Blog Entry

Yankees 2008 Compared to Yankees 2007

Posted on: March 18, 2008 10:36 am
In this season opening breakdown, we'll review where the Yankees stood at this time last year, compared to where they are now.

Catcher: 2007 Jorge Posada; 2008 Same
Outlook: Worse

Posada's another year older, and he had a career year last year at the plate.  He was also much worse than his career numbers at throwing runners out.  Will the upward trend remain up and the downward trend reverse?  I'd say both are long shots.  As a result, I expect the Yankees to be worse at catcher in 2008 than in 2007, both offensively and defensively. 

Reserves: Jose Molina
Unfortunately, with Francisco Cervelli out for 10 weeks with a broken wrist, the Yankees are in no better shape to absorb a catcher injury than they were last year.  If Posada misses extended time, the Yankees will need to turn to Molina, followed by a replacement level catcher.  If Cervelli were healthy, he'd be better than that, but he's not going to be an option at all this season.

First Base: 2007 Josh Phelps/Doug Mientkeiwicz, 2008 Giambi/Duncan/Ensberg/Betemit
Outlook: Better

Say what you will regarding Giambi's improvements this spring, he really can't be worse than he was last year (right?).  He'll be playing for a contract.  On top of that, Ensberg's a quality player, even if he's not played 1st.  Duncan's developed a cult following, and has been dominant in spring training.  Out of these four players, it's my belief you're going to have a strong showing out of first this year, one of the better (albeit most expensive) outputs in the AL.

Second Base:  2007 Robinson Cano, 2008 Same
Outlook: Better

Cano's only 23, and he should still be on the upswing in terms of growth and potential.  He's a rising star, considered by most as the best second baseman in the AL.  He's one of the few Yankees regulars that is still on the upside of his career.

Shortstop: 2007 Derek Jeter, 2008 Same
Outlook: Same

Jeter didn't have a great 2007, so I don't see him necessarily declining in 2008.  That said, he's below average defensively, but well above average offensively.  He should produce at about the same level as last year.

Third Base: 2007 Alex Rodriguez, 2008 Same
Outlook: Worse

What, you expect another 56 home run, MVP season?  Maybe it will happen, but it's certainly too much to expect.  There's lots of room on the downside and not much on the up, so odds are he'll be worse than last season.  He should still be one of the top 2 (with Miguel Cabrera) offensive third basemen in the AL.

Left Field: 2007 Hideki Matsui, 2008 Johnny Damon
Outlook: Slightly Better
Reserves: Matsui, Shelley Duncan
Matsui wasn't good last year, and he got hurt.  Damon probably won't be much better, but at least the Yankees now have Matsui and Duncan to rest him, potentially.  Damon's defense is better than Matsui's, and his arm isn't such a liability in left.  He should be one of the better left fielders, defensively, when healthy.  It's hard to tell what's going to happen this year, but I'm guessing it will be slightly better than last.

Center Field: 2007 Johnny Damon, 2008 Melky Cabrera
Outlook: Slightly Better

Cabrera's on the upside of his career.  This is a make or break year for him, and he knows it.  Austin Jackson and Brett Gardner are nipping at his heels, and so if he doesn't produce early on, he'll be replaced.  Gardner's an outfielder in the Juan Pierre mold (no power, lots of speed, good defense), while Jackson fits more in line with a poor man's Ken Griffey, Jr, plenty of power, solid defense, good speed.   Gardner's ready now, Jackson's chance won't come for another year unless the Yankees are desperate.  Either way, Cabrera can feel the pressure, and I think he'll respond well to it.

Right Field: 2007 Bobby Abreu, 2008 Same
Outlook: Worse

This is a tough one, as Abreu could go either way.  He wasn't great in 2007, and this is a contract year.  He's in better shape now, but he's a year older.  I'm guessing that age is going to be a bigger factor than motivation, and he'll regress a bit, but still be solid.

Designated Hitter: 2007 Jason Giambi, 2008 Hideki Matsui
Outlook: Slightly Better

Giambi was awful in the DH slot, and the production here's even worse if you exclude some players like Alex Rodriguez who made a couple starts. As a whole, the position only produced a .334 OBP and .414 SLG.  That's not going to cut it.  It should be better this year. 

