some hypothetical 2011 Yankee lineups using the recently released 2011 Bill James projections, and this afternoon we'll take a look at some of James' pitching projections.
In the first table we'll look at the Yankees' rotation with Ivan Nova as well as the Yankees' four primary relievers that we know will be back (James doesn't have projections for the injured Alfredo Aceves and Damaso Marte), and the second table will look at the Yankees' hypothetical 2011 rotation with Cliff Lee.
CC Sabathia essentially projects to do the same thing he's done in first two seasons in pinstripes, which is of course great news; while James has Andy Pettitte's 2011 season ERA basically regressing to his career (3.88), which is to be expected. The biggest eye-opener here is the James projection for Phil Hughes, which sees Phil improving from his solid 2010 campaign (4.19 ERA; 4.25 FIP) to what would be a very impressive 3.56 ERA (3.76 FIP) year. James also is apparently willing to completely discount A.J. Burnett's horrendous 2010, with a projection (4.01 ERA; 4.05 FIP) pretty much in line with his career (3.99 ERA; 3.93 FIP). I'm pretty sure multiple spontaneous parades would break out if Burnett rebounded to pitch to a 4.01 ERA over 191 innings in 2011. Interestingly, James has all four of the aforementioned starters improving on their 2010 K/BB rates, which would be a very welcome occurrence were it to happen.
The only slightly negative projection among the starting rotation is for Ivan Nova, though James only has him throwing 80 innings so it's possible the numbers listed in the above table are for Nova the reliever. If that is indeed the case, they're pretty uninspiring for a reliever. If they're for Nova the starter, they're passable for a 5th starter, but far from ideal, as the WHIP is way too high and the K/BB too low.
Mariano Rivera once again projects to have an amazing season (with an even better FIP), while Joba Chamberlain actually projects worse peripheral-wise but with an improved ERA. David Robertson projects to be better across the board; while James seems to hate Boone Logan, who he sees bloating his ERA by nearly a run and a half along with a decline in peripheral stats.
Here's the 2011 rotation with Cliff Lee. Unsurprisingly, Lee's projected for a decline in his numbers across the board, but when your 2010 is as good as his was, no one's going to expect him to reproduce it in his age 32 season. Regardless, his 2011 projection is still fantastic -- you can't quibble with a 3.50 ERA and 3.41 FIP from your number-two starter, especially in the AL East. As a frame of reference, Felix Hernandez is projected at 3.31 ERA (3.30 FIP); Jon Lester at a 3.53 ERA (3.45 FIP); Zack Greinke at a 3.57 ERA (3.31 FIP); and Francisco Liriano at 3.69 ERA (3.34 FIP).
Brian Cashman apparently flew down to Arkansas for a tete-a-tete with Lee today, and we can only hope that he did so in a gold-plated armored Brink's airplane with seats made out of $100-dollar bills.