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Tuesday Triple Play: Yankees, Yankees, Yankees

1. I joked yesterday about the "death" of the Yankees' "youth movement," but I fully understand the logic behind the signing of Andy Pettitte. A great signing, without a doubt. After all, the Yankees now have, as their fifth starter, a guy who won 14 games in 2008 (and equally significant, a third fourth [thanks, Gmart68b] link, along with Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada, to the championship years). And they got him at a bargain price, even if he hits all his incentives.

You always want to start the season with seven or more MLB-ready starting pitchers, because of the likelihood of injuries, even if a couple of them are stashed at Triple-A. As for Phil Hughes, for whom the Yankees still have high hopes, in a worst-case scenario he begins the year in Triple-A (as he probably should have in 2008), and in a best-case scenario -- given the statistically significant possibility of one of the Yankees' top five starters being shelved at the start of the season -- he's in the Opening Day rotation.

2. Are you prepared to call the Yankees the best team in baseball, as we sit here on January 27? I think I am. Yes, they have issues. Their lineup is old. The left side of their infield has no range. Robinson Cano is a question mark. Jorge Posada may no longer be good for 120 games behind the plate. But let's make this simple: They took a team that won 89 games last year, and added CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher and Andy Pettitte.

And anyway, who's better? I don't see the Rays being able to repeat their charmed season of 2008, in which their pitchers stayed remarkably healthy and everyone seemed to have career-years all at once. The Red Sox improved themselves in some smart, subtle ways, but they haven't filled their biggest need -- a big bopper to take some of the heat off David Ortiz. The Angels? Are they participating in this offseason, or did they decide to sit this one out?

3. Yeah, that's really going to happen.

By Dave Sheinin  |  January 27, 2009; 9:45 AM ET
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Wouldn't Pettitte be the Fourth link? I think you forgot Mariano Rivera in the equation.

Posted by: gmart68b | January 27, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Now that I think about it... Isn't Joe Girardi technically a link, too? Granted, his role has changed.

Posted by: gmart68b | January 27, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Who cares? They'll still be out of the playoffs in the divisional round.

Posted by: virtueandvice | January 27, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

You mentioned all the pluses and none of the minuses.

Giambi, for all his flaws, was a fine offensive player last year, slugging .500 and having an OPS+ of 128 in 500 at bats. Taking his bat away and replacing it with Teixeira's is certainly an upgrade, but not a huge one.

Bobby Abreu was just about as good. He scored 100 runs and knocked in 100, and it's not clear to me that ANYone has replaced him.

Jeter, Posada, Matsui, and Damon are all over 34 and clearly in decline. The Yankees could have a BAD outfield, offensively and defensively.

Mariano Rivera is 38.

Mike Mussina was terrific last year (much to my shock) and is, I believe, roughly equivalent to CC Sabathia.

What did the Rays add? Um, did you watch the ALCS? (a) They're all under 26 years old and it's not luck when young players get better or old players get worse and, HELLO: (b) David Price, David Price, David Price.

Oh, and they added Matt Joyce and Bobby Abreu, upgrading their two biggest weaknesses.

Posted by: rovner | January 27, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Rovner, you got it right except I don't think the Rays added Abreu, but Burrell. The Yankees will be better because their starting rotation was a problem last season and will be much better. But they still have too many aging players. I would rather be one of the Rays looking at everyone saying the Yankees have bought another WS. What more motivation can you give to young, talented athletes than saying they cannot do it again. Wasn't there another Florida team that made that their motivation? Joakim Noah sound familiar?

Posted by: Juliasdad | January 27, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and of course Pettitte isn't an addition from last year. If Posada can catch more than half the games, then that's an upgrade.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | January 27, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Jeter is the worst defensive shortstop in the game (proven last fall by some stat nerds from MIT) and you forgot to mention the Yankees one glaring weakness at the top: Joe Girardi. They're the same team as last year or the year before, with interchangeable pieces added/subtracted during the offseason.

Posted by: 1buj | January 28, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

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