Is the Yankees' glass half-full or half-empty?   

Updated: January 7, 2009, 4:10 PM ET

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Yankees Introduce Mark Teixeira

    SCENE: New York Yankees boardroom, in the days following the conclusion of the World Series.

YANKEES CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD HAL STEINBRENNER: Welcome, everyone. I know it was a tough season. Despite a $209 million payroll, the highest in major league history, we missed the playoffs. But the good news is we're losing a lot off our payroll. Jason Giambi, Bobby Abreu, Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte are free agents and we're not likely to re-sign any of them.



HAL STEINBRENNER: Anyway, as you know, we're moving into the new Yankee Stadium in 2009. We'll have more luxury-box revenue and merchandise revenue. We'll have our own restaurant. We're charging up to $2,500 for some seats. Frankly, we're going to be rolling cash.


HAL STEINBRENNER: I'm a bit surprised the federal government hasn't asked us to help out with the bailout. Anyway, as we establish our offseason plans, I see two options: (1) show some fiscal restraint, avoid the big-name free agents, go with the youngsters again and lower our payroll; or (2) sign some big-name free agents and still lower our payroll.

HANK STEINBRENNER: Sign some free agents!


BRIAN CASHMAN: Umm, well ... I guess maybe I'd go with signing some big-name free agents.


Fast-forward to now. The Mark Teixeira signing was finalized Tuesday, giving the Yankees a total commitment of $423.5 million to Teixeira, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. Maybe it will make them better ... or maybe it won't. That's why it's time to play Glass Half-Full/Glass Half-Empty!


1. CC Sabathia. Sabathia has thrown more than 500 innings over the past two seasons, but he was handled carefully early in his career and has never had a significant arm problem. His big frame is an asset, not a liability. He thrives in the New York pressure cooker and matches his 2008 performance in which he pitched 253 innings with a 2.70 ERA, as little kids all over the Big Apple start wearing their hats sideways and putting on extra pounds.

Improvement: Sabathia replaces Mike Mussina in the rotation. Mussina was pretty good in 2008, but Sabathia is obviously a step up. +3.0 wins.

2. A.J. Burnett. Burnett makes 34 starts and pitches 221 innings, like he did in 2008 (only the second time he's made 30 starts in his career), and even lowers his ERA a little bit (4.07 ERA in '08 with Toronto).

Improvement: +3.0 wins over Andy Pettitte's 2008 performance.

3. Rest of the rotation. Chien-Ming Wang is healthy, Joba Chamberlain is healthy, Phil Hughes is healthy. Wang matches his 2006-2007 level of performance, Joba dominates over 200 innings and Hughes proves to be a league-average starting pitcher.

Wang versus Wang/Sidney Ponson: +1.7 wins

Joba versus Joba/Darrell Rasner: +2.1 wins

Hughes versus Hughes/Ian Kennedy/Pavano et al: +1.8 wins

Total: +5.6 wins.

4. Mark Teixeira. Teixeira replaces Jason Giambi in the lineup. Teixeira created about 134 runs at the plate in 2008 compared to Giambi's 94, a 2.4-win advantage. Considering Teixeira's consistency, let's project the same numbers. He also rates an edge in the field, if not in hair gel.

Total: +3.5 wins.

5. Robinson Cano/Jorge Posada. Somehow, Cano materialized as the ghost of Horace Clarke in 2008. Let's say he returns to his 2007 level of .306/.353/.488 instead of .271/.305/.410. Posada was awesome in 2007, hitting .338/.426/.543. Let's ignore that it was his career high in batting average by 51 points. Let's ignore that he'll turn 38 during the season. Let's ignore his balky elbow. Let's pretend he hits .338 again and stays healthy. This would be better than Jose Molina.

Cano: +2.8 wins

Posada compared to Posada/Jose Molina: +5.8 wins

Total: +7.6 wins.

6. Melky Cabrera. Cabrera was terrible in 2008, and printing his statistics here would only serve to embarrass him. Let's chalk up '08 to a bad case of the junior jinx and say he hits like 2007.

