Offseason In Review: New York Yankees

Next up in our Offseason In Review series, the Yankees.

Major League Signings

  • Andy Pettitte, SP: one year, $11.75MM
  • Nick Johnson, DH: one year, $5.75MM.  Includes $5.5MM mutual option for '11 with a $250K buyout.
  • Randy Winn, OF: one year, $1.1MM.
  • Total spend: $18.6MM.

Notable Minor League Signings

Trades and Claims

Notable Losses


The Yankees limited their free agent spending this offseason, making only two major moves in Pettitte and Johnson.  They kept both to one-year commitments.  GM Brian Cashman was an active trader in adding Granderson and Vazquez, and he didn't surrender a ton or take on ridiculous contracts.  Cashman's fine offseason was not about payroll clout this time.

CHONE projections have the new Yankee lineup scoring over 5.8 runs per game.  Even if that's optimistic, it still looks like the best offense in the league.  The addition of Vazquez plus Phil Hughes possibly replacing Joba Chamberlain is likely to push the Yankees' rotation ERA below 2009's 4.48 mark.  Cashman should be applauded for affordably improving upon a World Series champion, at least on paper.

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38 Comments on "Offseason In Review: New York Yankees"

5 years 7 months ago

I think this team will make it to the world series again. I think with joba on no innings limit, wang replaced by vazquez, and hopefully hughes in the pen the whole season, granderson over melky, and the platoon in left is significantly better than the defense johnny damon braught. The you add johnson over matsui, and this team is better than last years.

5 years 7 months ago

If Hughes is in the pen for another season, how will he ever get sufficiently stretched out to become a starter? Or do you envision him in long relief?

5 years 7 months ago

I think both will end up eventually in the rotation. And i do see that coming in the 2011 season, reason being pettite will most likely retire, and vazquez will also be a free agent. I think you’re better off having Joba in the rotation with no innings limit. What i really would like them to do for hughes, is possibly be the long relief man, or just have him pitch literally as often as possible out of the pen. That’s how you stretch him out. I don’t see it happening, but that’s the best way to stretch him out.

5 years 7 months ago

Pitching him as often as possible doesn’t stretch him out, it’s puts him at risk of elbow/shoulder injuries. The only real way to stretch him out is to have him start in the minors or do what they did with Joba last year and limit him to 2-4 innings for a few starts.

5 years 7 months ago

I don’t agree with that. 2-4 innings every 5 days didn’t do it for joba. He started complaining about it too. I think they’re better off joba in the 5 spot, and hughes in the long relief spot. That’s what i would do if i was girardi. Then your set up men could be marte and robertson.

5 years 7 months ago

Never said I thought they should do that, just pointing out that those are really the only two options. Pitching long relief doesn’t give you consistent work like pitching every 5th day. Either they get him ready to be a starter during spring training and shut him down/send him to the pen later in the year or they start him out in SWB and have him ready to fill in for injuries. Putting him in any kind of relief role means another year on an innings limit.

5 years 6 months ago

Why on earth would they ever waste hughes as a long man? that makes no sense at all, it he was in the pen then he’s pitching the 8th inning. the yanks made the right call, as joba was not as consistent, and there was not as many flashes of brilliance in the rotation as he had in the bullpen

5 years 7 months ago

I agree that that usage pattern is unlikely if Hughes is in the pen. That’s why I would prefer that he start the season at SWB if he isn’t in the ML rotation. That way he will be stretched out and ready to be in the rotation if an injury occurs. If all the starters remain healthy, he can be called up around the AS break to join the pen, while probably remaining on track to be able to start in 2011 with few, if any, limitations.

5 years 7 months ago

I agree, there is no way Damon or Matsui were going to repeat last year’s performances. Johnson is going to rake if he stays healthy. Having Jeter in front and Tex and ARod behind him is going to mean a steady diet of fastballs for him to rip. And if Granderson can hit 30 homers at Comerica, he can easily hit 35 this year. If all stay healthy, I would not be surprised if the trio of Granderson, Tex, and ARod hit 110-120 HR’s between them. Everyone else in that lineup except for their LF has the ability to hit 20 HR’s. There is no doubt that they have improved the lineup, the rotation, and most of all the defense (sorry Johnny) over the 2009 team. The only question mark is whether they can all stay healthy.

5 years 7 months ago

Wait a second.

