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Yankees to make playoffs
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 6/3/2007 5:18:00 PM
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While everyone is pretty much counting out New York, it’s hard to imagine this team not making a strong run over the final four months of the season. Without a doubt, they’ve played poor baseball through eight weeks, and 13.5 games is a deep enough hole to probably discount any chance of overtaking Boston in the AL East. If that’s not bad enough, seven teams are currently ahead of them in the wild card race, so it’s easy to see why many foresee an October sans the Yankees.

However, the task may not be as difficult as it seems. A closer look at the teams ahead in the standings reveals a couple of frauds (Orioles, Mariners), a duo that’s getting ravaged by injuries (Blue Jays, Athletics) and two others that are frankly inferior in talent (Twins, White Sox). Which leaves us with the wild card leading Tigers, who are up 7.5 games as of now. It’s a solid team, but one with an imploding bullpen, injury-prone key players (Carlos Guillen/Gary Sheffield) and an aging vet playing like Babe Ruth (Magglio Ordonez).

But enough about the other teams, because when New York starts playing in accordance with their talent that suits up, it won’t matter. Entering the season, the Yankees looked like one of the three best teams in baseball, with the Red Sox and Mets also in the picture. Not enough has changed in my mind to drastically alter that viewpoint. In one-run games this year, the Yankees are 2-10, so expect that to start evening out soon. Of the top-five teams with the best on-base percentages this year, four of them have a top-five record in baseball. And then there are the Yankees, whose .353 OBP ranks third best, and yet their record doesn’t correlate like the others.

So it’s pitching that’s been the culprit. A 4.70 team ERA is ugly, but a starting rotation of Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, Chien-Ming Wang and some scrub (eventually Phil Hughes?) not only form a solid staff, but one of the better rotations in the AL. The bullpen has problems, but Mariano Rivera is still there for the ninth. Combine that with one of the most dangerous lineups MLB has seen in years, and this team still looks like one of the best in the league. I don’t like the Yankees, and in fact, I hope they finish in last place, but people should not be so quick to assume their demise.


Hughes' out til' August, Wang living a lie with his soft cheese and the Moose is having an off-year. Clemens is an injury risk, when he does actually play...good luck!
Posted by flutiefan at 6/3/2007 7:09:00 PM
The Hughes and Giambi injuries don’t help, no argument there. And while I agree Wang isn’t a great pitcher – especially not fantasywise since he doesn’t K anyone – he’ll induce enough groundballs to finish with an ERA right around 4.0, which is all that’s needed with that lineup. Mussina’s plummeting K rate is a legitimate concern, but I’m not too worried about Clemens’ leg issues, “fatigued groin” and all.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 6/3/2007 11:52:00 PM
I agree the Yanks will be in the race, at minimum, in September. And if the Sox get a key injury or two (Ortiz e.g.) then that may not just be the wild-card race, either.
Posted by MPStopa at 6/4/2007 6:20:00 AM
The 3-10 in one-run games won't "even out." The Yankees aren't "due" to win 10 of their next 13 1-run games. They're due to win 7 of those 13 games.

It's reasonable to assume that it will take at least 90 W's to win the wild card. The Yankees need to go 66-42 over their last 108 games (a .611 winning %). Their Pythagorean record (29-25, .537) is certainly better than their actual record, and indicates that some turnaround is in order. But it's not often that a .537 team becomes a .611 team.

I'm not ready to bury them yet, but I would say they have no more than a 10% of making the playoffs.

Posted by iceguy at 6/4/2007 11:20:00 AM
I should also point out that it's hyperbole to say they have "one of the most dangerous lineups MLB has seen in years." They're 4th in R's per game (5.35). That would be good enough for 4th last year as well. Their offense is hardly historic.

And there are reasons to think that this year's offense won't be as good as last year's. Johnny Damon has had an OPS over .805 for only the second time since 2000. Some regression to the norm was expected. Jeter's OPS (.900) was his best since '99. He was going to come back to his career number of .850. Abreu, Damon, Matsui, Giambi, Jeter, and Posada are all north of 32. So the injury problems of 2006 (Matsui and Sheffield both missed significant time) were likely to increase rather than decrease.

I doubt the Yankees will be down for long, but this isn't their year.
Posted by iceguy at 6/4/2007 1:44:00 PM
One thing that won't get better is the middle relief. In fact it will get worse and trade scenarios for arms is bleak. They have been taxed and then some and there is no cure for that. If you think Proctor is bad in May just wait til late August. Yes - They have good starters if things fall right with injuries and Yes Mo is still there but the bridge between them is already gone...
Posted by orange44 at 6/4/2007 1:49:00 PM
I don't buy it. That's a very old rotation they're relying on, and the bullpen has been a mess all year. The 96.5 over/under the Yanks had back in March was a gift and a half. Maybe they'll sneak in the playoffs, but this team isn't going to be relevant, when it's all added up, in 2007.
Posted by spianow at 6/4/2007 2:25:00 PM
Good points – Iceguy is right, NY isn’t “due” to win much more than 50% of the remaining one-run games this year. The Yanks have their flaws, no doubt, and the lineup isn’t historic, like I alluded to, but it’s still a very good one, and probably the best in the league. I was also trying to point out the lack of a great AL team among the second tier, making NY’s path to “sneak into the playoffs” easier. Detroit is hitting an unsustainable .322 w/ RISP. Over the last three seasons, just one team has finished with a BA better than .300 in those situations, so expect extreme regression to the mean there. Hey, I hope that I’m wrong.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 6/4/2007 7:29:00 PM
Given his struggles to get off the launching pad Clemens is looking a lot like Nolan Ryan did in his last couple of years... I'm sure he'll be effective when he pitches, but if he can only manage a dozen or so starts for the Yankees that's not going to be anywhere near enough to reverse their pitching fortunes.
Posted by ESiegrist at 6/5/2007 1:35:00 AM
Their pitching is horrible.....I don't see it happening this year.....they went on that second half tare 2 years ago but unless they are going to average 9 runs per game the second half this year it won't even be close....I don't even see them finishing second in their own division this year.....Clemons isn't going to be the savoir...lmao....GL
Posted by Zenguerrilla at 6/5/2007 2:27:00 PM
Who do you see finishing 2nd in the East? The Blue Jays? Come on, the Yanks will at least do that.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 6/5/2007 8:36:00 PM
Why not? Somebody has to, and the Jays' flaws are no more or less glaring than the Yanks' flaws.
Posted by ESiegrist at 6/6/2007 5:11:00 PM

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