Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pinto Likes the Yankees

On his Baseball Musings website, David Pinto has his AL East preview up and offers this take on the Yankees:

The Yankees return Posada, Matsui and Cano with value wins under 1.0. Brett Gardner is unlikely to improve much on Melky Cabrera’s 0.1 WAR. Yet the Yankees look like they are going to blow the division out of the water.

Their position players rank third in the AL East, but the 26.6 level is likely an underestimate of their offensive and defensive core. Full seasons from Posada and Matsui boost their 0.8 value wins, and if Cano just reverts to his mean, the Yankees will add three wins there. Those three are likely to make up for any downside on the part of Jeter, Damon and Nady.

Be on the lookout for a Nancy Kerrigan like recovery for Alex Rodriguez. Back in 1994, skater Kerrigan was whacked in the knee by the boyfriend of her rival skater, Tonya Harding. Kerrigan was force to rehabilitate her knee to get ready for the Olympics, and the therapy made her stronger, leading to the best performance of her life. A-Rod is going through that kind of training right now, possibly increasing his strength beyond what a normal spring training would bring. I could imagine him coming back and posting six months worth of number in five. (Of course, he’ll complain about Jeter’s makeup and everyone will hate him again.)

The Yankees real strength comes on the mound. CC Sabathia takes over as the ace of the rotation with consecutive seasons of 7+ value wins. A.J. Burnett’s 5.7 WAR in 2008 was better than both Beckett and Lester. Wang produced the lowest WAR of these five starters in 2008, and he still managed a 2.0 in half a season. Joba Chamberlain still has upside. Their impressive 23.1 WAR may very well be a conservative estimate! Add to that Rivera’s 3.1 value wins, and the core of their pitching staff is over seven wins better than any other team in the AL East. Without any help from the bench, New York is looking at a season with their wins in the high 90s. That’s the floor, not the ceiling.

The Yankees are going to be tough to beat unless everything goes wrong for them.


That is quite the favorable analysis, unlike, say, Sports Illustrated, which likes the Mets to win it all.

What's more, this type of preview, however, illustrates just how high the expectations are for the Yankees. You can't sign Sabathia and Burnett and Teixeira and not have high expectations; but with high expectations also comes greater disappointment when they are not met.

It brings back my favorite line from Calvin and Hobbes: "I find my life a lot easier the lower I keep everyone's expectations"

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