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by user Timothy Moreland
There is a common theme in this rotation; outside of Wang, they are all injury risks. First, Randy Johnson had major knee problems and has back issues but when healthy he is still one of the most dominant pitchers in the league. It is hard to predict what he will do because Johnson is 42 years old and showed minor decline across the board from 2004. His K rate dropped a notch, his BB rate increased a tad, he became a little more hittable, and his HR rate doubled. On the one hand, this may be a sign of age or it could just be a bad year that will be followed by a rebound. Either way, he will find a way to pitch over 200 innings and be a worthy ace. Mike Mussina at only 37 worrys me more than the Big Unit. He went on the DL in 2004 and would have last year but his injury occurred too late in the year. The problem with Mussina is his control is not what it used to be and his BA on balls in play has been very high for the last two years (.317 and .328). This means either he has become more hittable, his defense has been worse, or just plain old bad luck. For his sake, I hope it is bad luck. Don't expect a sub-4.00 ERA anytime soon. Last year, Shawn Chacon looked impressive after being traded to NY. Unfortunately, I think his 2.85 ERA in New York was driven by good luck(.240 BA on balls in play). His K:BB of 4:3 does not generally produce that kind of results. His career ERA is 4.90 so I expect the move out of Coors will be enough to bring his ERA next year down to the mid-4.00s. Also, watch for fatigue or injury to set in if he approaches 180-200 innings next year. Here's Mr. Healthy himself, Chien-Ming Wang. On the plus side, he handles the HR ball very well(0.7/9IP), due to being an extreme groundball pitcher (66% GB). On the negative side, he does not dominate hitters in any way (47K/32BB in 116.3 IP). Last years ERA was 4.02 and I would expect it to increase based on his lack of dominance and less than impressive minor league numbers. Rounding out the rotation is Carl Pavano who spent time on the DL last year and is less than impressive in stuff. His K rate has never been strong, although it is countered by a decent BB rate. Hopefully, his HR problems were do to injury and his BABIP of .333 will regress to its normal rate. His chances of being a sub-4.00 pitcher are better than any outside of Johnson. The bullpen looks strong in Mariano Rivera, Kyle Farnsworth, Octavio Dotel, and to a lesser degree Mike Myers.
<stats> Player=Randy Johnson Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>
SP Mike Mussina
<stats> Player=Mike Mussina Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>
SP Shawn Chacon
<stats> Player=Shawn Chacon Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Chien-Ming Wang Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>
SP Carl Pavano
<stats> Player=Carl Pavano Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>
Assuming Johnny Damon's current injury isn't serious, the Yankees start off the best lineup in the AL with one of the best leadoff hitters. A .300/.360/.450 line can be expected along with his average fielding and below-average arm. Then, the lineup transitions to a superstar shortstop in Derek Jeter, who has surprisingly become one of the better defensive shortstops in the league. He may actually be at his most valuable point in his career now that he is no longer a dreadful fielder. I wonder if having ARod come over has allowed him to focus on moving toward second base since Rodriguez is a good fielder himself. Alex Rodriguez is the most valuable player in the majors, Pujols included. Not only is he a ridiculous hitter(1.031 OPS) at a weaker offensive position than Pujols, but he contributes from the field as well. Gary Sheffield has been hampered by nagging injuries and is 37 years old, but manages to produce like a superstar year in and year out. I can guarantee he passes 30 HRs and flirts with a .400 OBP. Last year, Jason Giambi was great but there is plenty of reason to worry. First, he is an admitted to past steroid use, and second, he struggled mightily in 2004 and the beginning of 2005. However, when all was said and done in 2005, he managed a .440 OBP! and slugged .535. You would have to be extremely picky to find a fault in those numbers. With or without steroids, it appears as if Giambi remains one of the most potent bats in the AL. Hideki Matsui's power has switched from doubles to HRs each year. In 2003, he had 42 2Bs and 16 HRs; in 2004, the doubles went down to 34 and turned into 31 HRs; in 2005, the doubles jumped up to 45 and the HRs fell to 23. 2006 is an even year so I guess Godzilla will hit HRs. Seriously though, I bet he hits less than 30 HRs but still manages to be an All-Star based on his strong OBP and a bundle of doubles. Jorge Posada mans the #7 spot admirably; although, he is an aging, declining catcher. No longer a star at the plate or behind it, Posada, at 34 years old, still provides more production than most catchers or #7 hitters. Next in the order, Bernie Williams exists as the only hole in the Yankees lineup. Last year was the collapse of a legend and don't expect him to recover. Watching Bernie play in the field last year was painful, as he no longer has any range at all. Finishing the lineup, Robinson Cano, at 23 years old, represents the only young player in the order. There's a good chance he will improve on last year's solid, but not spectular, line for a 2B (.297/.320/.458). Cano's AAA numbers last year before he came up were outstanding (.333/.368/.574) and create much promise for the future. The bench lacks any real talent but the starters are unmatched by any team.
Projected Batting Order
CF Johnny Damon
<stats> Player=Johnny Damon Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
SS Derek Jeter
<stats> Player=Derek Jeter Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Alex Rodriguez Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Gary Sheffield Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
1B Jason Giambi
<stats> Player=Jason Giambi Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Hideki Matsui Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Jorge Posada Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Bernie Williams Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Robinson Cano Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
Projection: 94-68 2nd in the AL East...Outside of Randy Johnson, there are not any starters who I can say will definitely get the job done. However, there offense remains in a league of its own. Imagine if they could just patch there one hole in Bernie Williams.
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Thu 03/16/06, 8:45 pm EST