Starting Pitching:

2007 Chien-Ming Wang, 2008 Same
Outlook: Same

Wang has been solid throughout his career, and the same should be expected this year.  There's no reason to expect more or less than last year's stats, which made him one of the top 15 starters in the AL.

2. 2007 Andy Pettitte, 2008 Same
Outlook: Same

Pettitte was solid last year, not exceptional, but solid.  He's had a rough offseason.  I think he'll produce at about the same level as last year, which would be a solid innings eater, and the only lefty in the starting rotation.

3. 2007 Mike Mussina, 2008 Mike Mussina + Joba Chamberlain
Outlook: Better

Okay, so Mussina really isn't the 3rd starter this year, but this made it easier to lay out the season.  Mussina will either be better this year, or will be replaced by Joba by July.  Either way, the Yankees should expect improved production from this spot.

4. 2007 Carl Pavano + Roger Clemens, 2008 Phil Hughes
Outlook: Much better

Even if you don't believe in Phil Franchise, you've got to believe he'll be better than Carl Pavano.  I mean, if he starts two or three games he's better...  Clemens was pretty awful in 2007, nowhere near worth what he was paid.  Hughes was the #1 pitching prospect last year, and despite a few leg injuries, he would still deserve that status if he was rookie eligible.  Regardless, he should be a stud in the long term, if not the short term.  He should be above average, though, in 2008.  That alone will be far better than what the Yankees got from their 4th starters a year ago.

5. 2007 Kei Igawa + Darrell Rasner + Chase Wright + a staff of thousands, 2008 Ian Kennedy
Outlook: Much better

The Yankees had a revolving door in the 5th spot last year.  Igawa, Rasner, Wright were all historically bad.  The only decent pitchers that filled this spot at some point over the season were Hughes and Kennedy, both who are in the rotation this year.  Kennedy should also be above average in 2007, which again will be a huge improvement over last year.

Overall Starting Pitching Outlook:  The Yankees have more depth and more quality in the rotation than last year.  They are counting on some youth in the form of Hughes and Kennedy (and eventually Chamberlain), but there's a ton of talent here, and the starters should put out quality starts more often than not--a huge improvement, and will make things much easier on the bullpen.


Closer: 2007/2008 Mariano Rivera
Outlook: Slightly Worse

Mariano's aging, and so you should expect some small decline, but he should still be one of the best closers in the game.

Setup Man: 2007 Kyle Farnsworth, 2008 Joba Chamberlain
Outlook: Much Better

Joba became a legend last fall.  He'll continue to grow it in the bullpen during the spring, until he eventually moves into the rotation.  At that point, it's hard to say what this spot will look like, so I'm just going with the assumption that he'll stay here for now.  The Yankees have Mark Melancon and Humberto Sanchez who both could be with the ML bullpen by the time Joba's ready to move into the rotation, and both would be an improvement over Farnsworth.

Other Relievers: 2007 Scott Proctor, Luis Vizcaino, Mike Myers, Brian Bruney, Ron Villone, Sean Henn, 2008 Kyle Farnsworth, LaTroy Hawkins, ???, ???, ???
Outlook: Unknown

The three other relievers out of the pen, besides Hawkins and Farnsworth, are still up in the air.  The bullpen wasn't too bad last season, with the exception of Henn and Farnsworth (and some of the other guys I didn't mention, like Edwar Ramirez, Jeff Karstens, etc).  It might be better this year, it might be worse.  There's definitely more talent here, but will that talent produce?  It's hard to say.  Regardless, I don't think it's going to be as needed this year as last.

Overall Reserves: Better

The farm system is ready to produce both young arms and some young position players to fill in if players get injured.  Ensberg's better than anyone they had on the bench last year, and if Jason Lane accepts a spot in the minors, he and Gardner form a really strong backup set of outfielders.  Catcher's still weak, but no weaker than last year--the help there won't be ready for a couple seasons.

Overall Outlook:  Better
The Yankees hitting will be similar, possibly slightly worse.  The defense will be about the same, possibly slightly worse.  The bullpen will probably be a bit better.  The starting pitching is where this team excels.  It was a huge area of weakness last year, and it should be a strength this year.  Their rotation should be one of the best in the majors in 2008, due to its depth. 

