New York Yankees' Five Biggest Questions for 2009
The scariest thing about the Yankees off-season is they gave up no young prospects to add big names. This is a huge departure from the philosophy that Cashman has used since 2000.
Even with the Big free agent signings, This year seemed to be the first time the Yankees and Cashman have truly adopted the build from within mantra since the mid-'90s. Adding three of the biggest name free agents is huge adding that much fire power without having to give up a single prospect is bigger.
But the Yankees are without questions this season, some questions old, some new, but they will all need to be answered if the Yankees want to return to form and become the dominate franchise they were just a decade ago.
So here are the five biggest questions that need to be answered if the Yanks are going to win it all in 2009.
5. The Bench
As good as the starting lineup is there is not much bench help on the bench. Is Nick Swisher the answer in both the infield and outfield utility guy. The Yanks better hope so or get another proven outfielder.
Swisher is a good infield utility option and he can play outfield, but to rely on him as a do everything utility player is expecting too much. If there are many injuries he is going to wear down and playing him in too many different positions is going to affect his ability to settle in.
The outfield is four deep but expect Hideki Matsui to be moved to DH as much as possible he is getting old and has been injury prone, they are going to want to keep him off the filed as much as possible.
The outfield still has four players but only two proven in Nady and Damon and Damon has been hurt as much as he has been healthy the past two years. Cabrera can be good but is two up and down to rely on him being there game in and game out.
Bret Gardner has the potential to be the next great Yankee outfielder but the Yankees would be much better served if they added another veteran outfielder.
There are two big questions for Alex Rodriguez. One, will he finally show up in the postseason? Two, how does he handle two more big stars joining the team?
I am not going to bore you with rehashing the old reasons/arguments/excuses either for or against the disappearances in the post season. However if Tex, Burnett, CC and others can step up and take pressure off of him, he may very well excel.
Wanting it too much is the only real explanation for his disappearance when he gets to the post season. If the others can put him at at bats where the pressure is not on him early in the postseason, it may be what he needs to relax and get started swinging the bat like only he can in the playoffs as well.
3. The Bullpen
The biggest mystery to me has been why did the Yankees ignore one of their biggest weaknesses from last year in this offseason's spending spree. If you can drop 400 million plus to upgrade the team what is another 40 more to nab Francisco Rodriquez?
It could easily be argued he was much more needed than A.J. Burnett. But even without additions to the bullpen it may be bolstered from young starting pitchers looking for a new home on the Yankee's roster.
The starting rotation should be Sabathia, Burnett, Wang, Pettitte and Chamberlain. This leaves Hughes and Kennedy without a spot in the rotation, surely they will be tried out in the bullpen. However, both had trouble last year in pressure situation being in the bullpen, they will see more pressure.
Plus with the number of second inning meltdowns last year by both, are you going to be able to trust them to pitch more than one inning if needed.
Marte remains the lone left handed option in the bullpen and a reliable setup man needs to step up. Marte is the best candidate but with him being the only left-hander means he will be more needed as a specialist in the big games.
The other thing Yankees need to start watching for is the decline of Mr. Automatic. Rivera turns 40 in November and even he is going to be affected by father time in the near future.
So, if his decline does not start this year expect it soon and the Yankees, need another dominate closer to step up or join the team, maybe not this year but soon.
2. New Yankees handling the pressure.
This one will be short because this horse's skeleton has already been beaten so many times. But many players who have excelled in other places have fizzled in New York. So, do not be surprised if one of the big three free agents folds under the pressure in New York.
1. Leaving the house that Ruth built
Those of you who believe in the baseball gods, know that they cannot be happy that the House of Babe was abandoned. ...If the Baseball gods ever had a reason to curse the Yankees, this is it.
The Yankees should be nervous about leaving the home where all 26 of their championships were won. It is like an old retired couple leaving the home were they raised all their children to finally move to that dream house they always talked about.
The new house will never be what the old house was, it will never hold the memories or tradition of the house they spent the best years of their lives.
The dream house is never quite home to the retired couple and never a home to anyone until they pass away and someone else comes along and buys the house and lives the best part of their lives in it creating new memories that will be irreplaceable.
That is exactly what the Yankees need to do is make this place special to the next generation of fans that has not grown up with the old Yankee Stadium.
The New Stadium will never feel like home to Jeter or Rivera, Berra or Matingly, but if the Yankees can start winning and create new memories it will become a true home to the younger Yankees and the next generation of Yankee fans.
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