"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

The Sun Will Come Out…Today!

“It’s supposed to hurt,” said Rex Ryan after the AFC championship game last night.

Bitterly cold in New York today, the coldest day of the winter so far.

Baseball is coming…not soon enough for most of us but it’ll be here before we know it. Excited?


I know the thinking goes the Yanks’ 2011 hopes ride on whether or not A.J. Burnett has a strong season, but Mark Teixeira is my guy. I expect him to have a strong year–and a good start to boot. If he’s a monster, the Yanks sure will be tough. Over at It’s About the Money, Stupid, Mark Smith looks for Teixeria and Alex Rodriguez to rebound in 2011. Who do you think are the key players to watch?

[Pictures by Bags and Alex B]

Categories:  Bronx Banter  New York City Pictures  NYC

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1 Sliced Bread   ~  Jan 24, 2011 8:55 am

a Jeter bounce would be very helpful. He doesn't have to go all MVP candidate, but if he can produce career avg obp, and slg, that would be excellent.
Posada. I'm hoping less time in the crouch will do wonders for the upright portion of his game. I love when Po's in slugging mode.

2 rbj   ~  Jan 24, 2011 8:57 am

"Who do you think are the key players to watch?"

Sadly, Mitre & Nova. Otherwise (still trying to get used to the one space after a period) Yankees will have to win an awful lot of 11-10 games.

No sun today, just snow showers. Three weeks til pitchers and catchers.

3 Alex Belth   ~  Jan 24, 2011 9:26 am

Nova! Be curious to see if he builds on his promising debut last year. I wonder if Alex will stay healthy and if he does, will he still be really good? Be great to see Granderson rake this year too, huh?

4 monkeypants   ~  Jan 24, 2011 9:30 am

3) Russel Martin and Brett Gardner. I envision very bad things if these guys get off to slow starts or fail to produce. I envision equally bad things, ironically, if Martin gets off to a really hot start.

5 Alex Belth   ~  Jan 24, 2011 10:01 am

4) The knock on Martin is that he fades as the season goes on. Maybe the Yanks won't run him too hard so he can last...

6 monkeypants   ~  Jan 24, 2011 10:25 am

5) Hopefully. I am most worried about an organizational overreaction to whatever Martin is doing, good or bad, which could result in Cervelli starting 120 games and/or Montero being traded for some Jeremy Bondermanesque #5 starter.

7 monkeypants   ~  Jan 24, 2011 10:26 am

5) BTW, Alex, good to see you posting a little more these days. The place hasn't been quite the same since you (and Cliff, when he was still on board) stopped dropping in to game and discussion threads as often.

8 Diane Firstman   ~  Jan 24, 2011 10:28 am

Joba and Jeter ....

If Joba pitches well enuf through July, trade him for a needed part.
And Jeter's offense and defense can't slide from his 2010 levels .... gulp!

9 Just Fair   ~  Jan 24, 2011 10:49 am

I don't think I'll be able to handle another slow start from Teix. That shit gets old quick. Will Cano be able to improve upon his 2010 campaign? I say yes.

10 rbj   ~  Jan 24, 2011 10:54 am

[6] Isn't Bonderman still a FA? Why give up value for and -esque type when you can have the real deal simply for cash.

Should the Yankees give Bonderman a low ball contract, and see what he can do in spring training?

11 joejoejoe   ~  Jan 24, 2011 10:56 am

Russell Martin. If he hits anything like he did when he first came in the league it will make up for a lot of other problems. He's only going to be 28 years old, it's not like the Yankees are getting a retread. They're getting a player in his prime sorting himself out. I'm excited to see Martin. Is Posada now 3rd on the catching depth chart?

I'm also watching to see if Jeter plays any OF or 1B in spring training. He should volunteer to do. If Jackie Robinson, Paul Molitor, and Pete Rose can play different positions, so can Jeter. Cal Ripken was a below average hitter 7 of the last 10 years of his career. I don't want to see that in pinstripes from anybody. Jeter deserves the benefit of the doubt, he's been a very good hitter all but one year for the last 14 years, but that year was last year.

12 Alex Belth   ~  Jan 24, 2011 11:12 am

7) Posting or commenting? Yeah, it's easier to get in the comments during the off season.

13 bp1   ~  Jan 24, 2011 11:24 am

Love this intro for Verducci's latest column over on si.com "Here's why Mark Teixeira could be the next Giambi in pinstripes". Yeah, whatever.

Key players to watch?

I think A-Rod is going to absolutely rake this year. Just got a feeling. I think he winds up top in MVP voting. The Tex-ARod-Robbie 3-4-5 will be the best in baseball by quite a margin.

I think CC might take a step back. These past few years are going to catch up with him at sometime, and the knee issue he had is a warning flag. I hope not, but I think he's due for a down year. He's the guy I'm going to watch most closely, 'cause so much is resting on his making every start. Hopefully if he drops down a notch, AJ will pick it up a notch and balance it out. AJ can't get much worse.

