Times have changed for the Bronx bombers; instead of competing with just the Boston Red Sox, now the Tampa Bay Rays have become a force to reckon with in the east. Both Boston and Tampa got the best of the Yankees last year.
The biggest Yankee flaw has always been their pitching rotation; after opening their pocketbooks this off season and signing both C.C. Sabathia and AJ Burnett, the Yankees are on the road to have the dominant rotation in the division.
Joining the Yankees as their No. 1 starter, C.C Sabathia has always been an outstanding pitcher. In the last three seasons, he has had a total of 48 wins and won the CY young award in 2007. Getting off to a bad start in the 2008 season, he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers where he excelled, wrecking havoc on the National League.
Now, instead of battling against the Yankees, he will be in the spotlight as their true ace. He comes into New York with 17-10 record and a 2.70 ERA.
Next we have New York's second big pitching purchase, AJ Burnett. The Yankees have seen him quite a bit since he has been playing for the Toronto Blue Jays the last couple of seasons.
Whether it was coming off his free agency at the end of the season or it was just a good year, AJ Burnett had his best year for the Blue Jays in the 2008 season with a 18-10 record and 4.07 ERA. The Yankees were quick to pick him up as a starter for the No. 2 position.
For the No. 3 spot, we have an old favorite, Chien-Ming Wang, who comes off of a season ending injury he acquired rounding the bases. He ended his season with a broken foot with an 8-2 record with a 4.07 ERA. Though last season was disappointing for most of the Yankees pitching staff, Wang has been a great pitcher for the Yankees.
Wang had two 19 game seasons in both 2006 and 2007. He has always been a reliable pitcher; not the strike out force New York fans were looking for, but he pitched for the situation. Wang has always been able to get the right pitch in to get the double play and end the inning.
The fun doesn't stop there: after being re-signed by the Yankees this off season, Andy Pettitte will return for one more season. Both Andy Pettitte and Mike Mussina proved that youth was no substitute for experience after the melt down of both Phil Hughs and Ian Kennedy.
Both Mussina and Pettitte racked up 34 wins between them to keep the Yankees competitive last season. All though his last three seasons haven't been up to his usual level with a 14-14 record and a 4.54 ERA, Pettitte assured Yankees fans that "there is still a lot left in the tank."
For the last spot in the rotation, we have one of my favorite new pitchers, Joba Chamberlain. There was a lot of speculation last season whether he would start or stay in the bullpen. He ended up doing a little of both.
After the breakdown of Ian Kennedy, Chamberlain was taken out of the bullpen and finally became a starter. He went 4-3 with a 2.52 ERA before getting hurt. Chamberlain returned to the bull pen after his injury and finished the season with 14 strikeouts in 11.1 innings.
New York's rotation could arguably be the best in the division and rivals that of most teams in the American league. The Yankees have tried having a power lineup, but lineups don't win games if they can’t score runs. Now with the two new pitching additions, the Yankees are showing they mean business.
Even with the reloaded rotation, the Yankees know it'll be no cakewalk to the World Series. Determined to keep pace with their long time rivals, the Boston Red Sox have acquired Brad Penny and John Smoltz.
These two will be added on to the rotation with Josh Beckett, John Lester, Tim Wakefield, and Daisuke Matsuzaka. These two lineups ensure every game between the two is going to be a pitcher's duel and low scoring game.
Could the Yankees rotation be the best on paper? Paper really doesn't cut it when it comes game time; just ask the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers had the best team on paper at the beginning of the season and ended up being horrible.
Time will only tell if the changes made and the money spent by Brian Cashman really will pay off. As of right now, the Yankees are eyeing that World Series Trophy and the belief that this rotation will help them get it.