Improvement: +1.0 win.

7. Alex Rodriguez/Derek Jeter/Johnny Damon. A-Rod hits like 2007, Jeter hits like 2007, Damon repeats 2008 performance. Madonna cheers happily from her luxury box.

Total improvement: +4.6 wins.

8. Matsui/Nady/Swisher versus Abreu/Nady/Matsui.

Umm ... let's just call this a wash. +0.0 wins.

9. Bullpen. The bullpen had a 3.79 ERA in 2008, the team's best relief ERA since a 3.69 mark in 2002. It's hard to project the bullpen doing any better.

Improvement: 0.0 wins.


PROJECTED YANKEES RECORD UNDER GLASS HALF-FULL ANALYSIS (based on improvement from the Yankees' 89-73 record of 2008): 117-45 ... a major league record for victories!


1. CC Sabathia. The easygoing Sabathia gets off to a slow start, the New York media turns nasty, the fans turn on him, little kids boo him, the stat pundits point out that he compiled his big NL numbers in a weak division, the Big Apple touches 100 degrees for 23 straight days in August and Sabathia finishes with a 4.29 ERA and misses the final month with a tired arm.

Sabathia versus '08 Mussina: -2.0 wins.

2. A.J. Burnett. Burnett discovers the media scrutiny is a little tougher after he walks six batters in an April loss. He misses two months with a sore elbow. Hank Steinbrenner wonders why the team paid $82.5 million for a guy who has won more than 12 games just once.

Burnett/Kennedy versus '08 Pettitte: -1.5 wins.

3. Rest of the rotation. Wang won 19 games with solid ERAs in 2006 and 2007 despite extremely low strikeout rates. This is referred to as a statistical anomaly. His ERA rises by half a run. Chamberlain isn't quite so dominant while starting on a full-time basis, and did we mention the heat wave that hits New York in August? His ERA rises by a run. Hughes struggles again and is eventually replaced in the rotation by a slew of candidates, including Sidney Ponson.

Total: -2.0 wins.

4. Mark Teixeira. Food for thought: Teixeira's career home splits (mostly spent in the hitter-friendly environment of Texas) are .306/.388/.580, versus .273/.368/.502 on the road. If he hits like his career road numbers suggest, his improvement over Giambi is marginal.

Total: +1.5 wins.

5. Robinson Cano/Jorge Posada. Why has Cano gone from .342 to .306 to .271? The next number in that pattern is about .236. And did we mention that Posada is old and has a balky elbow and that Jose Molina is still the insurance policy?

Total: No change from 2008. (Even Jose Molina can't be worse than Jose Molina.)

6. Melky Cabrera. Cabrera struggles out of the gate, the team tries Brett Gardner in center but he can't hit and is replaced by Nick Swisher, meaning the Damon/Swisher/Nady outfield becomes one of the worst defensive outfields in the league. The team eventually returns to Cabrera despite his .243 average and .299 on-base percentage.

Total: -1.5 wins.

7. Alex Rodriguez/Derek Jeter/Johnny Damon. Well, A-Rod turns 34 in July, Jeter turns 35 in July (how many teams have won a World Series with a 35-year-old shortstop?) and Damon just turned 35. Their bats are a year slower and their legs a half-step less quick in the field. Plus, what if Madonna dumps A-Rod at the All-Star break?

Total: -3.0 wins.

8. Matsui/Nady/Swisher versus Abreu/Nady/Matsui.

Umm ... let's just call this a wash. +0.0 wins.

9. Bullpen. Do you realize Mariano Rivera had the best year of his career last season, allowing a .165 average against? He is going to get old one of these years. Really. Honest. Maybe. And the rest of the 'pen? Due for a decline.

Total: -2.5 wins.


PROJECTED YANKEES RECORD UNDER GLASS HALF-EMPTY ANALYSIS: 78-84. The Yankees finish with their first losing record since 1992!



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