Yankees Hot Tub Time Machine

It just gets better and better with the New York Yankees. They just signed Brian Roberts.

I wrote before (in my Ichiro Suzuki essay for the 100 greatest players) that this Yankees team would look awfully good … in 2006. But by essentially replacing Robinson Cano with Brian Roberts, they have — in a weird way — gotten even older. Roberts best year was probably 2005, which you will note is actually BEFORE 2006.

Here is the Yankees starting lineup … and what was probably each player’s best season:

C: Brian McCann (2006 with Atlanta): .333/.388/.572, 24 homers, 93 RBis.

1B: Mark Teixeira (2005 with Texas): .301/.379/.575, 43 homers, 144 RBIs, 112 runs, Gold Glove.

2B: Brian Roberts (2006 with Baltimore): .314/.387/.515, 45 doubles, 18 homers, 27 steals, 92 runs.

SS: Derek Jeter (1999 with Yankees): .349/.438/.552 with 24 homers, 102 RBIs, 134 runs, 219 hits.

3B: Alex Rodriguez: (2007 with Yankees): .314/.422/.645, 54 homers, 156 RBIs, 143 runs, 24 steals.

LF: Alfonso Soriano (2002 with Yankees): .300/.332/.547, 39 homers, 41 steals, 102 RBIs, 128 runs.

CF: Jacoby Ellsbury (2011 with Boston): .321/.376/.552, 32 homers, 105 RBis, 119 runs, 39 steals, Gold Glove.

RF: Ichiro Suzuki (2004 with Seattle): .372/.414/.455 with 262 hits, 101 runs, 36 steals, Gold Glove.

DH: Carlos Beltran 2006 with Mets): : ..275/.388/.594, 41 homers, 116 RBIs, 127 runs 18 steals, Gold Glove.

In case you’re wondering, that averages out to the year 2005. This team would have peaked in 2005, even if Ellsbury was playing for Lowell of the New York Penn League at the time.

And, don’t forget, this team still has Vernon Wells (best year probably 2003 — .317 with league leading 49 doubles, 215 hits and 373 total bases) and Brett Gardner (best year a more recent 2010 — .383 OBP, 97 runs).

Oh, if only the Yankees had a Hot Tub Time Machine — or the phone booth from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure — they could put together one of the greatest teams in baseball history. Heck, let’s say it, if they could have all nine of those players, in their prime, that would be the greatest team ever. You have (by performance) three SURE Hall of Famers (A-Rod, Jeter, Ichiro), a possible Hall of Famer (Beltran) and four All-Star superstars.

Instead, Tex is old and played just 15 games last year, Jeter is old and played in 17 games, A-Rod is old and with a pending suspension that would last more than a year, Ichiro is old and has not even managed a .300 average since 2010, Roberts is old and is hitting .231/.289/.344 the last three seasons. Soriano and Beltran are old too, though they still had something left last year. Even McCann and Ellsbury, who are like One Direction compared to this gang of Rolling Stones, will be 30 on Opening Day.

Michael Schur and I argue about the Yankees all the time. I believe this team is about to become an all-time fiasco … something that has been building for a few years now with these gigantic and back-loaded contracts that, sooner or later, come due. I look at this creaky team — and the fact the Yankees had to pay a huge luxury tax just to put it together — and see doom.

He does not. He believes that there is some sort of evil empire nectar that they give players when they arrive so that as bad as the Yankees may LOOK to outsiders, they will always find a way to win. Always. Ichiro will suddenly hit .350 again. Roberts will become a .300 hitter, Tex will win the Triple Crown. Whatever miracles have to happen, Michael believes, will happen. He has his points. Even last year, when just about every single thing that could go wrong for the Yankees did, the Yankees still won 85 games and were mild postseason contenders into September.

I guess we’ll find out. I don’t know, to me this team looks like one of those Steinbrenner specials when the aging corpses of Jesse Barfield and Claudell Washington and Jose Cruz and Steve Kemp and Mike Easler and Steve Sax and Andy Hawkins and Scott Sanderson and Pascual Perez were clanging around. But, hey, you know, some of those teams did win a bit. And when you put together a team of players who were, at least at one time, great players …

… you can’t tell me the Yankees aren’t looking into buying one of those hot tubs on Ebay.

