Monday, November 16, 2009

Checking Back In With An Old Timer

What's up Fackers? It's been a while, so many have never seen one of my posts on this site and the rest have probably forgotten about me - if so, no hard feelings. I haven't written anything here in quite a long time but did lend some legal insights into this post back in May. Before that, I put together some reports on Austin Jackson early in the season and profiled several former Yankees for our countdown to Spring Training.

Well, let me introduce/re-introduce myself. My name is Joe and I am a soon-to-be attorney. I was absent the most part of this fackin' awesome season because I had to study for the New York State Bar Exam (congrats to all those who passed). Brilliant work by Jay and fellow BC Guy Matt in taking this blog from 5 readers to being attributed and acclaimed by respected baseball blogs like Shysterball, Big League Stew, River Ave. Blues and Walkoff Walk. As Jay takes a step back this offseason, I look forward to contributing more - mostly about the NFL and College Hoops. Of course, I will also provide my thoughts on the main focus of the blog, the World Champion New York Yankees.

One of my favorite posts that I did in previewing the season was detailing my talk with John, an Old Time Yanks fan, at the Albany Ancient Order of Hibernians pub. Well last Friday, I ran into John again, at the Albany AOH where he was donning his World Series Champions shirt and hat as well as a smile reminiscent of a father seeing his first born. Over a few pints of Guinness, he told me to cherish this Championship every second, because you never know when the next one is going to come. The 80 year old man also took some time to talk some trash to a few Sawx fans at the pub, which I'm sure most readers of Fack Youk can appreciate.

As one of my first posts back, I think it would be cool to rehash my first conversation with him and see how his observations look in hindsight:
Yankees Payroll: Despite being a humble, bingo-playing man, John had no qualms about the Yankees payroll. He cannot get over the fact that people start bitching about the recent signings of Teixeira, Sabathia and Burnett but fail to consider that their payroll will be less than last year. He is very pleased that the Hank/Hal tandem will continue to spend like their father. "Put the best team on the field," says the man. Many older generation fans have soured on baseball due to the ridiculous salaries of players, but John is such a dedicated fan that even at his advanced age he makes several bus trips from Albany to Yankee Stadium a year.
John was right on here. Once again, the day after the clinch, the sports radio circuit was bitching about the Yankees buying their 27th World Championship without acknowledging that the Yankees payroll decreased. Also, how about some acknowledgement for Cash signing the right guys in Teix, CC and AJ, guys who could handle the atmosphere of the Bronx and perform when it really matters, unlike those tall cranky lefties, guys who wear golden thongs, spar with concrete, smoke pot on airplanes and harass female flight attendants or wine aficionados with a nickname that begins with "Home Run"? Kudos to Hank and Hal for continuing the win at all costs strategy employed by their dad. Let's hope that the two brothers will be inspired by the events transpiring over the last glorious week and continue to do whatever it takes to please Yankees fans.
Yankees Prospects: Almost every other word out of the guy's mouth was "Jackson." Of course, he was talking about future perennial All-Star CF Austin "Action/AJax" Jackson. Knew everything about him. Cannot wait for the 5 tooler to start manning sports' most pristine real estate in 2010. If I remember correctly (don't hold me to this due to copious Guinness consumption), I think Mickey Mantle's name was even mentioned when discussing Jackson. I have no idea how he knows all of this considering I don't think he has a computer/internet access. He was also adverse to trading Ian Kennedy away.
As Matt previously stated, we didn't spend too much time on prospects this year. But, A-Jax was the International League's Rookie of the Year, finishing .300/.354/.405 with 24 SB, 4 HR, and 65 RBI. I was a bit disappointed in his power development and decrease in OBP, but think he did considering it was his first year in AAA. I would like to see him start out in Scranton and improve upon last year. Patience is the key for both Austin and Yankees fans. John appeared to be wrong, 2011 should be the year.

Dellin Betances had a much rougher year than Jackson. Before undergoing season ending Tommy John surgery in August, Betances had struggled with Double-A Trenton this season, going 2-5 with a 5.48 ERA in 11 starts. We have seen Tommy John surgery work wonders with some young pitchers, so let's see what it does with the 6'8" native New Yorker. Unfortunately, we will not find out until 2011. Get well soon, Dellin!