Matsui and Damon won’t repeat their performances from last year? Why would you assume that?

Matsui – 09 – 274/367/509 … 876 OPS // Career – 292/370/482 … 852 OPS
Damon – 09 – 282/365/489 … 854 OPS // Yankee Career – 285/363/458 … 821 OPS

So, both guys played pretty close to their career norms as well as their recent norms. They saw a little boost in production (3-5%) that is probably a result of playing in the new Yankee stadium. Nothing about their 09 numbers stands out as fluke years.

So while both of those guys could easily repeat their 09 season you turn around and point to Johnson as someone who is going to “rake”?

This is a guy who logged 150 PA’s in 2008, 0 PA’s in 2007 and less than 300 PA’s in 2004. He has had ONE season with 600 or more PA’s in his entire career, while playing the least demanding position in baseball (1st Base). As for performance – he is a walking machine – no doubt about it. But, he has lost his power. Seriously, a DH with an XBH ratio of 5.9% (down from 11% at his career peak) … that’s not great. When pitchers realize that he can be challenged I don’t think those walks will come so easily. This is especially true knowing who is hitting behind him.

Then you go on to discuss how Granderson is a lock with A-Rod and Teix to hit 110 HR’s. Granderson has hit 24 or more HR’s exactly ONCE in his career – and that was last year. While his HR total was impressive it came at a steep, steep cost. Granderson’s OPS dropped below 800. His BA was down, his XBH were all way down. From his peak in 2007 (where 12.5% of his hits were for extra bases) to 2009 (8.6%) his ability get XBH’s has tanked. I don’t think Granderson is a lock for anything. His numbers have ALL been trending down for 2 years now.

At the end of the day I think the Yankees made solid moves, but they are not without major risks. It’s very easy for me to envision a scenario where both Damon and Matsui outperform Johnson and Granderson. I’m not saying that they will – only that there is a better than decent chance that it will happen. I think you are really minimizing the talent of both Damon and Matsui and completely ignoring the major issues that both Granderson and Johnson are facing.

5 years 7 months ago

There is no denying that they lost talent in Matsui and Damon. It was aging talent though. They both had a couple of the best years of their careers last year at an advanced baseball age and managed to stay healthy all year. The Yanks really lucked out last year. Also, I am still not convinced about the accuracy of these defensive stats but you do not need them to realize that Damon is a serious liability in the field. A lot of what he adds offensively, he takes right away with his glove. The way he moves his feet while he is camped out under a lazy fly ball and then stabs at it with his glove reminds me of watching my daughter’s softball team when she was 8. Whoever plays LF this year will be such an upgrade over him that it will ease the burden of loosing his bat.

Johnson is not batting second in this lineup to get XBH’s or drive in runs. It is to get on base in front of Tex and ARod and to move Jeter over. There was a great article at RiverAveBlues a couple weeks ago about his ability to hit a fastball, you should check it out its an interesting read. He may not walk as much as in the past due to be challenged more by pitchers, but the man knows how to handle a fastball and that short porch will help him just like it helped Damon.

It would be interesting to, at the end of the year, compare the sum of the offensive production of Johnson/Granderson to Matsui/Damon. Unfortunately, that short porch at the Stadium will make any comparisons difficult to make since all of those players bat left handed. I agree with you that a full season of career norms from Matsui/Damon is better than the same from Granderson/Johnson, you are just taking a big gamble on the Matsui/Damon combination staying healthy.

Finally, if, and its a big if, Granderson, ARod and Tex are healthy all year, they will hit 110 HR’s between the 3 of them. The porch is just that short and a healthy ARod does not even need the help.

5 years 7 months ago

“plus Phil Hughes possibly replacing Joba Chamberlain is likely to push the Yankees’ rotation ERA below 2009’s 4.48 mark”

Why do people automatically believe Hughes is better than Joba as a starter?
Wait let me guess; because Joba has a bulldog in a china shop mentality?

5 years 7 months ago

No. It’s because Hughes has more above-average pitches than Joba, including better offspeed stuff. Starters need a wider repertoire than closers, because they’re likely to see batters three or even four times a game, instead of once.

5 years 7 months ago

And who has had more sucess as a starter?
If Joba went 8 starts, 34 IP, 6.62 era, 1.71 whip in 2008, would you be saying to put him in the rotation or send him to the bullpen?

