Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Yankees Panic Unfounded
Christmas has taken a back seat to Yankee-related panic, following yesterday's announcement that they signed slugger without a known personality Mark Texeira for a zillion dollars over eight years. They had previously signed two pitchers that many considered the cream of the free agent crop -- C.C. Sabathia and A. J. Burnett.

According to some, this means that the Yankess will win the World Series each year for the forseeable future.

I don't think so. Let's go back to the off-season prior to 2005. It was a magical time. The Yankees emptied their wallets to sign Randy Johnson, who was getting old, but had just completed a season where he pitched 245 innings to the tune of a 2.60 ERA. That's nice. They also signed young Carl Pavano, who had just completed his break-out year.

Randy Johnson had pretty decent seasons in 2005 and 2006, pitching over 200 innings and winning 17 games in each. He got pounded in the play-offs, although not to the extent that Sabathia has in recent years. Pavano, as everyone knows, had a lot of girlfriend-related issues and was a huge bust, only pitching 145 innings for the Yankees.

So I'm comparing the current situation to 2005, when it also appears as if the Yankees signed the two best free agent pitchers in baseball. It's different now, though, because of Mark Teixera. In 2005, though, the Yankees had their own Mark Teixera, his name was Jason Giambi and they committed themselves to paying him millions and millions of dollars before 2002. Giambi played well back then. You would think that the Yankees were pretty well set going into 2005. Yet they haven't won a play-off series since then.

It's possible that Sabathia, Burnett and Teixera give the Yankees what they need to reestablish their dominance. It's also possible that Sabathia starts hanging out at clubs with the Giants, that Burnett never again has a season as good as last year, and that Teixera does the same workmanlike job that he did while not leading the Rangers, Braves or Angels to post-season victories. And it's a certainty that Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera will show diminished skills and a more likelihood of injury as they continue to age, and that Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera will show that they're not too good. So don't panic.

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