29 thoughts on “Yankees Hot Tub Time Machine

  1. The Dangerous Mabry

    I’m not sure that “year of best season” is a great metric to indicate an aging team. “Most recent strong season” is probably a better indicator of viability. Otherwise, you’d look at a team like last year’s Red Sox, and say they were several years past their prime, which would have “averaged out to” 2008. Yes, the Yankees are certainly old. But if you look at “most recent good season”, then Jeter’s key year goes from 1999 to at least 2009, if not 2012. Soriano had MVP votes in 2012. It goes on like that. Simply saying that a guy’s best year was a while ago doesn’t mean his recent years haven’t been very good. Adrian Beltre’s best season was in 2004. That doesn’t mean he’s a weak player today.

    Reply
    1. bellweather22

      If the “best recent season” was 2009′ that’s not exactly a promising metric. If counting on Soriano for a resurgent season is necessary to win, that could happen…. But if you need Wells, Soriano, Jeter, Ichiro, ARod, Teixiera, Roberts, et all to have resurgent season, and are somehow counting on it….. Well, I’m not sure I have a word for what that is.

      Reply
  2. justinpbg

    The Yankees won a lot of games in the 80s, and had there been a wildcard, would have made several postseasons. They’re probably in the 80s for wins as of now, and will add more. You can laugh, but “all-time fiasco?” That’s across the river in Queens.

    Reply
    1. bellweather22

      On the low end, say 80-81 wins, that’s below .500…..which is entirely probable. In New York, that means wailing and gnashing of teeth. I think fiasco might be understating the reaction that kind of season will get.

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    2. Tonus

      I remember how George Steinbrenner’s attitude in the 1980s made every season seem like a failure no matter what happened. And after 1981 they stocked the team with star players who made lots of money and won lots of games but couldn’t quite reach the playoffs, until the team finally faded into the mediocrity of the early 90s. The “must win now” attitude is pretty common for sports teams here, and with the money being spent anything other than a deep playoff run is very disappointing.

      Reply
  3. 18thstreet

    I’m annoyed that you linked to FJM, as if to suggest that there’s new content there! Because, as Michael’s character, Chris Traeger, would say, “That would be, literally, the greatest thing that has ever happened to anyone ever in the history of the United States, if not the whole world.”

    Reply
    1. 18thstreet

      PS — I’m Perd Hapley, and that’s the word according to what I just said was the word.

      Yes, I discovered Parks and Rec. late.

      Reply
  4. Craig from Az

    I agree with Schur. A-Rod gets a year long suspension and resets the Yankees luxury tax account. The other guys all play well enough for the Yankees to win 80+ games. Next year the Yankees buy all the free agents available and become good again. We have this same conversation in 5 years.

    I hate the Yankees.

    Reply
  5. bellweather22

    I largely agree with your point Joe. It’s really not that controversial, except to a Yankee fan. I do think that McCann, a lefthanded dead pull hitter, should he stay healthy (a big if) will put up a big year. Ellsbury could also. But the rest of that band is well past their prime. Probably 1/3 of them will miss all or most of the season with injuries. It’s a train wreck I’ve personally been predicting for some time, which somehow the Yankees have avoided. But it does seem that it’s time to pay the Piper.

    Reply
  6. bellweather22

    As a parallel, let’s use the Brooklyn Dodgers of the 50s. In 1955, they peaked and won the World Series over the Yankees. The next year, in Jackie Robinson’s last year, they dropped off some. Jackie Robinson played fewer games & was getting old. Campanella had a terrible season. But, even though others dropped off, they still had a good season…. and they still made the World Series and lost (closely) to the Yankees. 1957 saw most of their stars cross into the past 30, or past 35 crowd. Newcombe dropped off, Campanella was done and Maglie was done. In 1958, they finished 7th. Newcombe was done. Their stars, Furillo, Snider and Hodges saw big production drop offs (even if they were still good). But the difference from the Yankees was that they had emerging young players like Jim Gilliam, Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax. In 1959, they won the World Series again featuring Drysdale, Koufax, Gilliam, Wills, Ron Fairly and Roger Craig. This is how you rebuild a team. The only holdovers that year from 1955 were Johnny Podres (still good), Gil Hodges (good season, but had a huge decline in 1960), Carl Erskine (7+ ERA, done), Carl Furillo (100 ABs, done). This is the way you insert young players, reload & hardly miss a beat. But the Yankees will never do this.

