Friday, February 25, 2011

Standing Out Again

(Please see DV's post below about a new endeavor he is getting started up.)

It's very easy to blend in as part of the Yankees' lineup. The strength of the lineup won't cover up a major underperformance, but if you have a good but not great season it isn't nearly as noticeable as it would be in a lesser lineup. This was the case for Mark Teixeira in 2010. His counting stats were still excellent, and very close to his career averages: 33 homers, 108 RBI, and an AL leading 113 runs. But his rate stats were way down: his OPS was over 100 points lower than it had been in each of the previous three years.

Not that he can be fairly crushed for this. He was banged up for most of the second half and still played in 158 games. That's the kind of player I want on my team. What's more, it's a luxury to have a player who when hurting and having a down year can still go downtown 33 times and drive in 108. That's the sign of a great player, which we know Teixeira to be.

Still, if healthy, the Yankees need more in 2011. If I had to pick two guys not to blend in it would be Teixeira and Cano. I think Rodriguez still has plenty in the tank, I think Jeter will bounceback, and I think the Yankees will get their usual contributions up and down the lineup from "role players" that would be go-to guys on a lot of teams. But the 1998 lineup was unique. In most instances you need that core to center the lineup around. The Yankees should have the pleasure of having a three-man core in Rodriguez, Teixeira, and Cano, which few if any other teams can boast. As Rodriguez gets up there in age, and his production and playing time become less of a certainty, the Yankees will rely on Teixeira and Cano more and more.

And that's why you need to see more from Teixeira. You need him to be what he was in 2009, and almost every other year in his career for that matter. You need him to stand out the way Cano did in 2010. Not just be a very good player. Lead the lineup. Be the best bat on the team. Be a player that scares the opposition every time he steps to the plate because of the numbers he is putting up. Teixeira definitely had that fear factor in 2009, not nearly as much in 2010.

I realize that this might seem like a lot to ask of a player who put up the numbers Teixeira did in 2010, but this is what Teixeira was brought in to do. Produce at an elite level, not a very good one. It wouldn't hurt to get this process started by getting a few hits in April, something he hasn't done at a high level since 2006. Even last year, April was by far and away the biggest culprit. From Opening Day to May 1, he hit .153/.314/.271/.585 with 2 homers, 10 RBI, and 11 runs scored. From May 2 through the rest of the season he hit .273/.374/.516/.889 with 31 homers, 98 RBI, and 102 runs scored. Not quite vintage Teixeira, but a lot closer. So even in a down year it was more a down April than anything else. Not only would a good April in 2011 be good for the team and his total production, but it would be a great start to standing out again the way Teixiera did for this team in 2009. That's the version they need in 2011.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

PF

The Yankees are going to score 850 or more runs this year, whether or not Teixeira is going to get things done. Mariano Rivera is going to close out games with his usually high rate of success.

The issue is going to be what the starters bring. Sabathia is one of the best in the game, but everybody else is up in the air. Is there talent in the rotation? Absolutely. But talent doesn't always equal production. For all the talk about the Yankees/Sox line-ups, I'm more concerned about the respective pitching staffs--that's where the difference will be made.

--the Gunn

Patrick said...

i think you are very right about that gunn. for all the talk about the yankees' staff, the projection systems have been similarly skeptical about the red sox staff so far. the red sox are projected to win 93-94 games, the yankees 91-92. of course this offers nothing more than a general statistical idea of where the teams stand on paper, and is also relative on two separate levels. first, in terms of being "skeptical", the red sox are projected to win the most games in the AL, the yankees second, so it's only skeptical in comparison to each other, obviously. second, different systems will be "high" and "low" in terms of wins, but it will usually be so across the boards for all teams. so you get an idea of about how far apart teams are on paper, even if the actual amount of wins aren't right on point (i could see the yankees and red sox both winning more games than this in 2011, but still be separated by two games as their rosters stand right now).

this similarly cautious approach to their rotations makes sense, because in 2010 they were eerily similar. sabathia and lester are studs. hughes and buchholz are up and comers. burnett and beckett were both busts. perhaps most surprisingly, lackey had a 4.40 and garcia had a 4.60. at this stage, nova and matsuzaka are similarly unknowns in terms of what they will give you, with matsuzaka having more of a track record of success at times.

where the difference lies is that, unless and until the yankees make a move, the red sox rotation has a more established level on the high end. it's more likely that beckett, lackey, and matsuzaka will give you better than 2010 than it is burnett, garcia, and nova overall. that is the main things separating these teams right now. i think the yankees will score more runs, but not by a lot. i think the yankees will have a better bullpen, but that the red sox have the potential to also have a very good one. the back of the rotation for the sox has a better chance of giving you something really positive than the yankees does, and that's why i think the yankees will need to get more separation than their lineup. teixeira is a big part of that. maybe they score 850 runs with teixeira just being very good like last year. but if he goes off like he did in 2009, maybe they score 900+ again. that's not going to change just because of him, but his added individual production plus how much more dangerous he makes the whole lineup when he's producing like that has a huge impact.

Ross Kaplan said...

I'm much more curious to see what Posada is going to do this season than I am about Teixera. He's likely to give you the same numbers every season, but I am very interested to see how much Posada's numbers will improve when he's no longer the starting catcher.

Anonymous said...

PF

Are you shittin' me? The Knicks get their biggest win in more than a decade and you can't get us a post about it? I want to write things like "Nobody wants to see the Knicks in the first round" and "Miami and Boston are trying to fend off Chicago to avoid the third spot as much as they're trying finish first." Instead, I'm getting nothing. Come on now, you're better than that.

--the Gunn

the gm at work said...

Less is more.

the gm at work said...

