The 2013 season was certainly… interesting. On paper, it may have been a disappointment, but in reality, it may be that the Yankees actually surpassed expectations, considering injuries, drama and everything else. Having said that, let’s delve into this short recap on 2013:
Sep 26, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcherMariano Rivera
(42) leaves the field after his final home game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
The GOAT said goodbye in such a successful fashion that I am sure Brian Cashman would have backed up a Brinks truck into Mo’s driveway to get him to stay another year: 2.11 ERA, 44 saves, and a host of cool gifts from various parks around baseball. Without question, my favorite moment of the Yankee season was watching as he ran in from the bullpen during the All Star Game, totally by himself and players lining the rails of the respective dugouts to pay homage to the superstar. As a person and a player, it’s hard to find a guy around sports to universally admired. Mariano may be as close to irreplaceable as it gets- he will certainly be missed.
Soriano was brought in to the Bronx in an effort to help a stagnant offense- and it was triumphant return indeed: .256/.325/.525, 129 OPS+, 17 homers and 51 RBI in 219 ABs. Combined with RAR score of 15, Soriano more than held his own in the field, as well. Having him rotate with Ichiro Suzuki, Vernon Wells and Brett Gardner in the outfield, Soriano could prove to be a very smart pickup, despite the potential cost of Cory Black.
The heir apparent to Mo, Robertson had a season that was largely overshadowed by Alex Rodriguez’s drama, Mo’s retirement, and the overall Yankee season. Quietly, he had a 2.04 ERA in 66 IP, with a 1.04 WHIP and 10.4 K/9 rate. A sparkling season for Robertson, in whom Yankees fans should have a lot of faith to assume the role of closer in 2014.
On the whole, I think it wasn’t Alex’s season that puts him here; in fact, I think he surprised a lot of people, myself included, felt that he outplayed expectations. Instead, what lands ARod here is the circus caused by his lawyers, PR flacks, anyone who told him it would be a good idea to openly question Yankee doctors, open a Twitter account, have a doctor who never examined him go on the radio, and openly call out the team and MLB in the process. The only thing keeping him from landing on “The Ugly” portion of this list was that his many lawsuits- against the Yankee doctors, MLB, the Commissioner, etc.- occurred after the season, so technically it doesn’t belong. However, that doesn’t mean that ARod should be ashamed of his actions, and that Yankees (and really, baseball) fans should hope that the arbitration upholds a significant portion of the record 211 game suspension for the Biogenesis investigation.
Walking wounded. (Image: John Munson/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports)
By my unofficial count, the Yankees had approximately 28 players who appeared on the 25-man roster in 2013 on the disabled list at any given time. About 19 of those were players lost to the 60-day DL, meaning that they were either lost for more than two months or the duration of the season. Those players included: Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Kevin Youkilis, Travis Hafner and Eduardo Nunez. With all due respect to that might $230 million dollar payroll, and the terrific job Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi did all season, there is no team in creation that can survive so many injuries for such a significant period of time and actually make a playoff run. The fact that the Yankees held on for so long is a true testament to sheer tenacity and Cashman’s ability to thrift shop.
With another three years (and a fourth with a vesting option) on his contract, CC Sabathia must return to some semblance of his former self. It’s unlikely to think that his velocity will come back at age 33 to high 90s, but he can survive with low 90s provided that his control is consistent. Lacking that, we saw what CC will be the next few years- decidedly not an ace (14-13, 4.78, career high 112 ER, 1.37 WHIP) who can do a mean Phil Hughes impression (28 homers allowed by Sabathia). However, Brian Cashman is right- Sabaitha’s K/9 and BB/9 rates are still pretty decent. For the Yankees moving forward, Sabathia must at least return to keeping the team in the game, going 6-7 innings per game. In my humble opinion, it’s unlikely that the Yankees will seriously compete for a championship during the rest of his tenure, but to have any hope at all, he will have to step up.
Joba Chamberlain/Phil Hughes
These two came up through the Yankee system together, so it is only fitting that we assess their terrible 2013 season together, too. Even the most ardent Hughes fans (me!) have to admit his season was a disappointment: 145 IP, 4-14, 1.46 WHIP, 4.95 ERA, 24 homers allowed (though hey, that was down nine from 2012), 78 ERA+. Even I can’t defend that. With his high fly-ball rate (arguably the most extreme in MLB) and his propensity to give up the home run, Hughes could do well in a NL park, and may get another shot as a starter. (Spoiler: I think he lands across the bridge in Queens.) That said, Hughes has almost certainly played his last game in the Bronx. As for Chamberlain: yikes. In 42 IP, Joba had a 4.93, 1.73 WHIP (?!), 5.9 BB/9, 83 ERA+… all of which means Joba is likely out, too. Long gone are the days that these two were hoped to be the 1 and 1A pitchers in the rotation.
That just about puts a bow on it, Yankees fans. What are your nominees for the season?