Finally, I think Granderson has a big 2nd year in Yankee Pinstripes. He was a different hitter at the end of the year than the beginning and let's hope he carries it into the 2011 season.

C'Mon baseball!! We can hardly wait.

14 monkeypants   ~  Jan 24, 2011 11:51 am

10) Hence Bondermanesque. It doesn't matter who, but if the Martin dazzles the Yankees might be tempted to trade Montero for perceived immediate need and get little value in return.

15 monkeypants   ~  Jan 24, 2011 11:52 am

11) Yes, Jeter was a below average hitter last year. So it makes sense to move him to OF or DH or 1B where the offensive expectations are higher???

16 monkeypants   ~  Jan 24, 2011 11:58 am

I don't think that Jeter's performance will be the thing to watch: he may have some bounce back, but the team may simply have to accept what most other teams do: that the weakest offensive contributor will come from the SS position. The more interesting question in my mind is how the team deals with this reality: does jeter continue to bat #1 or #2, or is he moved down in the lineup?

17 joejoejoe   ~  Jan 24, 2011 12:30 pm

15) Jeter kills lefties for his career and last year. You can find games for him in OF and 1B and DH as he ages on those days. You have to put your best 9 on the field including rest and injuries and Jeter offering to be flexible gives Girardi fewer headaches and more options. The ability to work Jeter into other positions adds value to the team. If you can get 150ABs out of a regular at multiple positions, it frees up a roster spot you would use for a utility player for something else. I'm not saying Jeter is going to slug like Pujols. I'm saying Jeter has a lot to offer and would have more to offer if he was versatile.

18 monkeypants   ~  Jan 24, 2011 1:05 pm

[17] I don't understand...why put Jeter in the OF on the days when a lefty pitches? Just to get Ramiro Pena into the lineup? If he is only to get 150 PAs, then it should be exclusively at SS (with maybe an odd DH day thrown in), to maximize his value.

19 Yankster   ~  Jan 24, 2011 1:34 pm

[18] Agreed. If an outfielder needs a break, we have Jones. If 1st base needs a break, we have Posada and Swisher. If 2nd or 3rd need a break then leave Jeter in his spot and add your weak backup, like Pena. There's never a time when the team improves (except in a very weird and rare pinch hitting moment) by moving Jeter to a position with great offensive expectations (which is all the positions).

Also, Jeter did not have a below AL SS year last year. He had a below Jeter year last year. He was either the second or third most valuable short stop in the American League last year by a lot of different measures including fangraphs WAR and RAR. If the Yankees keep getting even last years production from Jeter, he will be an advantage over most other teams. If he snaps back even half way to his career average he will be a significant advantage.

20 joejoejoe   ~  Jan 24, 2011 7:24 pm

17) 18) There's optimal and there's reality.

The reality is the Yankees gave 364 ABs to non-pitchers with an OPS+ of 61 or lower last season. I'm not saying give Jeter a 1B and OF glove to free time for Ramiro Pena. I'm not saying Jeter is Babe Ruth. I'm saying he's not Greg Golson. Penciling in Jeter for 150 games at SS means you don't look at other quality MIF on the market (esp. not with Cano an MVP candidate).

If a terrible Braves team wants to deal a hot FA-to-be Omar Infante for AAA pitching should the Yankees look at a deal? If the Marlins are horrid and start shopping Hanley Ramirez should the Yankees ignore them? Jeter's refusal to entertain moving from SS at all is about a lot more than getting Ramiro Pena time at short.

At what level of performance is Jeter not a given at SS? Posada at C? Rivera as closer? The team reached a level with Posada. I'm not trying to push anybody out. I'm trying to figure out what is reasonable in advance so when somebody is swinging a wet noodle bat for 2 months the response isn't "one more month".

21 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Jan 24, 2011 7:27 pm

I'm with Monkey and Yankster. The bat for Jeter plays best by a lot at ss. But I also think that it is wrong to say he 'was a below average hitter' last year. Not at shortstop. At short he was still solidly above average for the position - which is why he has to play there. We have, as noted, a 4th OF option now (and will have a 5th) and we have backups at 1st base. (Swish, for one). Jeter moving around offers some theoretical flexibility but it is hard to see situations where he belongs on the field (not resting) and NOT at ss. And that is pretty much true the rest of the way, not just this year. As his bat slides, ss is the only place - until his fielding slides too far there.

I'm not relying on too much rebound from him, though will hope for it, for all the obvious reasons. He's apparently rejigging his swing to do the 'quicker to the ball' thing, less dive with the front foot.

I actually have no single 'must do it' player. I expect Grandy to be better, too, as someone said above. Red Sox are loaded, have to remember how badly they were injured last year, and still competed. Tampa, realistically, would need to find the promised land with Manny (Damon will be what he is now, but a bit better in their park maybe) not to take two steps backwards.

We need a 4th starter. Badly. Somewhere - in house (SuperNova?) or acquired. We may need a 2nd starter. If so it'll get worrisome fast.

I expect Grandy to be better, too, as someone said above.

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