Yankees are a hot topic, but are they a hot bet?

Jul 31, 2008 |

Greg Gamble is a Chicago-based freelance writer who also writes a daily betting blog  

Even following news Jorge Posada was finito, the vibe around New York still had the Bombers gradually overtaking the Rays to join Boston in the postseason.  

When they opened nicely out of the break and snagged a quality hitter, and added a big-name backstop, it only fueled all the chatter, which means Vegas is now ready to let the public overvalue the Pinstripes once again.

As for my Yanks investment outlook, I look at two things: team trends and player predictions

Team Trends

• With the Yankees only a game over .500 on the road and still usually the heavy favorite, there’s no value taking on the extra juice, especially considering the starting staff has overachieved thru the first half.

• Regardless of the venue, New York is just two games over .500 under the lights while winning 62 percent of their games during the day. Just like my Grandpa, they get tired after 4:00 supper.

• The AARP Yanks are sporting a sub-.500 record away from the NBA’s favorite smoking flavor: grass.  Scratch those few games off the yellow pad boys.

PLAYER TRENDS

LF Johnny Damon

J.D. hasn’t hit over .285 in New York and with an arm that couldn’t throw out Kirstie Alley, he’s been a major liability in the field. But after consistently hitting near .310 all year and having more opportunities to DH, I expect his play to continue, but doubt it justifies an ATS play.

SS  Derek Jeter

The Yanks captain might be showing some age as he struggles to keep his average above .280 (hasn’t hit below .291 since 1996) and remains on pace for single-digit home runs for the first time in his career.  While I do believe he still has the balls in the clutch (and with the young hotties) without the firepower around him, he’s a slightly stronger David Eckstein.

RF  Bobby Abreu

Opening the game with three 34-year olds hasn’t been as dangerous since the Mitchell Report broke. While his .280 average isn’t cumbersome, sitting in the 3-hole with an OBP 50 points below his career average and a 17 home run pace isn’t waking up The Babe.

3B  Alex Rodriguez

A-Rod just can’t get away from the scrutiny surrounding his alleged relationship with Madonna. Even with numbers as dangerous as they come, eventually I expect the weight of the world to fall on the man everyone can’t wait to hate. While his power numbers may stay consistent, I expect the average to dip as the race tightens.

DH  Hideki Matsui / Xavier Nady

I doubt a rushed-back Matsui can handle the stick to hit .300 and another leg/foot injury won’t aid his power numbers. Obviously Nady would play left field, which would enable another 30-something to DH, but he needs to continue his fringe corner-OF All-Star numbers if the Yanks hope to cover more than 55 percent.

1B  Jason Giambi / Richie Sexson

I believe Giambi has spent after a decent softball slugging start. While the lefty/righty platoon sounds nice, Jeremy’s brother is out of gas and Sexton’s simply awful.
 
2B  Robinson Cano

After a dreadful start, Cano is hitting liners everywhere and probably needs a stronger place in the lineup to utilize his abilities. That said, I expect him to be the hottest hitter in the final months and to combine with Pudge to make the back-end of the lineup dangerous again.

Pudge Rodriguez

This acquisition enables a proven hitter to back up Cano. Pudge really has the same veteran worth as Posada, minus the power numbers. It's a solid move, but I expect the dollar expectations to rise as the Big Apple-balls swell, making it a wash in my eyes.

CF  Melky Cabrera

While still only 23 and in his third full season, the hype already seems to have faded for a starting CF rarely on base (.300 OBP) and lacking much else. Even if he gets hot, he’s still just a rich man’s Skip Shumaker.

SP Joba Chamberlain

While he is spectacular, I can’t see how Joba won’t tire from the midseason change in repertoire and an emotional playoff race the second time around.

SP Mike Mussina

As impressive as the 39 year-old’s ERA and ace-like winning percentage is, the fact is he’s accomplished it while right-handers are hitting .330 off him. After last season’s disaster, it’s tough to see how he continues to strand runners as the year wears on.

SP Andy Pettitte

Extremely close to his career averages, my guess is he doesn’t have to worry about calls from the Rocket about another comeback to keep him consistent.

SP Chien-Ming Wang / Darrell Rasner

Wang already had an ERA above 4.00 before a DL stint that included a foot-cast. As for Rasner, an ERA around 5.00 might be the best he can hope for.

Mariano & Co.

Obviously it's blasphemy to predict Mariano's demise, so I'll simply discuss how a bunch of nobody's have carried middle-relief (Edwar Ramirez, Jose Veras) and Farnsworth avoided his classic meltdowns before being shipped to Detroit.  As for the addition of southpaw Damaso Marte, while he regained his moxy in Pittsburgh after struggling in Chicago, I'm guessing his control problems reappear with the pressure of pitching in the Bronx.  Overall, with the starting staff overextended, my guess is the overachieving bullpen doesn't have the depth to handle the final push.

Read it and weep boys – unless I find Pettite pitching at home or a day game, I can’t see how the overpriced Yankees can serve you much more than juice down the stretch.

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