Every year someone usually puts a Yankees-related "thankful" post up... or is that somewhere else? I can't remember.Really don't care. Nor can I really think of a proper title, but if a mod is allowed to put "Thoughts" as his title then I can do whatever the hell I want. So here's a little something to all the members of the 2012 Yankees, and some others... So here we go. These are in no particular order. Just the order that came to my head first.
I AM THANKFUL FOR:
CC Sabathia, for being the best ace anybody could ever ask for the past 4 years. Since 2009 CC ranks sixth in WAR, 2nd in wins and third in innings pitched among qualified starting pitchers. The man is the definition of a horse (I will use "horse" in a different sense later in this fanpost). As durable as they come. I look forward to seeing him continue to lead the Yankees rotation for the next few years.
Boone Logan, for being a great lefty specialist over the past couple years. Boone ranks in the top five in the AL in strikeouts of left handed batters in the seventh inning or later when the game is within three runs*. So in other words... he's a clutch specialist. And everyone knows how important clutch is! His 11.06 K/9 is outstanding, and for the price he's become a valuable piece of the Yankees bullpen. Keep roasting them next year Boone. In the mean time, roast other things for the holidays.
Rafael Soriano, for going from one of the most hated Yankees on the team to one of the most admired in under a year. Was he actually the most hated? I have no idea, but it seems like a lot of people didn't think much of him. All we ever heard was "OMG the Yankees are paying 11 million for a seventh inning guy". Mariano Rivera went down and he filled in and became one of the best closers in the league. His 42 saves ranked 4th in baseball and 3rd in the AL, and his 2.26 ERA was nothing short of sensational. Many believe that Soriano was the savior of the Yankees season. He did a fantastic job. Now, could D-Rob have filled in the closer role and likely also saved 35+ games en route to a division championship? Probably, but that didn't happen, so Sori is the guy. Thanks for everything MFIKY! I wish you good luck next season. Do yourself a favor and don't sign with Detroit.
David Robertson, for being one of the best relievers in baseball since the start of 2011. As the Yankees setup man the last two seasons, D-Rob is tied for second in WAR among qualified relief pitchers (behind just Craig Kimbrel), and is 4th in K/9. Anyone who watches Robertson pitch knows that he's a strikeout machine. As many jams as he's walked himself into (see what I did there), he's managed to strike his way out of it (doesn't work as well with that one). But he's a homegrown, dominant relief pitcher that has a good chance at being Rivera's successor whenever Mo decides to hang them up. In 2011 the Robertson-Rivera combo reminded everyone of Rivera-Wetland in 1996, and although D-Rob wasn't quite as dominant in 2012 he still managed to be one of the top setup men in the game. He'll likely setup Mariano again in 2013, so here's hoping for another season of having the best 8-9 inning combo in baseball.
Mark Teixeira, for being a big horse that huffs and puffs his way around the bases. Well, not just that. The mouthbreather was once again among the best defensive first baseman in the game and was probably one of the very few guys that legitimately earned his gold glove award. And for all the whining we hear about him, his value to the Yankee lineup cannot be understated. Nobody has hit more home runs since he joined the team in 2009 than he has, and only Cano has compiled a higher WAR. And nobody can play defense at first like he can, and on numerous occasions he has saved Derek Jeter's fielding percentage to keep narratives and public perceptions alive. Hopefully he can come out next year and do what Bill James is projecting him to do, because that would be a huge boost to the lineup. If not, then hopefully he can just stay healthy, play his usual defense and be a big switch hitting power threat in the middle of the lineup. He's been that every second he's played in NY, and hopefully that continues.
Nick Swisher, for leading the league in fun for four years in a row! Oh and one more thing... Nick Swisher was one of the most consistent and durable right fielders in baseball for four years in a row. Swish ranks 6th in WAR among qualifying right fielders since he joined the Yankees in 2009, 7th in OBP, 8th in wRC+ and 5th in wOBA. Guys who ranked ahead of him were the likes of Jose Bautista, Carlos Beltran, Giancarlo Stanton (in more limited time) and Justin Upton. So either guys who are thought of as stars, or young players who people expect to become stars. And Nick Swisher is in a similar group. Tell me again how Ichiro is gonna replace him in the outfield? And speaking of which...
Ichiro Suzuki, for bringing a much needed veteran presence to the locker room at the All-Star break! Ichiro played all over the outfield, sat down against most lefties, and got better as the year went on, eventually earning the full time starting job and the #2 spot in the lineup. He showed flashes of the Ichiro of old, especially in September, and he was important to holding off the Orioles and taking the division. Best of luck to him in wherever he ends up. If he ends up in the Yankees starting outfield next year... then best of luck to all of us too.
Andy Pettitte, for coming out of retirement and stabilizing the starting rotation as well as anyone could have hoped. The man knows how to pitch, and what he did in 2010 and now in 2012 reminds me of Mike Mussina in 2008. A man with diminished abilities using his intelligence and veteran savvy to somehow shut down opposing offenses. His command of the strike zone this year was impeccable. It's too bad we only saw him for 12 starts and that he got virtually no run support whatsoever during the postseason, but hopefully we get 30+ starts and 4+ playoff starts out of him next year. Please Andy. Come back. If not, teach someone that pickoff move before you leave.