For the record, I want both as starters long term. But Joba is the only one of the two who has pitched a full season and has no innings limit.

5 years 7 months ago

Sure, Joba’s had success as a starter, and probably will again if he’s in the role. But to sustain it, he’s got to develop a third pitch (or return to throwing 97 mph consistently). I think Hughes has #2 starter written all over him, and now that he’s had major-league success, it makes sense to move him into the role. Joba can be an All-Star in either role, but bouncing him back and forth is the worst possible use, so whatever they do with him in the spring, it needs to continue all season long.

5 years 7 months ago

“now that he’s had major-league success”

As a reliever, he filled in good as a starter in 07, but that was 2 seasons ago. I agree they shouldnt be bounced back and forth because its bad for development. And I dont want to start a major debate on the two; I just constantly see people say that Hughes should get the 5th spot and I see no evidence that he’s a better choice than Joba.

5 years 7 months ago

I think both are excellent young pitchers. The reason I gave first — larger repertoire, including offspeed — is the reason I (and, I believe, other folks) believe that Hughes can and will succeed as a starter. He does need stretching out, after last season, and probably shouldn’t pitch close to 200 innings this year. I mentioned Hughes’ success last year because his prior exposure to the majors had produced poor results; good innings in the pen are far better for a young pitcher’s confidence and development than poor starts.

5 years 7 months ago

My issue with the matter is that Joba NEEDS his 95+ velocity in order to be successful, or else hitters will just lay off his slider and wait for a mediocre fastball.

There were NUMEROUS factors that went into Hughes having a bad first go-around as a starter, among them being inexperience, injury (or at least I think he was pitching injured), and nerves (the Yanks basically told him “Hey, you’re our new number 2, go out there and be amazing after he had barely any starts in the majors. How would you react after your first bad outing?)

This year, Hughes started decently, with a few bad starts mixed in (though his May start against the Sox would have went much better if it wasn’t for the worst strike-calling umpire in the league.), and was put into the pen after a decent 5-inning start.

He has experience, and his pitch makeup (plus cutter, plus plus curveball, average fastball) does not require he have blazing speed. Joba, on the other hand, needs more than 92mph in order for his great slider to actually work.

5 years 7 months ago

or maybe because hughes will probably improve on a 4.75 mark?

5 years 7 months ago

For me it was just Hughes’ 2010 CHONE projection and Chamberlain’s 4.75 mark. I wouldn’t say I “automatically believe” it, it’s more just the way I lean currently.

5 years 7 months ago

CHONE didnt even give Joba’s projection as a starter, they did it as a reliever. So how can you use CHONE to say he’s going to be better?

5 years 7 months ago

That doesn’t matter to the point I was trying to make…that Hughes’ 2010 projection tops Joba’s 2009 production.

5 years 7 months ago

Right, and Joba’s 2010 projection will top Joba’s 2009 production. It should have read the growth of Hughes or Joba in the 5th spot will lower their ERA from 2009. Just looks like the statement is a bit biased the way it is, JMO.

5 years 7 months ago

I don’t see it as bias to guess that Hughes wins the gig, I am allowed to make predictions. Hughes is the favorite, per Joel Sherman.

5 years 7 months ago

Why do you say that? He was 8 starts, 34 IP, 6.62 era, 1.71 whip in 2008 as a starter, and and 7 starts, 34.2 IP, 5.45 era in 2009.

So why do you claim Hughes will improve on the 4.75? (by the way, if you look at Joba’s numbers, when he went up past his career high in innings thats when it went down hill, just sayin’)

5 years 7 months ago

Hughes had one terrible start in Baltimore this past year where he allowed 8 runs in 1.2 innings. Looking at all his other 6 starts, he allowed more than 3 runs just once (4 runs in 5 innings in his final start) and pitched to a 3.55 ERA. I know you can’t just completely throw out that start, but one start can really skew the numbers over a sample size that small.

