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Tough Gig

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Hank Steinbrenner:

“I think the most important thing is, whoever we hire, give him a chance. Because he’s not getting the ’96 Yankees. He’s getting a younger team, and for the most part, it’s a transition period, so give him a little while.”

Yeah, you have to show great patience with a manager given that paucity of talent to work with. Right. Assuming the major free agents return, the ’96 Yankees are clearly better than the ’08 Yankees at the following positions:

  • Centerfield
  • First base, assuming they don’t sign someone better than Tino “Even More Overrated Than Mattingly” Martinez

And, er, that’s it. O’Neill and Abreu are a wash, although I grant that Abreu has much lower Water Coolers Destroyed and Bitching Incessantly About Belt-High Pitches Down the Middle Called Strikes averages. Jeter ’08 is obviously better than Jeter ’96, even granting the regression in his defense. And some of remaining edges are, of course, massive: one of the 10 best players ever against the shell of Wade Boggs and Charlie Hayes, Cano against Duncan (although Duncan did have a fluke season in ’96 itself,) Matsui/Damon against Ice Williams, bordeline HOFer Jorge Posada against Joe Girardi. The ’96 Yankees did have a veteran rotation, but apart from Cone’s 11 starts it was merely good; Petite was a little better, but it seems likely that Wang/Hughes/Chamberlain will outpitch Key/Rogers/Doc (ERA+s of the latter 3: 107, 107, 100.)

Even granting that the earlier team had an excellent bench (one thing Torre deserves credit for, and which largely got away from him in later years) and more bullpen depth, please. Whoever manages the team in ’07 ’08 will have far more to work with and merits a high level of impatience.

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