Curtis Granderson, for being the best power hitting center fielder in baseball for two years in a row. Actually, the best power hitter in all of baseball for two years in a row. Since Grandy joined the Yankees in 2010, his 13.2 WAR ranks 4th among qualifying center fielders. His 108 home runs rank first, and he ranks top five in literally every other legitimate offensive category. People always want something to complain about, but for all the STRIKEOUTS he's one of the most valuable pieces to the lineup and one of the biggest reasons they just won 95 games. Looking forward to seeing him patrolling center field again in 2013.
Joba Chamberlain, for finally making his way back after 2 years of hell for him I'm sure. From surgery to hurting himself via trampoline, he's had a rough time lately. He came back and struggled and had people saying "he sucks" and that he deserves to be sent down/released. And then he quickly shut people up by dominating in September. I look forward to his first full season since 2010 next year. If he pitches like he did in September, then the Yankees have themselves another valuable bullpen arm.
Clay Rapada, for being another amazing lefty specialist. Aside from satisfying the binders need for two lefties in the bullpen, my man Clay actually did a very good job against lefties this season. For as specific as his job is, he did it very well. If he's back next year, well then do the same thing. But please... I'm thankful for what you did but please don't be back next year. The less specialists the better.
Russell Martin, for his elite pitch framing and game calling ability cannot go unnoticed. There really isn't much to be thankful for with Russ... but I suppose you can think of it this way. His presence and durability made it so Francisco Cervelli or Chris Stewart did not get regular ABs. And for that... I'm incredibly thankful. Russ hit some CLUTCH home runs towards the end of the season too and I'm pretty sure he lead the team in walkoffs. He does have good power for a catcher. Hopefully second half Russ is the one that we'll see next year, but even if he isn't... I hope to see him behind the plate on opening day. No, not because he's good. But because it means Stewart or Cervelli or Eli Whiteside won't be. Get a 1-2 year deal done and get him back here. And I guess while we're on the theme of catchers...
Chris Stewart, for giving John Flaherty consistent mid-game orgasms and more Flash jokes to tell. Yup... thats all I got on this one.
Chris Dickerson, for... okay this one doesn't even need to be explained.
Brett Gardner, for being the best defensive left fielder in baseball through April 17th this season! I have no doubt he would have continued to do that, but unfortunately shit happens. Come back next year and give us another season of a 25+ UZR and a .350+ OBP. Looking forward to seeing him back.
Cody Eppley, for being Clay Rapada's other side pretty much... can we morph you two together? Then we may actually have a pitcher that I'd want on the roster next year. Clay Eppley!!! But like Rapada, Cody Eppley did a good job with the work he was given. Whether or not that kind of role is needed on the team is up to the binder. That means we'll likely see both him and Clay back here.
Hiroki Kuroda, first of all for your great season, and second of all for doing this. Kuroda's 3.52 ERA and fWAR of nearly 4 pretty much fulfills the requirement for "number two starter" that is obviously essential for EVERY team to have! Kuroda gives stability to the rotation. He's durable and consistent, and I'm so glad to have him back next season. Thats a really important signing.
Phil Hughes, for staying healthy for a full season and actually providing solid mid-level rotation numbers. His 4.23 ERA and 191 innings pitched were valuable at the very least for rotation stability. He was a good pitcher this season. A lot better than I expected. The home runs are a problem, and it makes me wonder how he'd pitch in somewhere like Comerica Park or the Oakland Colosseum or Angel Stadium. No this is not a call to trade him, just wondering aloud. Hope he comes out next year and repeats 2012. That would be good enough for me.
Ivan Nova, for being one of the rotations top starters from all of June-July 30th. He had a rough year, but just one year removed from a season where he couldn't lose a game. And even this year, a K/9 of 8.08 with a walk rate of under 3 for a young pitcher... that doesn't grow on trees. He did have some success this year, even if it's hard to remember. I'm rooting hard for him next year to get back in that rotation and do what he did in 2011. Hopefully 2012 was just a bump in the road.
David Phelps, for................................................................................................................................................. (thats about how long it took for him to get in the game) being a solid spot starter/short reliever/long reliever for the Yankees in 2012. Pretty much whatever he was asked to do, he did it and did it very well. He may very well be competing with Nova for a rotation spot depending on how things play out. Whatever happens, I hope he's a part of the Yankees future plans because he really impressed this season.
Mariano Rivera, for COMING BACK! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! GET A DAMN DEAL DONE NOW CASHMAN! /rant. And also for being, hands down, the greatest relief pitcher in the history of baseball. I don't need to bring up any stats about Mariano's accomplishments. They're already well known. And to do what he does even at this age, it's remarkable. This upcoming year may be his biggest test yet, coming off major surgery. But if anyone is seriously doubting Mo... then well. Prepare to be proven wrong yet again. I don't know how many times people have tried to declare this guy done after a bad stretch/a few bad games and how every time it's blown up in their face. Nobody better than him. Can't wait to see him in 2013.
