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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Looking back: What worked and didn’t work

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Dec 31, 2012 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

The time for discussing team MVP and team Cy Young passed months ago. There’s little sense bringing up the obvious postseason disappointment and injury frustration. At this point, it seems more important to look back at what worked and what didn’t work; what had an impact and what fell flat.  

Best move
January 13 has been etched in our memories because of the Michael Pineda trade, but it was also the day Hiroki Kuroda signed his one-year deal. He wound up pitching more innings than ever in his career, and for a significant stretch of the season he pitched like a Cy Young candidate. This was a season when CC Sabathia went on the disabled list twice, Andy Pettitte missed a ton of time with his ankle injury, and Ivan Nova took a significant step back. The rotation needed someone to lead it, and Kuroda did just that. Last winter was fairly quiet except for one day, and that one day did have a significant silver lining.
Worth mentioning: Sticking with Raul Ibanez; giving David Phelps a chance; trading for Ichiro Suzuki; dumping A.J. Burnett.

Worst move
It’s too easy to chose the Pineda trade. Truth is, the Yankees rotation isn’t the reason they were knocked out of the postseason, and Jesus Montero didn’t do enough this season to suggest he would have made a difference. Long-term, that deal looks bad, but for this season it wasn’t crushing. What hurt the Yankees in the end was making Casey McGehee and Steve Pearce their big power-bat additions. Alex Rodriguez was a shell of his former self, Mark Teixeira was hurt late in the year and Curtis Granderson had a bad second half. Ichiro helped, and Ibanez came up big, but the offense disappeared at the worst possible time.
Worth mentioning: Giving up Justin Maxwell; sticking with Andruw Jones; not trading Dellin Betances when his value was high.  

Greatest surprise
Frankly, there were a lot of pleasant surprises on this team. The Yankees found some minor league free agents and signed some cheap big league deals that had a real impact, but the surprise that kept giving and made the greatest difference was the return of Derek Jeter as a superstar. Hard to call a Hall of Famer a big surprise, but Jeter had been dismissed for a year and a half before showing signs of getting back on track late in 2011. This season was his return to the game’s elite, legitimately one of the best leadoff hitters in the league. And he just kept doing it until his ankle wouldn’t let him do it any more.
Worth mentioning: Ichiro Suzuki’s final month; Eric Chavez’s steady production; the arrival of David Phelps; the emergence of Tyler Austin.

Greatest disappointment
Maybe this is where Michael Pineda truly fits. There was so much expectation considering the cost and the potential, and to have Pineda go down without throwing a single meaningful pitch created immediate disappointment and long-term concern. He might never be the pitcher the Yankees expected. In a year full of long-term injuries – Joba Chamberlain, Brett Gardner, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira —  the Pineda injury wasn’t necessarily the most crushing blow, but it was the most disappointing because of all the factors attached: The trade, the loss of Montero and the promise of strong arm wiped out by a faulty shoulder.
Worth mentioning: Brett Gardner’s many setbacks; Russell Martin’s batting average; Ivan Nova’s season; Robinson Cano’s postseason.

Bigger impact than expected
The best answer here is probably Rafael Soriano, but we’ll get to that in just a moment. In their own ways, guys like Hiroki Kuroda, Derek Jeter and Phil Hughes also made an impact beyond expectation, but those guys were each expected to play a significant role to begin with. The one who stands out as clearly exceeding expectation is Eric Chavez, if only because he opened the season with no role whatsoever. Eduardo Nunez was supposed to get regular at-bats against lefties, and Chavez was supposed to be a qualify left-handed bat off the bench. Instead, the Yankees needed someone to get regular at-bats as a designated hitter and third baseman, and Chavez stayed healthy enough to deliver a standout season as a regular platoon player that the Yankees truly needed.
Worth mentioning: Raul Ibanez down the stretch; Jayson Nix on a minor league deal; Cody Eppley and Clay Rapada in very specific and occasionally crucial situations. 