5 years 7 months ago

While I agree Cashman did a very nice efficient job with his team this year, I wouldn’t go so far to say that ‘he didn’t surrender a ton’. Vizciano, Jackson, Cabrera, Kennedy, Dunn, and Coke is a sizeable amount of talent to trade away for two, albiet good, players

5 years 7 months ago

“I wouldn’t go so far to say that ‘he didn’t surrender a ton’. Vizciano, Jackson, Cabrera, Kennedy, Dunn, and Coke is a sizeable amount of talent to trade away for two, albiet good, players”

Agreed, but really what did they give up? Cabrera is a great chemistry guy, and a fun guy to root for, but he isn’t Curtis Granderson. Kennedy has question marks coming back from that injury and would be facing an impossible battle to crack the starting rotation for forseeable future anyway. Coke, Dunn, and Vizciano are projected RP and aside from the very best, RP are a dime a dozen from season to season. Giving up Jackson sucked, but I’d take MLB proven talent over projected prospects any day of the week, especially when said talent comes with a good contract. Outside of the Coke for Logan swap of LHP out of the pen I think they’ve upgraded every position.

5 years 7 months ago

Not a Yankee or Red Sox fan but I’ll take the Red Sox in ’10. The Yankees could absolutely run away with things if everyone is healthy and productive. But I think there is a real good chance that Johnson gets injured for a sizable amount of the season, that Vazquez reverts back to a pitcher with an ERA in the 4.5, that Granderson is a corner OF’er with an OPS around 800 and that neither Hughes or Joba come out as anything more than an average starter (for this season – both have bright futures).

So, while the upside is much higher with the Yankees, they carry much more risk. I don’t think the Red Sox can match the Yankees in talent but I see far fewer question marks and better depth.

In either event, it’s going to be fun to watch both of these really good teams.

5 years 7 months ago

The Red Sox are carrying plenty of risk. Hermida’s not a proven quantity, and both Ortiz and Cameron, while talented, saw their performances slide noticeably last season (and aren’t getting any younger). Lowell is still hurt, as apparently is Dice-K. Their pitching staff has to prove itself again (except for Lester). I wouldn’t call the Sox a sure thing by any means.

5 years 7 months ago

Its OK, Boston was “better” than the Yanks in 09 as well. Actually the Rays were as well.

5 years 7 months ago

You keep bringing up these Johnson injuries. While yes he got injured alot, there were some freak injuries. One where he broke his femur after colliding with teammate Austin Kearns. He def. is injury prone but what you are missing is that Johnson will not be playing the field. Johnson being a DH greatly limits his chance of getting injured.

More nitpicks:
Judging a pitcher by ERA alone? Not very smart. Even if Vasquez has an “ERA of 4.5” I would not complain at all coming from my 4th starter.

Why are you assuming Granderson a corner outfielder? And what is wrong with a corner outfielder with an OPS around 800 who plays fantastic defense? Do you know that the red sox have a corner outfielder that has never reached an 800 ops ever in a full season? His name is Jacoby Ellsbury and opposite of Granderson he does not play superb defense.

Lets see: “So, while the upside is much higher with the Yankees, they carry much more risk. I don’t think the Red Sox can match the Yankees in talent but I see far fewer question marks and better depth. ”

Can there 37 year old centerfielder still perform while strikeing out over 150 times? How about JD Drew, He’s pretty much the same injury risk as Nick JOhnson. Marco scutaro just had a career year at 35. Will he be another Julio Lugo?

Each team has some risk, just like every team. But by saying the Yankees carry much more risk is just insane.

5 years 7 months ago

Weren’t you the one who liked that the Nats gave Jason Marquis 15 mil for two years?

Yet Andy Pettitte, a pitcher worth almost double that of Marquis (on an average year), doesn’t deserve 12 mil? (Plus, it’s a one year deal which means far less risk)

Pettitte’s career FIP = 3.74
Marquis’ career FIP = 4.82

That’s more than a run less. (Playing in the AL and even worse, AL EAST)

Marquis’ best year would have been an off year for Pettitte.

Yet, one is worth the multi year contract and the other is being overpaid?!
12 mil, although not an absolute steal is still quite the bargain for a pitcher of Pettitte’s caliber.

Great job by Cashman this offseason. Thank the baseball gods that he is running this organization and not that moron Minaya or any of their delusional fans.

5 years 7 months ago

cashman did perfectly fine this offseason while keeping the budget down. The acusitition of granderson was the highlight of the winter. Grandy will soon become a fan favorite in new york and people will start to forget about damon. the yanks should win the division again easiley if everyone can stay healthy, they should have another 100 win season and repeat as champions. for those people saying that the red sox are better here is what i have to say. first off it looks like dice k is going to miss the start of spring training (what else is new). Is josh beckett going to be the josh beckett of past years or the one at the end of the season last year? they signed a 35 year old shortstop who had a career year last year and will not have the same this season. they have a ancient third baseman in mike lowell even if they did add beltre. big slopy sucks end of story. signing a 37 year old centerfielder who strikes out a TON!! And JD drew and cameron are all injury risk players. and all those fans saying nick johnson is he is hitting DH people hes not gonna get hurt. so all u sox fans out there be prepared to see another yankee world championship #28 fellas.