Playoff Outlook: Same
Despite the depth of their rotation, it's still not necessarily as strong at the top as the other competitors.  The Angels (Lackey, Escobar--if both are healthy at that point), the Mariners (Bedard, Hernandez), the Indians (Sabathia, Carmona), and the Red Sox (Beckett, and ... perhaps he can pitch with both arms?) could all boast potentially stronger aces and #2 pitchers than the Yankees.  Until Hughes, Kennedy, and Chamberlain mature, that will most likely be the case.  Wang is really a very good #3, and Pettitte's really a #2.  The Yankees don't have that ace yet, but Hughes and Chamberlain have the stuff to be an ace, and I believe Kennedy has the command, control, and makeup to be an ace.  Will that happen in 2008?  That's probably a stretch.  In other words, there's still no guarantee the Yankees make it out of the first round of the playoffs.  I do believe they make it to the playoffs though.

Projected AL Playoff Teams:
Yankees: AL East Winners
Red Sox: Wild Card
Tigers: AL Central Winners (tough call over the Indians, but I don't think either will be out the Red Sox for the Wild Card)
Mariners: AL West Winners
Category: MLB
Tags: Yankees

Since: Feb 9, 2008
Posted on: April 12, 2008 7:09 am

Yankees 2008 Compared to Yankees 2007

I like your take for the year. Nice post...keep 'em comin'...

Since: Mar 24, 2008
Posted on: March 24, 2008 2:26 pm

Yankees 2008 Compared to Yankees 2007

I'd have to disagree about the Yankees having one of the best rotations in the majors in 2008.  Realistically I'd project them to have the third best rotation in the AL East, and be borderline among the Top 10 in the majors.

Mussina and Pettite are getting really up there at this point .  Pettite will probably be nearly as good this year as last, which if you look back at his 2007 numbers actually wasn't spectacular (low K/BB, high WHIP, mediocre ERA, 3rd most hits given up in the AL, .286 BAA) and Mussina... well if Mussina isn't better then he's going to be a below average pitcher in 2008.  That's 2 slots in the rotation that combined have to be at best considered "average".

Joba, Hughes and Kennedy have to be on limited innings and pitchcounts all year or risk damaging their long-term prospects.

The Yankees will have one of the best rotations in the league soon, but it won't be this year.  2009, 2010 if Kennedy, Chamberlain and Hughes are able to pitch full seasons the Yankees have the potential to be scary-good.  This year, however, they're going to need to scramble for starts from a fill-ins.  Actually - isn't Pettitte already injured?

Barring a miracle I'd say the Yankees are destined to miss the playoffs this year.

AL East: Red Sox
AL Central: Indians
AL West: Angels
AL WC: Tigers


Since: Feb 12, 2008
Posted on: March 18, 2008 3:32 pm

Yankees 2008 Compared to Yankees 2007

Nice Job on this post. 

Though I agree with many of your points, I disagree with the statement that Derek Jeter is a below average fielder.  Granted, he has limited range but he is certainly not below average.  He is a 3 time Gold Glove Shortstop with a career fielding percentage of .975, hardly below average.

Even being a Yankees fan, I think that the Red Sox take the division and the Yankees will need to fight it out with the Indians for the wild card this year.

Since: Sep 30, 2007
Posted on: March 18, 2008 1:44 pm

Yankees 2008 Compared to Yankees 2007

Baseball "guru" Peter Gammons is also a Red Sox die hard.  Pardon me if I don't take his opinion on the Yankees as unbiased (neither is mine, btw).

Since: Mar 17, 2008
Posted on: March 18, 2008 1:39 pm

Yankees 2008 Compared to Yankees 2007

2008 Yankees have problems in their starting rotation. Petite and Mussina are yes a year older and a year worse. Did you see Mussina in the playoffs last year? Horrible is an understatement. Yes, you can always rely on the consistencies of Jeter and A-Rod but pitching is the only way they can defeat the BOSOX . Petite a #2 are you kidding me.... at this stage in his career he's better suited a #3 and Mussina well in the bullpen. The Yankees will not win their division!! I've got the Indians beating them out for the Wild Card. As long as A-Rod is playing third in which he is dreadful their infield is average at best. You made some good points but even baseball GURU Peter Gammons admitted the Yankees will struggle this year.

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