    Reply
  7. Carl

    Hi Joe,

    This reminds me of that great article you wrote on the Dodgers last year and how there line-up were world beaters – if it was 2009. Luckily, Puig saved their season. I don’t see a Puig on hte Yanks’ radar.

    Reply
  8. BobDD

    Sure looks like declining skills and upcoming injuries to me. This normal baseball fan (Yankee-hater) would like to see them sign Jose Canseco as an OF/DH/mopup pitcher.

    Reply
  9. Jim

    As Joe pointed out, everything that could go wrong for the Yankees last season did and they still won 85 games, not bad but obviously not good enough, especially in that division. For an “off” year, Im sure most teams and opposing fans would’ve signed up for that.. If Jeter can come back and be close to what he was in 2012 when he led the league in hits (he’s earned the benefit of the doubt) and Tex can come back with a 30 homer season (the guy is 34, not exactly ancient and is now healthy) and a full season of Soriano here, with the additions of McCann, Ellsbury and Beltran, they should at least contend for a Wild Card spot.Hopefully Pineda, 24, can be what they thought he was and young pitchers like Phelps/Warren/Nuno/Banuelos somehow pan out

    Yeah, there is a lot of age here but I’d still rather have old and really good players than young players who haven’t put it all together and who wish at 26 they could hit like Beltran and Soriano did at 26, let alone can now at 37 or 38. Also hate to think that at 30, Gardner, Mccann and Ellsbury are now deemed old guys, or that Jeter was really old going into 2012 or Mariano extremely old over the past 5 seasons or so. Would be nice if Yanks can actually develop young position players who have a legit chance to contribute, but Cashman is lacking in that area.

    Hopefully opposing fans keep hating because the Yankees keep winning, prove doubters wrong, make the playoffs for the 18th time or so since 1993 and put up #28. I’m sure most experts thought the Red Sox would win at this time last year coming off 69-93 season. We’ll see

    Reply
    1. cthom7

      Your optimism is touching. But there are 25 teams in this league that can win if this and this and this and this and this happens and this guy returns to form and this guy gets better and healthy and this guy doesn’t get old fast. But things almost never break completely right for any teams and the Yankees are simply too thin and relying on too many aging players to win unless everything goes right. Which it will not.

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    2. bellweather22

      This may be the most delusional post I’ve seen in a long time. You can hope for the 2009 Jeter and Teixera all you want. If both manage to play 130 games and give you anything, that may get them above .500. Absent some major deal or the emergence of some young, not on anyone’s radar player, that’s the best you can hope for.

      Reply
  10. Ben

    A friend and I used to have this conversation about the 2008 Yankees. They are probably better in the Hot Tub Time Machine than the 2014 squad by quite a bit. C – Ivan Rodriguez, 1B – Jason Giambi, 2B – Cano, SS – Jeter, 3B – Alex Rodriguez, OF – Damon, Abreu, Matsui, Bench – Posada, Gardner, Sexon, Ensberg, Melky Cabrera

    Reply
  11. Rick R

    People forget that the Yankees dynasty that began in 1996 was the result of young prospects emerging around the same time—principally Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte, Posada and Williams. This was because Steinbrenner had been suspended from baseball just when his bloated teams of the late 80′s were bottoming out. So you got the rare combination of the Yankees having high draft picks and actually holding onto them. When Steinbrenner returned the Yankees began adding high-priced free agents again, but in the early years of the Jeter era, the Yankees payroll was comparatively modest, and it was their homegrown stars that lead them to multiple championships. What the Yankees need is a few last place finishes, some high draft picks, good scouting, and the sense not to trade their prospects away for fool’s gold. Whether or not management will let that happen with a cable network to support and luxury boxes to fill is an open question. However, given the age of their team, they may have no choice but to suffer through a terrible season.

    Reply
    1. deathsinger

      Nice story. Reality:
      Jeter was a high draft pick (1st round, 6th pick).
      Pettite 22 round
      Posada 24 rd
      Williams Amateur Free Agent
      Rivera Amateur Free Agent.

      Reply

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