
Sep 30, 2014, 6:13 PM EDT
Josh Hamilton has played in just one game since September 4 due to shoulder, chest, and rib cage injuries, but the 33-year-old outfielder took batting practice, threw some long toss, and ran the bases on Tuesday afternoon and has declared himself ready for the ALDS, which begins on Thursday.
- Playoff Reset: The National League Wild Card Game 0
- Video: Salvador Perez walks off Royals in Wild Card Game 1
- Small ball prevails … in a 9-8 game 16
- Royals complete thrilling comeback to defeat A’s in the American League Wild Card Game 48
- Josh Hamilton declares himself ready for the ALDS 3
- Wild Card Game: A’s vs. Royals lineups 14
- Pouliot’s 2014 National League awards picks 22
- HBT Daily: A’s vs. Royals. Jon Lester vs. Big Game James. WHO YA GOT?! 12
- Hunter Pence dropped a bunch of F-bombs in his postgame speech. Good. (116)
- Barry Bonds discovered to be “glassing” — it’s just as bad as you think (90)
- Derek Jeter’s final game in Yankee Stadium could be cancelled because of rain (85)
- And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights (85)
- Previewing the 2014 Playoffs (80)