Smaller impact than expected
Do you remember the sense around the team when Mariano Rivera crashed to the warning track? At the time, the Yankees were barely a .500 club, and losing the game’s greatest closer — in the season that many believed would be his last — seemed too much. It was hard to imagine a bigger blow. But the Yankees had Rafael Soriano, and frankly, the Yankees bullpen remained a strength even without Rivera (and for about a month, without either Rivera or Dave Robertson). Can’t understate the brilliance of Rivera, but the Yankees were actually able to move on without him.
Worth mentioning: Eduardo Nunez failing in the field; Russell Martin’s batting average; Freddy Garcia’s step backward 

Risk that paid off
Sometimes the risk comes from doing nothing, and last season the Yankees took a risk when they let Phil Hughes work through his early struggles. He was coming off a lost year and had a 5.64 ERA at the end of May. The Yankees yanked Freddy Garcia from the rotation early enough that he didn’t do much harm, but they let Hughes keep going, and he delivered with a 3.70 ERA in his final 22 starts. He found a new slider/cutter hybrid that was effective, and he showed improved comfort with his changeup. Hughes and Hiroki Kuroda were the only Yankees to make at least 30 starts, and that only happened because the Yankees let Hughes work through some early trouble.
Worth mentioning: Trading for Ichiro Suzuki; getting Andy Pettitte out of retirement; being aggressive with Tyler Austin and Chase Whitley

Patience that didn’t pay off
Andruw Jones kept getting at-bats. There’s not much more to say about the situation. The Yankees needed a right-handed outfielder, Jones was the guy chosen for the job, and despite his constant struggles, his role never changed until the very, very, very end of the season. He finished with a .197 batting average, and more than a quarter of his home runs came during one three-game series in Boston.
Worth mentioning: Alex Rodriguez in the middle of the order; waiting for Joba Chamberlain as an immediate bullpen boost; the early medical diagnosis of Manny Banuelos

Associated Press photos

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40 Responses to “Looking back: What worked and didn’t work”

  1. Hassey December 31st, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Happy New Year, guys…don’t forget to drop off your rent checks to Chad on your way out tonite

  2. trisha - true pinstriped blue December 31st, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    repost:

    If the Yankees trotted out nothing but players from their A system, I’d be a Yankee fan through and through! I LOVE MY YANKEES!!!! My doctor once worried when they were taking blood and the blood was pinstriped. I told him I wouldn’t have it any other way. Ever. :)

    ***************

    Thoughts to consider for the new year:

    1. When you are tempted to complain about anything, remember that there are 20 families in Sandy Hook that would gladly trade their problems for yours! (idea borrowed from Brian Lee Kennedy)

    2. Spread sunshine rather than gloom. People actually like you better when you do that. :)

    3. Count your blessings. You’re probably better off than most of the rest of the world. If you have a roof over your head and food to eat, then there’s no question that you are!

    4. Be a giver rather than a taker.

    If you can do most of these things most of the time, you will have helped to make the world a better place.

    ***********************

    YANKEES IN 2013!!!!!

  3. tomingeorgia December 31st, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    trisha,
    Happy New Year to you! While I might not be as saintly as you are, I share your sentiments and optimism. The Yanks will be fine, and even without knowing what the lineup will be, put me in for 94 wins in next year’s contest. Pitching is good, the old farts will either persevere or rebound, and one or two kids will emerge. Yankees in 2013!

  4. Rich in NJ December 31st, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    The Montero trade was never only about Montero and Pineda, in and of themselves, it was about an apparently low prioritization of the need for a young, impact bat by people who make these decisions (Cashman, Levine, and/or Hal).

    So whether or not they thought that Montero was ever a fit here, or whether or not they thought he could be an impact bat, he was their most valuable chip that may have helped secure one, if not in 2012, then perhaps in 2013.

    That is an unfortunate failure that could impact the franchise for several years, or at least until they develop or acquire one or two, not to mention that they may lose one in Cano, since they have put themselves in the untenable position of either overpaying him, perhaps ridiculously so, or losing him for a mere draft pick.

    Anyway, we’re just powerless fans, so all we can do is complain, which some Yankee fans find objectionable, which is sort of funny, but whatever.

    Happy New Year to everyone, no matter what your point of view.

  5. Chad Jennings December 31st, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    The Return of Stoneburner December 31st, 2012 at 1:21 pm e
    Chad Jennings December 31st, 2012 at 1:11 pm
    The Return of Stoneburner December 31st, 2012 at 12:45 pm e
    I mean does Brian Matusz get the O’s Michael Morse??

    I read that and thought the exact same thing. I’m not super high on Morse, but for Matusz or any lefty reliever?

    *****

    What have you seen of Morse to make you lukewarm? I know some have said his defense is less than desirable – I have not seen him play that much – but his RHP/LHP split of about .290 both ways sure sounds nice – – – -

    Great job with the blog – – – -

    ——

    Sorry, just saw this from the last post.