Another mammoth Yankees pitcher didn't have a good season either. Andrew Brackman, the 6'10" righthy from NC State who Scott Boras negotiated onto the 40-man roster after being signed out of college, had TJ surgery immediately after being picked 30th overall in the 2007 draft. The surgery caused Brackman to miss the 2007 and 2008 seasons. In 2009, the former basketball player ended his first season with 106 hits in 106.2 innings of work, 103K (8.69 K/9), walk rate of 6.41 BB/9, 5.91 ERA, and 1.71 WHIP for the A Charleston River Dogs. Brackman was much better after being placed in the bullpen in August and September but he needs obviously has a long way to go in terms of harnessing his stuff.

Jesus Montero, the 19-year old Venezuelan catcher/DH sensation had a great season down the farm, splitting 98 games between Charleston and AA Trenton. In 44 games with Trenton, Jesus hit .317/.370/.539 with 9 HR, 33 RBI. These states if extrapolated to 160 games are 30 home runs, 43 doubles, 200 hits, 121 RBIs, 80 strikeouts and 50 walks. While his offensive state improved vastly, his defensive stats declined all across the board. The good folks at Yankees Universe compared the youngster to Prince Fielder. A lot of teams should be inquiring about him this winter. If he tears up AAA next year and manages not to get traded, he should be a fixture in the Bronx beginning in 2011.
Current Outfield Situation: According to John, the CF job needs to be given to Brett Gardner. Melky needs to be released/traded due to his negative influence on Cano (who is expected to have a great comeback year). He would love to see Matsui moved but the full no-trade clause and high salary makes it virtually impossible. Nady or Swisher? Like me, he likes Nady more than Swisher but thinks Nady is a better trade option due to his salary. Likes Damon for LF.
Well, many of us at Fack Youk thought that Brett Gardner should have received the majority of the playing time and been the starting CF on the playoff roster. Looking at the season in review, the Gardy/Melky duo was very serviceable, each providing different qualities to the team. Interestingly, Melky matured greatly and came through with multiple walk off hits. Nady was obviously a non-factor, and luckily Matsui was still on the roster when the World Series rolled around.
Key to '09: The health of Posada.
I'm not sure that there was one "key" per se. Obviously the return and health of Posada was very important. Jorge's Wins Above Replacement this year was 4.0 compared to his 2009 value of 0.8. This increase wasn't even the highest on the team--that was shared by Cano (who went from .5 to 4.2) and Jeter, who many feared was entering his decline phase (3.7 to 7.4).

Although his WAR actually decreased for some reason, I thought that Andy Pettitte was one of the most important keys to the 2009 season. I actually didn't want Pettitte on the team due to the amount of money that he wanted and because of his putrid 2nd half of 2008. Well, this second half, he pitched to the tune of a 3.31 ERA, 6-3 record, and .226 BAA in 14 starts. His contributions were a major reason the Yanks fared so well from the All-Star break onward. Not to mention that he clinched the ALDS, ALCS and World Series. Will he retire on top or come back for #28?
Teixeira: The Yankees best signing in a long time. Thinks he will be at worst a Tino Martinez.
A very good comparison by John. Teixeira, in my opinion, was a better fielder than Tino this year. Not that it is an end-all, be-allm but Teix won a Gold Glove while Tino did not. How many images in your head do you have of Teix doing a split like a ballerina? Although he did not hit too particularly well in the postseason, his defense saved the team multiple times in October. Oh, I forgot, he also led the AL in RBI and HR, picking up the Silver Slugger award for AL 1B. Not too shabby. Jason who?


I hope that you enjoyed reading this revisitation. Not a bad prophesy from an old timer. I look forward to speaking with John again as the Hot Stove warms up. Let me know if you would like me to ask him something special.


  1. Great post.
    Tex has made the Yankee infield one of the best ever!
    He has made the group more confident and successful.
    Their defense/offense is a large part of the chemistry of championship #27.
    This is a major reason to be bullish on 2010 and beyond.

  2. Nice review and welcome back.

    I was curious, since you seem to have an interest in our developing players. How many Yankees (if any) were in the Arizona Fall League this year?

    All I have heard about are some of the high profile draftees (ie Strasburg, Ackley), and I know last year Hughes did well there.

    Thanks, and I must say this is one of my favorite Yankee blogs. Keep up the great work guys. It's harder to stay connected now that I live in Birdland Maryland...

  3. Josh - Ian Kennedy is in Arizona this year trying to get some innings after recovering from his aneurysm. The Yanks also send a couple of pitching prospects (SP Zach Kroneke and RPs Grant Duff, Mike Dunn) along with 3B Brandon Laird and OF Colin Curtis.

    River Ave. Blues does a great job keeping up with the prospects and typically publishes daily reports from the AZFL with their series Down on the Farm.