In 2009, I decided to get a feel for other teams around baseball by asking bloggers for those teams some questions about their squad. Not only has this series been very popular, but it spawned the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. With camps opening up again and spring training getting into gear, it's time once again to play a little pepper.
New York Yankees
97-65, first in the NL East, lost in five games to Detroit in the ALDS
The Yankees are still the Yankees.
They will spend money, they will win games, and they will get to October. Now, they may not be the lock for the World Series like they used to be and they may be getting a little longer in the tooth, but they are still a team to be reckoned with.
Last year, they were able to eventually cruise to the division title (after a tussle with Boston in the summer), though they played a part in Game 162 by losing to Tampa Bay after having a large lead. However, they weren't able to get past Detroit, losing two one-run games to go home for the winter.
A new season and the Yankees are still considered the team to beat. Writing about them as they do so is an extensive blogosphere, well represented by the people we have with us for this entry.
Gregg Snyder keeps up with the pinstripers at Double G Sports, where you'll find all sorts of sports coverage. He's on Twitter at DoubleGSports.
C70: What was your opinion of the team's offseason?
DGS: Slow start, big but risky finish. The Jesus Montero/Michael Pineda trade could be a disaster or a big get. Pineda has the tools, but can he handle NY and the smaller ballpark, not to mention the AL East. The signing of Hiroki Kuroda is another risk, but one worth taking in my opinion. Resigning their arbitration players as well as Andruw Jones was big. Overall, a solid offseason.
LLP: It was an adjustment period because Yankee Universe are still not used to the new motto of "practicing patience" because the off-season started out so slow, and that is putting it kindly.
Myself included, felt very uneasy watching all these free agents sign elsewhere, but in the end the Yankees came through as usual.
Trading Jesus Montero made total sense to me because his catching skills were not good enough to keep around and his 6'5 height will likely continue to hold him back as a catcher.
Yes, Montero's killer bat is no joke, but the Yankees had bigger holes to fill and could afford to lose his bat with there potent offense. Obtaining two young arms in Michael Pineda, along with a stellar prospect in Jose Campos not only helps the 2012 team but also builds for the future.
The addition of an innings eater like Hiroki Kuroda for one season just iced the cake, as it was the best way possible to get better without adding to the payroll.
C70: What player are you most worried about declining in this upcoming season?
DGS: David Robertson. Mainly because he is the rock in the bullpen behind Rivera. AftE. Robertson we have guys like Joba Chamberlain and Rafael Soriano. Both those guys are talented but injury prone and sometimse head cases. If Robertson has a bad year or gets injured, it could be a rough season for the Yankees bullpen.
LLP: I hate to say it but Derek Jeter, and it is not because he is not talented enough. Honestly, I feel that Jeter is more about his brand than the team lately and unless that changes I see him struggling again.
C70: Can A.J. Burnett have any sort of decent season, like getting his ERA under 5? (Note: I sent these questions out over a month ago. How was I to know they'd find a taker for him?)
DGS: Can he? Sure. Will he? I have my doubts. I think the Yankees really needed to part ways. I know it was hard, but sometimes you have to swallow your pride and take the hit. A strong start will be key for Burnett, that would allow his confidence and the teams confidence to start strong. A bad start and the fans will get on him, he will lose confidence and it could be an even worse season than last.
LLP: First off, I do not think looking at a player's ERA is a good way to judge them season-to-season because it doesn't take into account things the pitcher cannot control, like a defensive support, ballpark factors and just overall bad luck.
I am not trying to defend Burnett's ups and downs, but I do think that Yankee fans are too hard on him. Yes, Burnett can frustrate the most patient of people, but he did come through in the 2011 ALDS in a do or die game to keep the Yankees in the World Series running. And in New York, October is the only month that matters.
Burnett had 173 strikeouts in 2011, and held batters to a .260 average for the regular season. He finished in top ten in the AL for strikeouts per nine-innings averaging 8.2.
The high ERA is also to the high number of walks and in 2011 he totaled 83. This has been an issue for him throughout his career. The 31 home-runs was the real ERA killer, but when you dig deeper 19 bombs were hit at Yankee Stadium, which just happens to be a hitter's dream park. If he can cut the number of homers he gives up, Burnett's ERA would be much better.
The added booing certainly doesn't help Burnett either; and it is about time entitled Yankee fans show some support for the guy because it could really help him and the team.
Regardless, overall I think Burnett will have a much better 2012 than is being presumed and I hope he does.
C70: Is there a prospect that will make an impact on the team this season?
DGS: Austin Romine. I think Romine could end up being the backup catcher in the Bronx at some point this season. Cervelli just doesnt cut it for me. If Romine can find a way to improve his bat, expect to see him get plenty of time in the majors.
LLP: Michael Pineda will flourish on the New York stage. I know he is not a prospect, but he is entering his second pro-season and first in New York so he is as pretty close to being a prospect.
The reason I say Pineda over Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos is because the Yankees are gun shy about brining up pitching prospects because of the Hughes, Chamberlain and Kennedy disaster. You can understand why, so if anything the Killer B's might make an appurtenance in the Bronx in September, pending there are no injuries that speed it up.
C70: Where will the team finish in their division and what are you most excited about for 2012?
DGS: Best case scenario, first place. Worst case, third place. If the pieces all fit and work out (Kuroda, Pineda, Alex Rodriguez healthy, Ivan Nova improves, Phil Hughes come back) they can be a dominant team. If those things don't work out, things could go downhill in a hurry. We say it time and time again, some of the key players continue to get older and you just never know.
LLP: From what I have gathered is that the Yankee players were very upset about the way things ended in 2011 and want to make sure it doesn't happen again. I know that Sabathia and Tex have both worked harder this off-season, losing weight and are coming into the season in their best shape ever. A-Rod is always a workhorse, but I believe he is in for a stellar year because his determination is owed some success.
I have no doubt that the Yankees will win the AL East in 2012, and I look forward to them getting back to the World Series this season because everything is in place for that to happen.
My thanks to Gregg and Kate for giving us some insight on the Bronx Bombers. There's little doubt that they'll be contending again for the big prize.
The BBA has, as a secondary aim, the goal of producing year-end
awards in a similar fashion to the Baseball Writers of America. These
awards can be found at the official site in October with links back to the voters,
ensuring transparency and, most likely, the onset of some good baseball