    The only reason I’m not super high on Morse is the lack of a lengthy track record. It’s two seasons really, and 2012 wasn’t nearly as good as 2011. I think he’d be a great fit for the Yankees, and I think he’s a good player. When I said I’m not super high on him I just meant that I’m hesitant to look at those numbers and think I’m seeing a star who’s worth giving up huge prospects to acquire. That said, I think he’s worth more than Matusz or any other left-handed reliever.

  6. ron December 31st, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    I just wan’t no part of looking at the game of baseball the way rany describes it,even though he is porobably right about players not caring about fans.
    I’ve enjoyed baseball just fine all this time,and don’t wan’t top look at it in that way,and i won’t.

    It would prevent me from ever being able to celebrate the joy that i have when the yankees do win.
    Thank gooness i am not an angry ex player.
    Do i agree with the direction the yankees are going?
    No,but who knows?

    Trading a player is not going to make me talk about the only mlb i have ever loved for 35 years with disgust,and i am thankfull for that.
    We have watched the rs crumble,the rangers,with a great team,great prospects not win the ws,the tigers,angels,all fail to win,but we watched the giants,and cardinals win 2 out of the last 3 ws,and we sit here critisizing the yankees with a 200 million dollar payroll,and a rotation of cc,kuroda,pettitte,hughes,nova,phelps,pineda,along with gardner,tex,arod,cano,jeter,youk,granderson,and we think they can’t win a ws?

    Baseball can’t be predicted.
    Every time somebody tries,they miserably fail.

    Imo,you have to have a good farm system.
    That keeps payroll managable,and builds a core,even if that core is only 3 players that are good enough.
    There might be gaps,but a new yankee core will come,they always do.

  7. randy l. December 31st, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    “Sometimes the risk comes from doing nothing, and last season the Yankees took a risk when they let Phil Hughes work through his early struggles. He was coming off a lost year and had a 5.64 ERA at the end of May.”

    i have never understood the yankees not signing hughes to an extension when he was really bad.
    i had a hunch hughes woud have a good season, and i was rooting for him to have that good season.
    however, what were the yankees thinking in not extending him at that point.

    that was their one and only chance to keep him with free agency coming up in 2014.
    of course maybe they are counting on him really sucking this year.

    i just don’t get the logic with players like hughes.
    you either believe in them or you don’t.
    the yankees end up by default making a decision because they make no decision.

    at this point, if hughes is good , he’s gone.
    surely that wasn’t the development plan for hughes by the yankees.
    they make no sense.

  8. Against All Odds December 31st, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Rich nice to see you around. Happy New Yr to you and your family.

  9. randy l. December 31st, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    happy new year rich in nj

    nice to see you posting.

  10. BIG AL December 31st, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    MLB players, making huge salaries, travel in different social circles, thus they tend not to hang out with their fans, unless those fans travel in the same social circles.

    That in and of itself does not mean players do not care about the fans they play for, dispite some comments on this blog to the contrary.

    Yes, there are some people in all walks of life that consider themselves above the rest of us, which may simply be human nature.

    I’ve met, talked with, and yes became very friendly with MLB players, and they are no different than most of us, just more talented at what they do, and when they do it better than most, become rather wealthy. In conversations, they seem to care about the fans they play for, but, human nature being what it is, you will always find the self consumed narcissistic type that believes the world revolves around them. I’m sure this is true in most walks of life, not just professional baseball.

  11. randy l. December 31st, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    “I just wan’t no part of looking at the game of baseball the way rany describes it”

    ron-

    you might be missing what i’m saying.

    i’m really saying baseball is a game.

    making a game be more than a game is kind of an irrational leap .

    i’m saying being a fan is kind of a entertainment kind of thing. it’s not life or death or that important in the larger scheme of things. there’s nothing about the game that’s as important as real life and death things.

    that said, we suspend belief and get into it. that’s part of what makes it fun. like a good movie that’s based on something silly like time travel or vampires. once you buy in you can have some fun with the entertainment.

    i’m saying the yankees right now are not really being that entertaining and are starting to make fans question why they are indeed fans of them.

    seriously, what about hal right now makes you think about being entertained?

    i think he’s just thinking there are a lot of dumb ass fans who will support the yankees no matter how little he spends to improve them.

    why play into his game and enabling it ?

    why not force hal to make the yankees the entertainment they are supposed to be?
    withhold your fandom .

    mess with hal

    there’s more than one way to have fun :)

  12. ron December 31st, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Hughes should of been extended.
    The yankees are way to conservative,esp with the new cba reality.

