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Why the Yankees Were Lucky in 2009

By Mike Silva ~ April 2nd, 2010. Filed under: Mike Silva, New York Yankees.

Wallace Matthews, as only he could, caused a stir in Yankeeland his first day on the job at ESPN NY. To some, it preposterous to think the 2009 Yankees were anything but the class of baseball. Yes, in the end they were World Champions, but the 2009 Yankees had something the 01 to 08 versions lacked: luck. Yes, I agree with Wallace Matthews the 2009 Yankees were a very lucky bunch.

I could talk about A-Rod coming back sooner than expected, Girardi’s maturation in the dugout, the new Yankees assimilation, Jeter and Posada’s renaissance, or the rainout in the ALCS. Those are all fortunate situations, but the real luck was with the starting pitching because never have I seen a team navigate a season in the modern era with only three starting pitchers.

It was apparent very early in the year that Chien Ming Wang was not going to be himself. Despite the numbers that fans want to throw out, Joba Chamberlain was extremely ordinary for the majority of his starts. I would say his “development plan” put more strain than necessary on the team’s quest for a title. This was especially true when Phil Hughes was pressed into bullpen service. In 2008 this was a team that couldn’t get 3 quality starts out of a 5 man rotation, but was able to get it out of a three man rotation in 2009.

Maybe luck is the product of design. The Yankees bullpen might be the real MVP of the 2009 season. Not just Rivera, that is too obvious, but the contributions from Aceves, Coke, Hughes, and Robertson during the season. Don’t forget Damaso Marte, back from the dead, rounding out a deadly postseason pen. Considering that 3 key contributors in the “bridge to Mariano” were Cashman draft picks, perhaps saying it was luck is unfair.

The point is can the Yankees expect to lead such a charmed life again? It appears they went out and fixed the rotation problem by adding Javier Vazquez and finally putting Chamberlain back where he belongs. But I would never say Burnett or Pettitte are guarantees. One has a history of injury and the other was a below league average pitcher in 2008.  The trades made for Vazquez and Granderson have robbed the Yankees of the depth they enjoyed a year ago. The good news is, even if there is natural regression on offense, the Yankees are a great bet to score 900 runs. The worst case scenario puts them in the conversation for a playoff spot.

I think that Matthews was trying to make a point and remind Yankees fans that games still need to be played. Tampa is hungry and Boston is still Boston. I believe the Yanks are poised for another playoff berth and deep October run, but even the best laid plans need some help from the baseball gods. If you want to see the antitheses of luck just call Omar Minaya.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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2 Responses to Why the Yankees Were Lucky in 2009

  1. Lisa from Subway Squawkers

    How about him suggesting that Girardi could do no wrong last year, when he and other media folks ripped him over the coals for everything he did, especially the three-man rotation.

    Or him praising A-Rod, the very same player he said last March was the Worst. Deal. Ever., and who he said ruined the Yankees?

    Or having Teixeria listed as batting behind A-Rod?

    Oh, Wally’s off to a blazing start!


  2. MetsKnicksRutgers

    Lisa — I am unaware of any of Mathews previous work. I am not sure how it worked out that way, but he must have been solely a yankee writer for the last few years so I didn’t pay any attention. That being said, the Arod deal is pretty bad even by yankee standards. Right now it is decent, but that could change in the next year or two, and much more likely to happen in the next 3-4 years. It is crazy to think that in 3-4 years he will STILL have another 3-4 years left on his contract IIRC. The yankees have had a lot of dead money on the team in the past, Jaret Wright, Pavano and now Igawa. 7-11 million dollars annually is very different from potentially 30 million dollars especially when Arod starts getting close to the Ruth, Aaron and Bonds numbers. If he is a below replacement player at that time it’ll be a very difficult decision for the Yanks to pay him millions of dollars per home run on top of his massive salary. It won’t be catastrophic like it would be for nearly every other franchise and by that time the Yanks payroll may be around 300 million. There is a chance that it could also stay right around where it is making it much more difficult for the yanks to continue to be far and away the biggest player in FA.

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