This is my first article for Fan IQ...take it easy on my guys and gals!!
When the 2009 MLB season ended, the New York Yankees secured their 27th World Championship. Will 2010 bring the Yankees their 28th? Only the season will tell. I know that there are a lot of you who hate the Yankees because you think they "buy" championships, but I don't believe that (see Yankees 1979-1995). That is for another poll, though. This article will deal with the Yankees prospects for returning to win their 28th World Series title. I'll try to break them down, offensively and defensively.
Let's start with the starting pitching staff. The Yankees starting rotation looks good...ON PAPER. With C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett anchoring the 1 and 2 positions, they appear to be solid. With Andy Pettite as the number 3 starter, the Yankees appear to have a very solid, consistent top of the rotation. The number 4 and 5 starters, though, may cast some doubt. The 4th spot appears to be Javier Vazquez, a pickup during the off season. Vazquez had moderate success in his first stint with the Yankees, in 2004, going 14-10. He appears to be a lock for the 4th spot. The 5th spot, however, is a spot that appears to be up for grabs. The front runners are Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes, who both started and relieved last year. Personally, I think they BOTH should be in the bullpen this year. Alfredo Aceves, Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin could fill the 5th starter's role. Chamberlain and Hughes were too good coming out of the pen last year to make them start again. Grade: Above Average
The Yankees bullpen has been a source of strength for the past 15 years. The games BEST closer (sorry, Trevor Hoffman) is Mariano Rivera. He basically throws one pitch-a cut fastball-that has been nearly unhittable since 1996. When Hughes and/or Chamberlain setting him up, the game gets turned into a Little League game-6 innings. Damaso Marte is the left-handed specialist. Other capable relievers are Jonathan Albaladejo, David Robertson and Edwar Ramirez. Grade: Excellent with Hughes and Chamberlain in the pen, Above Average with only one of them in the pen.
Moving on to the infield, the Yankees have one of the better ones in the Major Leagues. Mark Teixiera at first base solved the Jason Giambi fielding problems of 2002-2008. The reacquisition of Nick Johnson is questionable because he tends to get hurt a lot, but he may be able to spell
The catching position is probably one of the Yankees' weaker links. Jorge Posada is a gritty competitor who has a good bat. Posada has been a Yankee for a long time, but his age and the position don't often work well together. Posada has had shoulder problems over the past few years, and while not as bad as Jason Varitek of the Red Sox, runners have stolen a lot off of Posada. His backup, Francisco Cervelli, is an excellent defensive catcher, but his bat is suspect. The rap on him has been that he can't hit. He DID hit pretty well in several stints last year when Posada was hurt. An upgrade here would help. Grade: Average
The outfield will be bolstered by the addition of Curtis Granderson from
As for the offense…what is not to like? Derek Jeter will lead off, as he did in 2009. In 2009, Damon filled the two hole. Taking Damon’s place in 2010 will be either Curtis Granderson or, possibly, Nick Johnson. Teixiera will bat third, A-Rod fourth and either Posada or Johnson 5th. Joe Girardi may take the sixth through ninth positions and rotate Cano,
The final piece of this “puzzle” is the manager, Joe Girardi. I loved Joe as a player, but as a manager, I think some of his decisions are questionable. With the lineup he has, he should have no trouble. Girardi sometimes thinks too much for his own good. At times, he doesn’t have the feel for the game. There were several times last year that he would have a relief pitcher retire the first two batters with ease, then yank him because of a “more favorable” matchup. When it backfired, and the Yankees lost, Joe just said “That’s baseball”. I think that Girardi needs to learn a little better “feel” for the game. Grade: Average
All in all, I think the Yankees have an excellent chance of repeating. Losing Damon’s bat and leadership may hurt, but overall the Yankees should be OK. LET’S PLAY BALL!!!