    When trading a montero,you have to bring back a stud 3b prospect that is going to lockdown that position for 10 years.
    A pitcher like pineda is way to risky,unless he had a great changeup,and no injury red flags.
    Both not being the case.
    Cano is another disaster contract waiting to happen,and i love cano.
    Not because he won’t be great for another 5 years,it’s because he won’t be great for the entire contract,and it is so hard for any player to be worth 25 million,in any year.
    The yankees got the best years out of cano.
    Time to move on.

    It is next to impossible for the yankees to trade a great homegrown player,and making the team worse because of it,at least in the shorterm,unless the offense was replaced with free agents.
    Signing him to an 8/200 deal is still a bad idea.
    It just consumes too many resources.
    I think we are a much better team with a 20 hr/80 rbi/.270 ba/.770 ops 2b,and a great 3b + pitching prospect that cano can easily get us,instead of cano alone,and money to spend in addition.

  13. tomingeorgia December 31st, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Go, Yellow Jackets.

  14. randy l. December 31st, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    “Hughes should of been extended.
    The yankees are way to conservative,esp with the new cba reality.”

    ron-

    that’s what i mean by taking chance.

    the old yankee rule of not extending players might have worked worked when they could throw extra millions or years at the last moment to sign a player like bernie or posada, but those days are gone.

    how could the yankees not have signed cano a few years ago or hughes at one of his down times?
    sure they aren’t going to know how the bet would turn out, but how do they win when they let a cano or hughes walk?

    the yankees don’t appear confident in their ability to make judgements or calculated risks about their young star players. they don’t seem to be able to pull the trigger.

  15. ron December 31st, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Randi:

    I liked george way more than hal.

    That passion he had will never be seen again.

    But i just can’t enjoy baseball any other way,and i am not ignorant to anything that might be going on behind hals closed doors.

    I just hope they have a plan,and i don’t think any of us know if they do,or what it is.
    They do have a decent farm system,and if a few pitchers can jump onto the prospect watch list,i don’t think all is lost.
    They also are going to collect 6,or so additional picks if they lose granderson,cano,hughes,combined with the 3 qo picks from this year.

    If i’m not mistaken,the yankees are the only team that made qo’s too players.

    I would of wen’t a different route by trading granderson,cano,hughes,and gotten a top 3b,ss,p,2b prospect that are just about ready with good AA,or AAA numbers.

    Then signed some fa to replace some of the offense.

    We don’t need to replace all of it either.
    I’d target good ba hitters,contact hitters,good d,and not be as concerned with hr.
    Remember the 90′s teams?

    A great pitching staff,debth,bench,and just 15-20 hr hitters that hit .280,or so.
    We’d have a better team,and it wouldn’t cost as much.

    Hr hitters cost way more money.

  16. ron December 31st, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    I think the yankees are content with clearing the big contracts,collecting picks,hoping our own prospects pan out,then spending when the smoke is clear.

  17. tomingeorgia December 31st, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Watch the collage at riveravenueblues.com to cheer you up for the holiday season. Too many? Never enough!

  18. randy l. December 31st, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    “I think the yankees are content with clearing the big contracts,collecting picks,hoping our own prospects pan out,then spending when the smoke is clear.”

    ron-

    did i miss something?
    jeffrey laurie buy the yankees? :)

  19. tomingeorgia December 31st, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    riveraveblues.com

  20. tomingeorgia December 31st, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Go to RAB, dammit. Can’t get the link right.

  21. randy l. December 31st, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    http://riveraveblues.com

    old guys should have macs :)

  22. The Return of Stoneburner December 31st, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Counting arbitration raises and the $13MM they have tentatively agreed to pay Mike Napoli, the Red Sox 2013 payroll will almost exactly match the club’s 2012 payroll, writes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.

    Read more at http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/#Abo7HRJReQKlvf7Z.99

    *****

    So they already spent all of that savings – - – -

  23. tomingeorgia December 31st, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Randy,
    I could have done it with UNIX!

  24. MTU December 31st, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Happy New Year’s All.

    Stay safe.

    Peace, health, and hapiness in the year ahead.

    :)

  25. randy l. December 31st, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    tomingeorgia-

    i am obviously not a techie, but i think the mac browser safari is unix based.

    but you don’t need that.

    there’s menus for copy and paste.

    even pat m could do it :)

  26. trisha - true pinstriped blue December 31st, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    tom, you have the first official prediction for the 2013 season. I have you down for 94 wins!