As far as this post goes, I think the most telling stuff is in Pat's first comment here. As bad as everyone might be saying the Yankees' pitching staff is, they are very comparable to the Red Sox', minus all the hype.

Ross Kaplan said...

Gunn don't forget St. John's return to prominence. Today's Daily News had St. John's as the the 4 seed in the Anaheim bracket. Now just think if they were to play Notre Dame. Pat's head would explode.

the gm at work said...

Tank,

The Daily News saying that is like NESN projecting the Red Sox to win 120 games.

WINNING.

Patrick said...

we don't need more posts about 6th place basketball teams (the knicks) and mediocre basketball teams (St. John's). the definition of mediocre, of course, is: a team that is 19-9, tied for 3rd place in the toughest conference in the country, is one of only two teams to beat 6 top 25 teams (4 of which were top 10, and #5 texas is the other team to have done this), has gone 8-1 in their last 9 games (playing their best basketball at the end of the year), and is 14th in RPI and 4th in SOS (two of the biggest things the tournament committee looks at) BEFORE beating #15 villanova on the road is factored in. may as well be talking about wichita st. playing george mason. it's out of our scope, so therefore no posts despite the exciting nba and college basketball weekend.

a nice win for the knicks (although if you had watched friday night like me you know this isn't going to be all flowers and sunshine this year, but as last night proved it won't be that bad, and obviously it all continues to set things up nicely for the future) and another nice win for St. John's.

tank, if SJU has a very legitimate chance to be a 4 seed. even with a total collapse it would be tough for them to go lower than 7, as it stands right now they are likely a 5 or a 6, and with a strong finish @seton hall, home against south florida, and maybe one win in the big east tournament they could be looking at a 4. lunardi from espn, who has missed 9 teams in the last 9 years, has them as a 6, and that was before nova (new one should come out today). cbs' updated bracket has SJU as a 4. so it's really not just a daily news bias thing.

Patrick said...

sure enough, joe lunardi has SJU as a 4 seed in his new bracket today

the gm at work said...

No sweat, Pat. Your blog, too.

I'll check back in when David Ortiz starts to play baseball. Less is more.

Patrick said...

i apologize for the excessive amount of basketball talk. i know we've always mixed it in but i've taken it to the next level. i'm starting to turn the corner to baseball. it's just an unusual experience for me in the last 10 years having the knicks and johnnies being relevant again. it used to be football ended and i couldn't wait for pitchers and catchers. this year is the least prepared i've been for a baseball season in a long time, especially considering when it's all said and done i'll have attended roughly 25 college basketball games. i just haven't spent as much time with baseball as usual. and i'm totally fine with that, i'd much rather have offseason baseball storylines take backseat to exciting basketball, with baseball taking it's place in the mix closer to when the season starts. but with the spring training games starting now and the season exactly one month away, i'm starting to get into it. thinking up a post on montero's defense for tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

PF

The Knicks are a terrible match-up for the Heat. Terrible. Physically, the Knicks can throw Carmelo and Bill Walker at Lebron (Walker did a very respectable job last night) and nobody can match-up with Amare. Plus, Fields is a nice guy to throw at Wade. If somehow the Knicks slipped to seventh or the Heat fell to third that would be THE series of the first round.

--the Gunn

Ross Kaplan said...

Gunn, since when does a 7 seed play a 3 seed? I'm guessing that was a typo. Miami-NY would be an awesome series if not only for the match up, but also for the history between the two teams. Lebron-Melo will probably never come close to comparing to the intensity of the Ewing-Mourning rivalry, but last nights game reminded of how awesome that rivalry was in the 90s when I was still actually a Knicks fan and that game 5 of the 1st round of the 98 playoffs when Houston's series winning shot put the 8th seeded Knicks on a shocking NBA finals run.

Patrick said...

ross - gunn's usage of the word OR was big there. i hope he and/or bandi roast you for that one.

jonathan said...

Pat,

I'm more concerned about Ross's assertion that this rivarly will never come close to the Ewing/Mourning rivarly as far as intensity...huh?

Both Anthony and James are better than either Ewing or Mourning. In addition, Ewing was easily on the downside of his career when that rivarly really heated up. You're telling me that Carmelo/Amare vs. Wade/James doesn't have the potential to be more intense than Ewing/Houston vs. Mourning/Hardaway. Come on Tank. Get you act together please for all of our sakes.

To me this has the potential to be a very interesting rivalry and I am personally very excited as a basketball fan. You have Carmelo and Lebron going at it at the SF postion, then you have two different secondary scoring options on both teams: On the Heat you have Wade, the cutting slashing guard vs. the Knicks having one of the most explosive big men in the game (You could have Amare as the #1 scoring option but I'm expecting Carmelo will dominate the basketball more as he gets more comfortable).

That of course leaves Bosh as the X factor but I would rate him as a very unreliable X factor (Lamar Odomesque I believe the Gunn called him).

Should be good for a long time to come.

Lastly, Gunn, is there any doubt that we need more Bill Walton on Celtics broadcasts?

Anonymous said...

Ross

I hope you read contracts and police reports more carefully than you read my comment.

Bandi

You're Bill Walton. You're already in the Hall of Fame as a player and you're working on your resume as an analyst/contributor. You live on the West Coast and prefer staying out there and being a hippie at all times, but you know that you can bring something more to the table than just a few Celtics games after the All-Star break. So what do you do? You call up Comcast and tell them that Donny Marshall touches little boys inappropriately so that you can snipe his job and ultimately become the replacement for Tommy Heinsohn. That's what you do.

--the Gunn

Anonymous said...

PF,

Is Brewer that bad that the Knicks have to buy him out? I just cannot figure out this buyout business.

TimC