Thursday, February 19, 2009

When They Were Kings

Nobody in their right mind thinks the New York Yankees are modeling this year's team after their 1996 championship counterpart. You could find more similarities between David Ortiz and your mom (*hint: they're both fat). In 1996, the team's farm system was blossoming, and with the addition of a few key free agents, the team started to click on all cylinders. In 2009, Dumber and Dumberer went out and bought a bunch of star players, adding to the collection of star players they've already bought.

My question is: can the 2009 Yankees bring the hardware home to the Bronx, and how do they compare, position by position to the '96 team?

Well, I'm glad I asked myself that question. It just so happens that I've worked up an overly indulgent look at the two teams, '96 vs. '09.

- - - -


1996 - Joe Girardi: .294, 2 HR, 45 RBI
2009 - Jorge Posada
Girardi split designated driver duties time behind the plate with Jim Leyritz (.264, 7, 40) back in '96. The same situation is bound to happen this season between Jorge Posada and Jose Molina, since Posada's shoulder is currently being held together with used electrical tape and Skoal.

First Base

1996 - Tino Martinez: .281, 28 HR, 123 RBI
2009 - Mark Teixeira

Tino walked into a buzzsaw in '96, replacing demigod, Don Mattingly, at 1B. But impressions changed once New Yorkers caught wind of Tino's meticulously styled hairdo. Teixeira is looking to do the same, only he is planning to use his massive ego and ability to bench press the sun to sway the masses.

Second Base

1996 - Mariano Duncan: .340, 8 HR, 56 RBI
2009 - Robinson Cano

Duncan handed 50 games at 2B to speedy shithead, Andy Fox, but Cano won't be splitting time. And Cano is guaranteed to have a bounce-back season, regardless of what some asshole working for "Lindy's" wants you to believe.

3rd Base

1996 - Wade Boggs: .311, 2 HR, 41 RBI
2009 - Alex Rodriguez

A-Rod will no doubt be a lot less drunk than Boggs, but at the same time, a lot more productive in the power category. Unfortunately, he will draw even more attention to the team, now that he admitted to sticking something in his ass, other than a cock.


1996 - Derek Jeter: .314, 10 HR, 78 RBI
2009 - Derek Jeter

Jeter was thrust into the starting spot after the death of Tony Fernandez during Spring Training (false), and since then, the women of NYC and their sexual fantasies have never been the same. And speaking of "the same", expect offensive numbers this year to be pretty similar to those Jeter put up in '96.

Left Field

1996 - Daryl Strawberry: .262, 11 HR, 36 RBI
2009 - Johnny Damon

This was another platoon area for the Yankees, with The Straw, Gerald "Ice" Williams, and Tim "Rock" Raines making numerous starts. It marked a historic season for baseball; never have three outfielders all shared drug-referencing nicknames while playing the same position. Damon is probably one of the 103 unreleased names on the steroid list. Coincidence? I don't think so.


1996 - Bernie Williams: .305, 29 HR, 102 RBI
2009 - Melky Cabrera

This was Bernie's first of five 100 RBI seasons. This will not ring true this year, with Melky trying to beat out Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher for the position. All three of them are lineup liabilities. And Swisher is fat. Very, very fat.

Right Field

1996 - Paul O'Neil: .302, 19 HR, 91 RBI
2009 - Xavier Nady

Nady is mild-mannered when compared to the certifiable Paul O'Neill. But O'Neill, aside from his cry baby mannerisms, was a fierce competitor, and was one of the main catalysts of the World Series in '96. Nady just wants a piece of the New York box action - and who wouldn't? The girls in Pittsburgh look like skin dumpsters, literally.

Designated Hitter

1996 - Ruben Sierra: .258, 11 HR, 52 RBI - Cecil Fielder: .260, 13 HR, 37 RBI
2009 - Hideki Matsui

Matsui, if healthy, will hit for a higher average than the Sierra/Fielder combo did (Sierra was dealt for Fielder in July), except he will fail to bring no street credit and fail to look as fat and ridiculous as the DH boys did in '96.

Starting Rotation

1996 - Jimmy Key (12-11, 4.68), Andy Pettitte (21-8, 3.87), David Cone (7-2, 2.88), Kenny Rogers (12-8 4.68), Dwight Gooden (11-7, 5.01)
2009 - CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, Joba Chamberlain

Looking at the '96 squad's stats on paper, they're far from dominate (only Pettitte won more than 15). Granted, Cone missed most of the regular season with a brain aneurysm (as will A.J. Burnett, but with a strained ego), and their postseason stats, aside from Key and Cone, were pedestrian. But they had depth and somehow managed to win games.

Closer, Bullpen

1996 - John Wettland (43 SV, 2.83 ERA), Mariano Rivera (8-3, 2.09 ERA), Jeff Nelson (4-4, 4.36 ERA), Bob Wickman (4-1, 4.67 ERA)
2009 - Mariano Rivera, Damaso Marte, Jose Veras, Brian Bruney

If the 2009 team eventually moves Joba to the pen, it immediately becomes dominate. The misconception about 1996 is that they had an amazing bullpen, overall. Not true. Besides Wettland, Mo, Wickman and Nelson, no other regular arm had an ERA under 5.00. Belide dat.

- - - -

Pitting these two teams head-to-head, it seems like the new version would absolutely crush the '96 team. There's more power, a deeper rotation, and a bullpen coming off a better year. But the new Yankees have failed to mesh, thus far, and adding three more stars could mean even more trouble.

Success in baseball is performing under pressure. That's what the '96 Yankees did, as underdogs throughout most of the postseason. I'm feeling sentimental, so I'll take '96, until the new guys can show me otherwise and overcome adversity.

Who ya Got?

BallHype: hype it up!


AK-47 said...

I'm having some trouble getting past the fact that both Mariano Duncan and Cano have those posed cloudy-sky-background shots.

Upstate Underdog said...

I know Brosius wasn't on the '96 team, but he was on the '98-'00 teams. 3 rings to A-Rods 0. Crazy how things like that work.