Raul Ibanez, for saving the Yankees season multiple times from September 15th- on. The reason it's September 15th on is because before that, I was under the impression that he was a useless POS that didn't deserve to be on the team. But proven RBI guy proved himself big time late in the year, with a game tying pinch hit home run against Oakland, then another home run against Oakland, then a game tying home run against Boston, then a game tying and game winning home run against Baltimore, and then a game tying home run against Detroit. When you do this that much... it's gonna get noticed. I will always be thankful to him for coming up with big home run after big home run late in the season. I still don't know how he did it, but it happened and I'll always remember him for that. That said, if he comes back next year... stay out of the damn outfield.
Eduardo Nunez, for being one of the most athletic young shortstops I've seen in a while. A cannon for an arm, lots of range, explosive speed and a quick bat. He has a lot of tools. If he can bring these tools together, he has the potential to be this teams future starting shortstop. I'm rooting for that anyway.
Jayson Nix, for hitting that pinch hit game winning double/triple or whatever it was in Seattle that one day... thats literally all I remember him doing. But maybe thats a good thing? For a utility player, not noticing them is actually a compliment, because it means they're doing their job without screwing up. Nix did everything asked of him and did it well, and played all over the infield. He did a nice job. I'd like the Yankees to keep him around, but if not, he's easily replaceable. Best of luck to him.
Mike Trout, for being nothing but a joy to watch for the entire season. Yea I know he isn't a Yankee. But this man is the future of the game of baseball. I'm banking on him being the all-around best player in the league for a long time. He was definitely the best this year. His WAR of 10, incredible game-changing defense, elite speed on the bases and then his .326/.399/.564 line. That may very well be the best rookie season in the history of baseball. And Mike also may have learned that in baseball life isn't always fair. He was inexcusably robbed of the gold glove award for center fielders, unless the criteria for the award was "how well does this player blow bubbles and catch fly balls at the same time". And then he loses out on the MVP award for reasons that have already been discussed and I'm not getting into it again. But I can't wait to see this guy play next year and beyond. Thank you for joining major league baseball.
Mason Williams, for giving me a new prospect to be excited about. I was crushed when Jesus Montero was traded, and part of the reason was because Montero was a guy that I'd followed throughout his minor league career intently and I was really excited to see him make it with such expectations. Mason Williams has sort of filled that void. I can say with absolute confidence right now that Mason Williams will be an elite defensive center fielder. His defense won't be a problem. He has great speed and gets great jumps, and the more practice he gets the better his routes will be. Defense won't hold him back. The question is his bat, but he has time. Hopefully by 2014 or 2015, the Yankees will have their new starting center fielder. Please, don't trade him. I really want to see this guy as a Yankee.
Derek Jeter, for... everything. Can't say enough about this guy. He is the number 1 shortstop in baseball since he entered the league in 1996, and it's not even close. His .316/.362/.429 line in 2012 is pretty good too, and he continues to be a solid offensive shortstop in leadoff hitter. People proclaimed him done after 2010, and he's come out and shut everyone up with his bat. As for his defense... I'm not getting into that. This is a post about things we're thankful for. Hopefully the ankle heals okay and he's back in the starting lineup on opening day. And thanks for all the memories you've given me as a Yankee fan over the years.
Alex Rodriguez, for being, quite simply put, one of the most productive players to ever put on a Yankee uniform. Nobody gets more hate than this man, but very few are better at baseball than he is. Since he joined the Yankees in 2004, Alex Rodriguez has a .292/.387/.538 line and a wOBA of nearly .400. His 50.7 fWAR ranks 3rd in all of baseball over that time and first in the American League. And as for his comparison to his teammates... again there is nobody better. He has been by far the best all around Yankee since joining the team, and his 50.7 fWAR leads anyone who has played for the team by a large margain. He ranks 10th All time in WAR for the Yankees, 6th in home runs with the team, and 5th in slugging. And then the 2 MVPs, 2009 Postseason MVP, and all the silver sluggers/Hank Aaron awards/All-Star appearances, etc. He deserves more appreciation than he gets from most people. The contract is what it is and he's not who he used to be. You can not like his personality if you want, or some of the decisions he makes with his life off the field. But you can't take anything away from what he's already accomplished on the baseball field and as a New York Yankee. Hopefully next season he can be fully healthy and be the threat the Yankees need out of the middle of the lineup. He sounded determined after this season ended. Lets see him turn that into production.
Robinson Cano, for being the best second baseman in all of baseball. He's the best player on the Yankees today, and a top 5 player in baseball. Cannon for an arm, sweet stroke, plays every single day and as productive as they come. 2012 was one of the best seasons of his career and he only continues to get better. Really looking forward to seeing what he can do in 2013. Whether he bats 3rd or 4th or 2nd or whatever the binder deems logical, he's going to produce. As for what happens after 2013, we'll see. But I'm incredibly thankful for everything he's done in NY thus far.
And finally the 2012 New York Yankees, for giving me great, entertaining suspenseful baseball for nearly 7 months. Although it didn't end how we wanted it to, it was still a great season and I can't wait for 2013.
(note: If you see an asterisk *, it means I pulled the statistic out of my ass).