AL East Preview: New York Yankees

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AL East Preview: New York Yankees

After a disappointing 2008, where the Yankees missed the postseason for the first time since 1993, the Yankees will be looking to rebound in 2009.

To facilitate a recovery, they gave huge dollars to Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett.

Here's how they stack up:

 

Starting Rotation

SP C.C. Sabathia

SP A.J. Burnett

SP Chien-Ming-Wang

SP Andy Pettitte

SP Joba Chamberlain

While C.C. Sabathia is a great pitcher, there are still questions about his effectiveness after the 2008 NLDS, where he struggled against a strong Philadelphia team. In addition, he is only replacing Mike Mussina's 20 wins from last year, and whether a return to the AL was a good thing.

Wang is coming off of a foot injury, making his effectiveness questionable compared to before the injury.

In addition, there are health questions regarding A.J. Burnett, as history has shown he has ended up on the DL every year after a contract year.

Andy Pettitte is getting older—will he be consistent, or did the Yankees waste a rotation spot on him?

Joba Chamberlain is also a question mark, as he had injury problems moving to the rotation from the bullpen. It is questionable whether the best fit for him is a starter, set-up man or future closer.

In the minors, there's Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Alfredo Aceves, and others. However, it is uncertain whether Hughes is ready for the big leagues. Ian Kennedy and Alfredo Aceves are still a mystery, as neither pitcher has had the experience or success in the Majors.

 

Bullpen

CP Mariano Rivera

RP Brian Bruney

RP Jose Veras

RP Damaso Marte

RP Edwar Ramirez

Still up in the air: Dan Giese, Phil Coke, David Robertson, Humberto Sanchez, Alfredo Aceves, Johnathon Albaladejo.

Five of the bullpen spots are certain- but the long relief and one of the middle relief spots still remain uncertain. In addition, there is the issue on Mariano Rivera's health and whether Joba Chamberlain ends up a starter or reliever.

Any of the arms that are still undecided may end up being AAA insurance.

With a strong bullpen, it should be quite helpful to the Yankees' success.

 

STARTING NINE

LF Damon

SS Jeter

3B Rodriguez

1B Teixeira

RF Nady or RF Swisher

DH Matsui

C Posada

2B Cano

CF Gardner

As of right now, the starting lineup for the Yankees looks like it will be able to score 900 runs or more, if healthy. However, with concerns about Matsui's knees and Posada's shoulder, there is no guarantee whether this lineup will work.

If Posada is unable to catch, it will force Matsui to the bench, and hurt the Yankees offense with the poor hitting abilities of Jose Molina or another catcher, such as Kevin Cash or Fransisco Cervelli.

 

BENCH

C Molina

SS Ransom or SS Berroa

OF/1B Swisher

CF Cabrera (out of Minor League Options- likely to be carried)

There is a lack of depth on the Yankees bench, especially with the lack of a second middle infielder or a suitable replacement in case Jeter or Rodriguez get injured.

Jose Molina is a great defensive catcher, but not a strong bat.

Cody Ransom and Angel Berroa, who are fighting for the back-up job to Jeter, are no more than career minor-league players, who are on the Yankees because they traded Alberto Gonzales, a more suitable option, to the Washington Nationals.

Unfortunately, the Yankees have no other suitable options in AAA that are any more than just automatic outs.

Unless Swisher or Nady is traded, it will be difficult in a situation if Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter or both get injured, with a lack of depth at both of these positions here and in Scranton Wilkes-Barre. Had they kept Wilson Betemit, they may have been in a better position.

Melky Cabrera will likely make the team, as he is out of Minor League options, where the Yankees may lose him if he does not make the Opening Day roster. There are questions about his bat, after a disappointing 2008.

In addition, there is still the issue whether Posada will stay a catcher. If not, the Yankees will be forced to carry a third catcher such as Kevin Cash or Fransisco Cervelli, which could handcuff them.

 

OVERALL

One of the stronger teams in the AL East, but a lack of bench depth, Posada's health and issues in their starting rotation may make or break their season.

Projection: 87 wins, out of playoffs

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