Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The New York Yankees Season Preview

Since the turn of the decade, the stated mission of the New York Yankees every year is get to the World Series and win it. In the continuing war with the Red Sox for AL East supremacy, they stumbled from the gate badly, but stormed back in the second half to win a wild card spot.

However, despite spending well over $200 million dollars in payroll in 2008, acquiring Roger Clemens, and legendary year by Alex Rodriguez, the Bronx Bombers were promptly dismissed in the first round of the AL Division Series by the upstart Cleveland Indians. Despite all of this, new stars came up from the lower levels which included Ian Kennedy, Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain who brought excitement in the last few months of the season.

As the season ended in 2007, the Yankees went through upheaval as revered Joe Torre was summarily dismissed as the manager as he rejected a one year contract, and in his place is Joe Girardi, a hot commodity in the off-season, who last managed in Florida.

The biggest change came at top as George Steinbrenner handed over the reigns of the team to sons, Hal and Hank. As we have seen with Hank, the apple does not fall far from the tree.

Off the field, enigmatic third baseman Alex Rodriguez was rumored to heading for greener pastures somewhere else, but he got his payday anyway from the Yankees. They re-signed mainstays Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera for record money, and as well made youngster Robinson Cano into a very rich man. Meanwhile, Roger Clemens will probably head into the sunset due to his involvement in the Mitchell Report and the storm clouds may hang over Andy Pettitte, as he’s living in a soap opera due to being implicated in the document, along with being Clemens’ close friend.

Well, the Yankees for 2008 will once again be an offensive juggernaut; however, their key guys such as Jeter, Posada, Hideki Matusi, Jason Giambi and Mike Mussina are getting older and will be counted on at least keeping up their production from year’s past.

The starting rotation will probably be a mix of the young and old, as Chien Ming-Wang will probably again be the ace (he was 19-7 in 2007 with a 3.70); Mussina who is close to ending his illustrious career and will rely on guile, finesse and experience to win; alas, youngsters, Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes will get their shot to make names for themselves, and the other starter will be the venerable veteran, Andy Pettitte (15-9, 4.05 ERA in ’07)

With the rotation possibly set, there are two wild cards possible and they are Carl Pavano and Kei Igawa. Both men have been a bust, and will more than likely not be in the rotation.

Considering the high profile of the Yankees, Igawa and Pavano have been nothing short of massive failures, and the media has had a field day with them – especially with Carl. However, both men may figure into things if one the projected starters go down.

The bullpen in 2008 will have several new faces; however, an old reliable (Rivera) and an electric youngster (Chamberlain) will be expected to finish off their opponents. Right now, it is unkown if Chamberlain will start at some point or remain in the bullpen throughout the year; therefore, it looks like the Yankees will do their best to protect their stud.

Also joining Chamberlain and Rivera in the bullpen are Kyle Farnsworth, LaTroy Hawkins, as well, expect Chris Britton, Brian Bruney, and others from their farm system to fight over a potential spot.

The everyday starting lineup remains pretty much the same one from summer of 2007 and it will be expected to produce plenty of firepower and score tons of runs. Loaded with plenty of talent, perennial All-Stars and future Hall of Famers, the batting order of the Yankees should be again one of the league’s best.

It’s unknown who will start off at the top of the lineup; however, Johnny Damon will most likely hit in the leadoff spot after a sub-par season where he battled injury.

Derek Jeter, who batted .322 last season, will bat second, and will serve as table setter for Alex Rodriguez. The third baseman, blessed with all five tools, despite his awesome numbers (.314, 54, 156) in the regular season, fell flat in the playoffs. Needless to say, the Yankees will rely on his bat to get them to the Promised Land once again. The greatest all-around player of our generation has to produce in the playoffs and win in the World Series before he can get the 800 pound gorilla known as public perception off his back.

Rounding up the batting order will Jorge Posada, who had a career year in ’07 (.338, 20, 90) will stay a dangerous presence in the lineup although may never match his numbers again that he had last season; Jason Giambi, a deadly hitter who can still hit for power, but not for average; Hideki Matsui, who had another solid season (.285, 25, 103), on-base machine Bobby Abreu (.283, 16, 101) and uber-youngster, Robinson Cano who after a slow start hit .306 and earned himself a nice contract in the off-season.

The bench will have Melky Cabrera, who should get plenty of playing time and was the subject of trade rumors during the winter, as well as longtime young Shelley Duncan who may see time at first and in the outfield. Wilson Betemit should be a capable infield backup with some pop in his bat, and finally with Jason Giambi perhaps serving as the designated hitter, new additions Morgan Ensburg and Shelley Duncan will battle for time at first base.

Needless to say, Yankee brass and their fans expect big things from their players in 2007. With the highest payroll in the game, a new Steinbrenner at the helm, along with the Red Sox ending up victorious in 2007, comes huge and perhaps sometimes insane expectations, but the players in Bronx know now it’s the only way it can be.

1 comment:

Jason Mac said...

Nice write-up buddy. One thing I would add - you will not and I repeat, WILL NOT see Carl Pavano pitch in a major league game for the Yankees ever again.

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