In a new series from Lasorda’s Lair, we cross examine the talent and production of the rest of Major League Baseball starting with the American League East moving West and then the National League East moving West. The premise of this exercise is simple. While I suppose that the Dodgers are the best team in baseball simply because they have the highest payroll, it’s easy to forget that the highest payroll doesn’t always necessarily generate a championship team.
The first team we look at is the New York Yankees. While I can’t conclude that the Yankees will be a bad team, I doubt they make the playoffs this year. Multiple injuries, aging veterans, minimal depth, and improving competition will sink the Yanks almost before the season starts. Even if they win 80 games, that still will only be just enough for … dead last in the AL East. Thanks for playing. Lets look at why.
Alex Rodriguez is set to miss the majority of the season. Which doesn’t really matter. A-Rod hasn’t played more than 140 games since 2007. In his stead steps Kevin Youkilis. He of declining power, declining defense, and declining value has his own health problems. Derek Jeter isn’t set to “return” until mid-March. The 38 (!) year old still may not be able to totally return to his previous form even if he is healthy. Curtis Granderson is set to miss 3 months after his wrist was fractured from a J.A. Happ fastball is his first at bat this spring.
February 24, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson (14) reacts after he was hit in the fore arm by a pitch during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Yankees are OLD! They didn’t add to their youth through free agency or trades. While the Dodgers are older, three of those players (Lilly at 36, Capuano at 34, and Harang at 34) may not be on the roster to affect the actual age of the team once the season starts. Eventually, the Dodgers will get younger while the Yankees are stuck with their old broken veterans.
The Yankees have one player projected to get more than 600 plate appearances. Robinson Cano. Please tell me that Juan Rivera will be taking at bats from Brett Gardner! Or when Kevin Youkilis pulls a hammy and is out for 3 weeks, Casey McGehee will be manning third base. I guess there could be worse options (another Juan comes to mind).
The rest of the AL East (excluding the Red Sox) has vastly improved. The Blue Jays have made obvious improvements as I picked them to win the division. The Rays will take the wild card and the Orioles will just miss out on the playoffs.
Feb 28, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) stretches before a spring training game against the New York Yankees at George Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
For these reasons, the Yankees are not better than the Dodgers.