As Joel Sherman points out Wednesday, the semi-surprising Yankees are actually co-favorites (at least) to win the American League East. I mean, you’d take the field against them. But there’s not another single team that stands out.
The Yankees are far, far from perfect, though. Sherman’s three big questions about them:
1. Should they stick with Sabathia in the rotation?
2. Should they give up on Carlos Beltrán?
3. Should they go hard after Ben Zobrist?
Taking those in reverse order…
Zobrist’s a good player, but a) he’s not that good, and b) anyway, a bunch of other teams will be looking at him, seriously. So, you know, whatever.
Gotta say, I didn’t realize quote how poorly Beltrán’s played. With Alex Rodriguez back in the fold, Beltrán can’t DH and this once-great outfielder is now a serious liability out there, maybe the worst right fielder in the majors.
Which wouldn’t be so terrible if Beltrán were hitting, which he’s not. And after (now) 711 plate appearances in pinstipes, there’s no reason to think he ever will hit again. It’s sorta inexplicable, considering how well he hit as a Cardinal just two seasons ago. But it seems he’s done at the plate and he shouldn’t be playing afield.
As for Sabathia, the story’s largely the same. While it’s true that Sabathia’s xFIP is significantly lower than his ERA, Jeff Zimmerman has demonstrated that as a pitcher’s speed drops, his xFIP becomes less predictive/relevant, because he will give up higher rates of home runs per fly ball. And while Sabathia’s throwing the same pitches as before, he’s throwing two miles an hour slower.
Sabathia does still have a fine strikeout-to-walk ratio, which means he should be able to string together five or six good innings together from time to time. It just hasn’t happened nearly often enough this season.
Meanwhile, the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect has been quite good since his promotion to Triple-A a few weeks ago.
But would the Yankees have the guts to demote Sabathia to the bullpen, considering the SIXTY-TWO MILLION they still owe him? And what about the TWENTY-EIGHT MILLION they still owe Beltrán?
I know I hammer on this all the time, but this is the hidden cost of mega-contracts. When they go south, you’re out the money and, too often, also the wins because you’re unwilling to cut your losses.
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