Beating Vegas: The New York Yankees
Image courtesy of Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsYear In Review
Like the fall of most empires, it wasn't a huge implosion, but a series of ever-widening cracks that led to deterioration. Vegas watched the Yankees offseason spending spree and set a number in the mid to high 80s to meet, but a lot of the big signings came up short. Biggest among them was (and continues to be) ace pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. Tananka dominated to the tune of a 2.77 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning, but there were too few of those innings - just 136 - because he was limited to 20 starts with a sore elbow. Worse, he still has pain that he's just (effectively) pitching through. So there is no guarantee that he'll be healthy for the duration of this year.
Tanaka's status mirrored that of a lot of the team. The new slimmer CC Sabathia was limited to only eight starts, big free agent signee Carlos Beltran played in only 109 games, Mark Teixeira struggled with a wrist injury and of course A-Rod was suspended. The Yankees are counting on bounceback seasons from these guys, and if they stay healthy, the could get it, but here are their respective ages as of July 1: 34, 38, 35, 39. Their expected health is debatable.
Add that all up, and the Yankees still finished over .500 with 84 wins, which is an accomplishment given that they were outscored on the year.
With those results amid all their injuries, it may not be surprising that the Yankees had a pretty quiet offseason. They replaced free agent closer David Robertson by signing setup stud Andrew Miller, but other than that, the Yankees treated this offseason like a do-over. They let Hiroki Kuroda walk. He was their most durable and effective starting pitcher. The other two big departures are probably more about losing big names than impact players, but they're still losses: Ichiro Suzuki and Derek Jeter.
“There are enough Yankees bobos betting money in New York that the number has to be higher than they deserve, and maybe they'll get lucky and keep people healthy. Still, I'm lowering last year's 86.5 line.” = 81.5.
I try not to bet on the Yankees for the same reason I try not to bet on the Twins; wishful thinking gets in the way. But if I had to bet, I'd bet the under. Practically, their run differential is more like a 77 win team than the 84 wins they tallied last year, and there is a lot more room for downside than upside given the age of this team. And karmically, it feels a lot like a franchise that just lost its identity, is floating through purgatory and is a lot closer to hell than heaven. .
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