2011 Marcel projections are here! Only, if you're a Yankee fan, they may make you want to crawl into a deep, dark hole somewhere.
Thus far this offseason we've been treated to three projection systems: Bill James' came out first, and as per usual they were considerably optimistic; SG released the first iteration of his CAIRO projections shortly thereafter, and they seemed far more realistic; and I bought The Hardball Times' Oliver forecasts for the first time and found them to be terribly pessimistic. I also recently pre-purchased the 2011 Baseball Prospectus Annual, so the PECOTA projections will be coming later this month, and Dan Szymborski's ZiPS should also be coming out soon, and as far as I know these account for the major projection systems. For now we have Tom Tango's Marcel, which is slightly kinder to the Yankees than Oliver, but not by much.
First, the offense:
Marcel has Derek Jeter with a slight uptick in each triple-slash, but an overall uninspiring .334 wOBA. Poor Nick Swisher -- this is the fourth out of four systems that doesn't believe in his last two years. I guess that awful 2008 is still too fresh of a wound for the various algorithms. Same goes with Robinson Cano -- after two straight seasons of .370-plus wOBA production, Marcel sees him falling all the way from .389 to .354. Once again 2008 seems to be rearing its ugly head. Mark Teixeira's projected for a small increase, but it seems ludicrous that Tex wouldn't be able to at least crack .380 again. As we all recall, Tex's numbers took a huge hit during his massively injury-plagued last six weeks of the season. A healthy Tex that defies the odds and gets off to a good start in 2011 should end up blowing well past a .374 wOBA.
Both Oliver and Marcel seem to think Alex Rodriguez will be a .360s-wOBA hitter again, to which I say "bah," and also "I certainly hope not." Jorge Posada is unsurprisingly being projected to fall off considerably due to age, but I can't see Jorgie falling to a .340 OBP -- even if he loses some pop, he should still get his walks. Curtis Granderson's still got a lot to prove, at least according to Marcel, while the system is also not much of a fan of a Russell Martin comeback. Something tells me if Martin is struggling to wOBA even .320 through the first two months of the season Jesus Montero will be boarding a Bronx-bound train rather quickly. Speaking of Montero, Marcel unfortunately doesn't have a projection for our savior. And Brett Gardner is the third Yankee in the starting lineup to be projected at a .341 wOBA.
Put it all together, and this Marcel-projected 2011 Yankee lineup projects to score 5.26 runs per game. The team as a whole scored 5.3 runs per game last season, so this doesn't seem like a terrible projection, but we're also not including the bench, which is probably going to be pretty bad. Of course, if Montero comes up and Andruw Jones can be Marcus Thames circa last season, then the offense should get a little boost. Additionally, these projections almost unilaterally feel like worst-case scenarios, perhaps with the exception of Jeter. I won't be sold that he's not cooked until they actually start playing games again.
Here's the pitching staff:
CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes are right around where you'd expect them -- every projection system thinks the Franchise will improve upon his 2010, so that's comforting. Marcel has him cutting his HR/9 by 0.19; if he can get it closer to 1.00 we'd have quite the #2 starter on our hands. Marcel sees improvement for A.J. Burnett, but it's still nothing to write home about. This is the second straight system (after Oliver) that loves it some Ivan Nova. However, Marcel's projections are for Nova at 71 innings, so they're pretty worthless as far as trying to predict how he'd do as a starter. Sergio Mitre's numbers also look crazy, except Marcel only has the MeatMan throwing 66 innings. Freddy Garcia's projections are over 144 innings, while Bartolo Colon's numbers are over 66 frames. Neither set of numbers is particularly inspiring, but Garcia's at least lend some credence to him potentially being a serviceable 5th starter.
Nothing terribly surprising in the bullpen, although Marcel thinks every reliever's HR/9 is due for a slight uptick. Marcel is also not much of a fan of Joba Chamberlain, and sees his FIP going up by 0.74 points. Rafael Soriano looks to be about where you'd expect, and Mariano Rivera projects to be very good, but Mo pretty much outperforms his projections every year so I wouldn't put much stock in his numbers. David Robertson and Boone Logan's numbers seem about right, although Marcel sees them losing strikeouts and also walking less batter. Marcel also has Pedro Feliciano walking less men, but the inevitable correction in his absurdly low HR/9 from 2010 will balloon his FIP.
All in all it's not the prettiest picture in the world, but I expect the offense to perform better than these projections would indicate. On the pitching side, unfortunately these projections are not particularly useful for trying to fill the back end of the Yankee rotation in, but if you try to extrapolate the numbers out over a full season in the rotation, I'd imagine Nova still looks superior to the other three. Unfortunately one of that unfortunate triumvirate may be stepping in right behind Nova.
ETA, 8:42am: Moshe pointed out that the Marcel projections are ballpark-independent. I gather that means we can expect a slight uptick in the offensive numbers given the Yankee Stadium effect, but I don't know specifically by how much. I'm surmising by perhaps .005 to .010 points of wOBA, which Moshe more or less agreed with, while also noting that the adjustment could be higher for power lefties.