It would seem Brian Cashman has a few logical and obvious goals in mind for the offense in 2010. Take pitches, get on base, drive in runs. It's a popular offensive sentiment and one which the Yankees caught onto in the mid 90's, helping to catapult the team into a dynasty.

In 2009 the Yankees saw 3.88 pitches as a team, on average, in an at bat. That was good for fourth in baseball (the Red Sox were second for those interested).

It is unlikely at this point a player like Robinson Cano will change his approach too drastically as he heads into the middle of his prime, and the rest of the Yankee regulars from last season are pretty much veterans, so there are only a few necessary names to compare when trying to gauge where the 2010 Yankees will stand in this respect.

Last year, the following players had the following P/PA:

Johnny Damon: 4.06

If he is not the regular outfielder this season (though my hunch tell me it's becoming more and more likely he will be) he will be replaced by Brett Gardner primarily, with the potential for an unknown additional player to platoon.

For now we'll include just Gardner: 4.05.

A virtual wash in patience.

The number two hitter this year could be newly acquired Nick Johnson. We know Damon's rate out of the two hole last year, but Johnson takes an astounding 4.23 pitches per at bat. Compare that to the former DH, Hideki Matsui (3.93.)

With Melky Cabrera traded and Curtis Granderson new to the outfield, the Yankees gave away a 3.87 rate and took in a 4.06 number. Then, of course, we need to factor in a healthier, and a complete season from Alex Rodriguez, who takes 3.97 P/PA. In other words, among many things such as speed and OBP, Brian Cashman seems to want to improve patience to the lineup as well.

Meanwhile, looking at the big picture and if your thing is Sabermetrics, New York gained a 3.4 win share (WAR) from Curtis Granderson (as in Grandy is worth 3.4 extra wins compared to the average centerfielder) in a down year in Detroit's ballpark with Detroit's lineup, an offense which produced 172 runs fewer than the Yankees in 2009. Win shares take many things into account, including offense and fielding, along with the player's position. Keep an eye on whether or not the Yankees choose to increase Granderson's value both defensively and as a player by placing him in left field.

New York also gained 2.4 wins from Nick Johnson and in a platoon situation last year, Brett Gardner was able to post 2.1 WAR as well. 


Between those three Yankees, you get a total net of 7.9 wins to a team.  For those interested, Johnny Damon posted a solid 3.0 WAR last year and Hideki Matsui was 2.4, making him identically valuable to Nick Johnson. The difference is Johnson will now only be a DH this season, which works to his strengths as he was a below average first baseman. Staying off the diamond should also improve Johnson's questionable health track record.

The beauty of the 2010 Yankees is they don't have many areas where they can decline on offense. Curtis Granderson is coming off a career worst year but all outside variables favor him this season. Nick Johnson, as I mentioned, is playing only to his strengths. A full year of Brett Gardner would greatly improve the Yankees' outfield defense, a defense which could save up to 30 runs next season if aligned with Gardner in it, but if the Yankees go the Damon route they would likely try to risk gaining extra depth and offense. Gardner in the field saves runs, at the bat it's unclear what kind of long-term impact he could have, but he has gotten better with more experience at every level of his career, including the majors where he was greatly improved in 2009 compared to a brief stint in 2008.Therefore, Gardner, Granderson and Johnson all stand to only improve next season, and barring unforeseen injury, that should help the Yankees.

While Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon were important parts to the Yankees' offense last year (particularly in the playoffs) it's unclear if they could improve upon 2009's stats. That's why you saw Matsui get let go and the Yankees unwilling to give Damon more than a few million dollars if he returns. Brian Cashman is savvy enough to understand Damon and Matsui are likely to decline at this stage in their career. As I said, however, adding Damon's bat could make the Yankees' lineup downright relentless and scary.

Including the new additions to the Bronx Bombers, the health of A-Rod, the expected improvement in Cano's bat, and taking into account the losses of Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon (possibly) and the aging of Jorge Posada (I can't count Jeter until he actually declines) the Yankees should still see about one extra win and 15 more runs from 2009. By adding Damon, that number could improve to 2-4 wins and 20-30 extra runs gained (including defensive liability). In other words, with either decision the Yankees make, their offensive additions and subtractions should still equal an overall addition.

And none of that, again, includes the extra month of A-Rod (and the subsequent effect on someone like Teixeira) or the aging of Cano, which I believe will outweigh any loss in numbers to someone like Jorge Posada.

Then we have the addition of Javier Vazquez. He had an unrealistic 6.6 WAR ranking last season as the ace of the Braves. By switching leagues and coming back to the Bronx, that number is likely to decline, but comparing him to Sergio Mitre, the full season of Joba Chamberlain (post innings limit) and Chad Gaudin, his primary competitions, Vazquez could still give the Yankees four or five extra wins.

On the other side we have another year in Andy Pettitte's arm, and the aforementioned hangover to Pettitte, Sabathia and Burnett from pitching into November, but as I've said, I don't expect that to be a factor with this particular pitching staff because they are conditioned for it. Really what it comes down to his will 200 sure innings of Vazquez plus the combination of Joba Chamberlain with no innings limit and conditioned for at least 180 innings without tiring (as he did in August and beyond last season) along with Phil Hughes compared to a combination of Chamberlain/Gaudin/Mitre be better?

I would say that's a guaranteed yes, and again, avoiding injury, the Yankees' rotation doesn't stand much chance to decline. Vazquez is still in his prime and in a walk year, Pettitte is a proven commodity, Sabathia is a proven horse, Burnett has been healthy now for two years in a row and Joba as a five starter, another year older and without the same endurance issues but facing direct competition from a list of names (Gaudin, Mitre, Aceves, Hughes), should mean nothing but upside to the rotation. With four pitchers likely to throw over 190 innings and another one conditioned for over 180, the bullpen should benefit as well.

It's not likely the Yankees will stay as healthy as they did in 2009 two years in a row. Despite losing Xavier Nady, Damaso Marte and Chien-Ming Wang for most of the season, and A-Rod and Posada for a period of time, New York didn't run into many injury problems all season. 

I wouldn't count on that again, but the depth of Gaudin, Mitre a year removed from Tommy John, Vazquez added to the rotation, and if the Yankees added Damon to the outfield mix, along with all of the great bullpen arms in the majors and minors, should help keep this Yankees' team a powerhouse even with a normal amount of injury.

It's likely the biggest controversy surrounding the Yankees' offseason is just a win-win waiting to happen, but if you believe Nady is a sign, New York would be wise to get Damon at the right price.

Either way, I could see this team realistically scoring around 950 runs next season.....And tiring out dozens of starters in the process. With a much more solid rotation and the same basic bullpen with depth (the key to the makeover last year) and with a healthier Marte, Mitre, A-Rod and the reliability of Phil Hughes as depth to either the bullpen or rotation, this year's Yankees team should be even  better than in 2009 with or without Johnny Damon.

And there shouldn't be much of an argument.