Ricky Bones
5 years 7 months ago

Vazquez will be a complete disaster. He is w/o variance an every other year pitcher & this year is the bad turn. Furthermore, his worst years, and by a large margin, came while in the American league. Not a competitor & begins to struggle the second time through the lineup.

Winn doesn’t make a lot of sense. He’s old & bad. Take a shot w/ Baldelli. You’d think playing every fifth day should give him enough time to recoup from his odd fatigue issues.

Joba’s fastball lost significant velocity last year which may or may not be a big issue but a decision definitely needs to be made once & for all where and how best he is utilized.

5 years 7 months ago

Vazquez is the Yankees 4th starter, even if he gives the Yankees

4.30 ERA, 205 IP, 14-11, that is better than what was there last season in the #4 spot.

The Yankees aren’t asking and don’t intend for Vazquez to be a #1, #2 pitcher on their staff. He is a veteran who will provide double digit wins and 200 innings to the back of the rotation.

Winn make a lot of sense for 1.1 million with incentives as a platoon player with Brett Gardner over the season.

He will be a #9 batter when he starts
He provides terrific defense and speed in the field
He provides speed on the bases and off the bench

He had 141, hits, 33 doubles, 5 triples, 16 steals,
Its the 8th straight year he has had 33+ doubles.

He hits very well situationally his whole career with men on base

2009 –

Runners On – .307 AVG, .368 OBP, .401 SLG, .769 OPS (192 at bats)

Scoring Position – .319 AVG, .379 OBP, .448 SLG, .827 OPS (116 at bats)

Bases Loaded – .375 AVG, .444 OBP, .625 SLG, 1.069 OPS (8 at bats)

Scoring Position and 2 Outs – .370 AVG, .443 OBP, .500 SLG, .943 OPS (54 at bats)

Runners On –

2008 – .288
2007 – .306
2006 – .243
2005 – .296
2004 – .301
2003 – .326
2002 – .313

Scoring Position –

2008 – .292
2007 – .286
2006 – .236
2005 – .262
2004 – .308
2003 – .349
2002 – .316

Bases Loaded –

2008 – .125
2007 – .273
2006 – .444
2005 – .286
2004 – .455
2003 – .389
2002 – .400

Scoring Position and 2 Outs –

2008 – .319
2007 – .137
2006 – .258
2005 – .288
2004 – .261
2003 – .372
2002 – .303

Winn will be very useful to the Yankees this coming season at the bottom of the order splitting time with Gardner. He isn’t being asked to hit in the heart of the order.

Joba is the #5 pitcher and pitched 157 innings last season and went 9-6, the guy is a young pitcher in the AL East.

Look at Santana and Halladay’s numbers as young pitchers, people would have been saying those guys were bums in their first couple of seasons.

Not every pitcher is Tim Lincecum and comes up from the minors to dominate.

Look at Zack Greinke, he exploded last season 5 years into his career as a starter.

The Yankees will give Joba the opportunity to pitch as a starter without any rules, unless he stinks in Spring as a starter.

The long term goal is for Hughes and Chamberlain to be in the rotation.

Ricky Bones
5 years 7 months ago

4.30 ERA is a very optimistic outlook for Vazquez. Somewhere in the 4.70 range would be more realistic based upon trends. He can get to double digit wins but wins are not an accurate portrayal of a pitcher’s performances.

Those situationals are impressive for Winn, but he’s been an everyday player for the vast majority of his career & this will not be the case in 2010 so that should also be taken into account.

Joba is not now nor will he ever be in the same discussion as any of the four starters you mentioned so I’m not sure where that comparison comes from. His approach to the game & lack of pitch variety best suits a bullpen role. The extra work took a toll & caused his velocity to drop off as the year went on, as is common w/ all starters. The issue, however, is that Joba only has his heat. That works out of the pen but for a starter it’s an untenable path.

5 years 7 months ago

Yeah, good point. That kind of money should be spent on somebody like Oliver Perez.