Many Yankees fans, including myself, have been worrying about the current state of the team. And because other teams have been so busy this offseason, and the Yankees have barely done anything, fans fear that the Yankees idle status makes them an inferior team this year. Usually, the Yankees shine in the offseason and blow all other teams away. This year, not so much.
But there are other Yankees fans who feel that my worries are nonsense. Eric from Mouthofthesouthshore is one of these. I rant to him, saying things like, "Oh I hope the Yankees can contend next year..." and he responds, "Of course they will. What makes you think they are any worse than they were last year?"
I am speechless after his bold question.
"Uhh...well, you know Andy Pettitte might retire...and the Red Sox made a few moves, and the Yankees really haven't done anything." I say.
"Tell me something," he says. "Why must the Yankees counter every move other teams make?"
Again, I'm speechless.
"Jeez I don't know..." I give up.
Then he poses a barrage of questions too quickly for me to even answer.
"Do you really want the Yankees to spent unnecessary dollars just to make moves? Do they even need to? How much worse are they now than they were last year? Are the Red Sox even that much better? Are the acquisitions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez going to make up for their loss Victor Martinez?"
I don't even try to respond...he's winning.
"Tell me something. Position by position, who's got the better players: Yankees or Red Sox?" Here he knows that I know he's right.
Catchers: Jason Varitek/Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Russell Martin/Francisco Cervelli/Jorge Posada?
Clearly, the Yankees have the edge at this position. Varitek's skills are winding down, and Saltalamacchia is a career .248 hitter with a career CS% of just 20%. Russell Martin was a very underrated acquisition by the Yanks. He is a great defender, and a former All Star backstop whom the Yanks think can get back to that form. Francisco Cervelli is an average backup, who was incredibly streaky in 2010. And Jorge Posada is a future Hall of Famer. Even if he doesn't catch much in 2010, he is an asset to the team.
First Base: Adrian Gonzalez or Mark Teixeira?
I give Mark Teixeira the edge at this position despite all the hoopla about A-Gon. Sure, Gonzalez was a fine player in San Diego - he hit .298 with 31 HR and 101 RBI in 2010 - but that was San Diego. Who knows how his numbers will translate in the AL East? Mark Teixeira has proved he can succeed in the AL East, and had more HR and RBI than Gonzalez last season, while also leading the league in Runs scored. And nobody is a better defender than Mark Teixeira.
Second Base: Dustin Pedroia or Robinson Cano?
No doubt, Robinson Cano is better. Cano has more power, hits for a higher batting average, and is the smoothest Second Baseman I've ever had the pleasure of seeing.
Shortstop: Jed Lowrie/Marco Scutaro or Derek Jeter?
WOW. Jeez I don't know. I'd say the Yankees have the sure edge at this position, considering their guy is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Even though Jeter hit just .270 last season, he's still the best. And he's working alongside Kevin Long to be sure to bounce back in 2011. There is no comparison: Jeter is better than any shortstop the Red Sox can dream of acquiring.
Third Base: Kevin Youkilis or Alex Rodriguez?
Both were plagued by injuries in 2010, yet Youkilis missed more action. Alex Rodriguez was still able to reach the 30 HR/100 RBI plateau. Youkilis is getting to the best years of his career, while most likely, A-Rod's best years are behind him. But even so, Alex Rodriguez is one of the best players in baseball, and I'd rather have him than Youkilis any day.
Right Field: J.D Drew or Nick Swisher?
Nick Swisher had the best year of his career in 2010, and J.D. Drew...didn't. He had okay power numbers, but dipped significantly in average, hitting just .255. Swish had a career-high .288 average, with solid power numbers of 29 HR and 89 RBI. And while Red Sox fans are not particularly fond of Drew, Yankees fans can't get enough of Nick Swisher. So I give the Yankees the edge in right field as well.
Center Field: Jacoby Ellsbury/Mike Cameron or Curtis Granderson?
Jacoby Ellsbury played just 18 games last season. To be honest, I don't expect great things from him. He's a nice ballplayer, but he seems overrated. Ellsbury is a good defender and he's fast. Mike Cameron is old and is a career .250 hitter, though he is an above-average defender. The Yankees have Granderson, who struggled through the first half of 2010. But once he got going, he never stopped. Curtis Granderson is a 5 tool player who I expect BIG things from in the 2011 season. I think the Yankees have the edge in center.
Left Field: Carl Crawford or Brett Gardner?
Carl Crawford was a huge acquisition for the Red Sox. He was one of the best offensive players on the market, and is a fine defender as well. He is a real 5 tool player. But sticking him in left field doesn't make sense to me...he is so good at covering ground, so they stick him where the giant wall is? I would use him in center, but whatever. He is still better than Brett Gardner, who isn't much more than a speedster and solid glove (though I think he is adorable, and he beats Crawford in cuteness). So the Red Sox have the edge in left with Crawford.
Let's see. The Yankees have 7 points, the Red Sox have 1.
At this point, Eric is looking pretty darn smart, and suddenly my worries seem silly.
I pose a question that I feel will stump him. "Okay, the Yankees are better in these aspects, but what about their pitching?"
I think I have him stumped, but no.
"We have CC Sabathia, one of the best aces in the game. A.J. Burnett can only get better at this point. Phil Hughes had a good season as a starter, and I expect him to get even better. Nova is a promising young arm. And okay, Sergio Mitre...but I'm sure the Yankees will sign someone, maybe like a Freddy Garcia, who can be a pretty good 5th starter."
He continues by explaining how the Yankees improved by acquiring Pedro Feliciano, one of the top lefty-specialists out there.
"And the Red Sox?" I asked.
He explains that Josh Beckett is really not that good, and I concur. Dice-K is inconsistent, and Lackey is overrated. Buchholz, and Lester especially, are above average young arms.
So the Yankees still have an offensive edge, and for pitching, they might be evenly matched. That's quite comforting, considering I previously felt that the Yankees were screwed for 2011.
And still, the offseason is not over.
by Virginia Califano