    :)

    Not happy that the Sux picked up Bobby Abreu.

    Am impressed as all get out at what the Jays have done in the off season. Absolute awesomeness.

    I’m with you, tom, in believing the Yankees will be fine for next season. I have great faith in their Yankeedom. :)

    Be safe tonight, all. Despite the turning of a number, it’s just another night. No need to get so blotto that you forget your name!

  27. tomingeorgia December 31st, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Mister MTU,
    And the same to you, sir.

  28. mick December 31st, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Have a safe and happy New Year to all real and unreal Yankee fans!

  29. tomingeorgia December 31st, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    randy
    pat m will have the pool girls do it for him.

  30. The Return of Stoneburner December 31st, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Happy New Year 2013 – the year of #28 – - – -

  31. The Return of Stoneburner December 31st, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    It was on this day 40 years ago that the baseball world lost one of its greatest stars. Following a massive earthquake that devastated the country of Nicaragua, Roberto Clemente helped organize a relief effort for victims of the disaster and accompanied one of the aid packages on its flight on New Year’s Eve 1972 to ensure that the goods reached the proper hands. Tragically, Clemente’s flight crashed off the shore of Puerto Rico, costing the Pirates superstar his life at the age of 38. Clemente was posthumously honored with the Presidential Citizens Medal and a Congressional Gold Medal by then-president Richard Nixon and the U.S. Congress, and given immediate entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame, as the BBWAA waived its usual five-year waiting period.

    Read more at http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/#biGlDJHM2DCd1kTj.99

  32. tomingeorgia December 31st, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    I’m not going anywhere tonight, particularly with the sheriff setting up a DUI checkpoint right outside my driveway. Even if I didn’t drink, the line of those who have will hold me up for twenty minutes, at least.

    Anybody remember the Tams, a beach music group from the 60s? I think their biggest hit was “Be Young, Be beautiful, be Happy!”. They’re playing here tonight in East Nowhere, GA, across the way, and we have some guests who are going to it. Big times! Happy New Year to all!

  33. mick December 31st, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    The Tams:

    This song is dedicated to Randy.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oycKx6xmHOs

  34. tomingeorgia December 31st, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Mister mick,
    How did I forget that one!

  35. Doreen December 31st, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    First, Chad, thank you for two consecutive excellent posts, and a vote of appreciation for your efforts during the year.

    Second, everyone please have a Happy and Healthy New Year. On a personal note, I certainly hope 2013 is a better year than 2012.

    Third, and totally out there, when I first got my Mac and was having some issues, Randy L gave me a hint – just google your problem and there’s always an answer, and I have found that to be true in most cases! Thanks, Randy L. (BTW, Randy L – would it be okay for me to email you to find out when the best time to visit the Cape next summer would be?)

    Fourth, I cannot believe how long it’s been that this blog has been a part of our lives, for good or ill. Six years for me (even when I didn’t post, I certainly followed along quite a bit). So much has happened – both with the Yankees and to each of us as private people. Whether we agree or disagree on the all the details, may this coming Yankees season bring a source of contentment (however you personally measure that).

    Stoneburner – was it 40 years ago??? Wow. I remember it as if it was just a few years ago. Devastating.

    And I am glad there is no Friday, January 13th in 2013….

  36. Doreen December 31st, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    What, wait! Trisha, Abreu is on the Red Sox??

    I don’t think it’ll make any difference, but there’s something about ex-Yankees going to Boston that irks me somehow, no matter how silly. Oh, well.

  37. mick December 31st, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    What happened to this kind of music?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coh7n6dYj5Y

  38. randy l. December 31st, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    doreen-
    the best time to visit cape cod if you don’t have kids is in september because the ocean temp is at it’s
    highest from being warmed up all summer, all the restaurants, shops , and galleries are open, and the weather is mid seventies and sunny most of the month.

    if you come , let me know . i’ll steer you in the right direction.
    you’l definitely have to see some cape league games. you’d enjoy the nostalgia of old fashioned baseball, and still see someone who will make an mlb all star game.

  39. randy l. December 31st, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    mick
    this one might be better
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2FT4FprxDg

  40. UnKnown December 31st, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Doreen, Boston is just working out Abreu right now. He is not officially on the team. Be careful what source you get your info from. Some tend to always not know what they are talking about.

    Enjoy the night people.

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