Why the Yankees Won't Be Going to the World Series: An AL East Preview

Gregory PearsollContributor IFebruary 17, 2009

Many media sources have been giving the Yankees a lot of credit for spending boatloads of money, a total of $423.5 million during the offseason, signing CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Mark Teixeira. Because of these signings, many are already predicting a World Series for the Yankees.

However, there are many problems with that theory. Other teams, such as the Red Sox, the Rays, and our own Toronto Blue Jays, have not been considered in this equation.

On the topic of the Blue Jays, expectations are quite low heading into the season, but like the 2007 season, things can be quite surprising.

Here's a review of the AL East heading into the 2009 season, starting with the Yankees:


New York Yankees

WHIP: Walks+Hits/Innings Pitched



CC Sabathia 6-8, 3.83 ERA, 1.23 WHIP(CLE)  11-2, 1.65 ERA, 1.00 WHIP(MIL)

Chien-Ming-Wang 8-2, 4.07 ERA, 1.32 WHIP

AJ Burnett 18-10, 4.07 ERA 1.34 WHIP

Andy Pettitte 14-14, 4.54 ERA, 1.41 WHIP

Joba Chamberlain 4-3, 2.60 ERA 1.26 WHIP (spent most of '08 in bullpen)

While everyone is so excited for CC Sabathia, expecting him to win 20-plus games, it is hard to say if that will be possible. When Sabathia played in Cleveland in the AL last year, he struggled at the beginning of the 2008 season with numbers that are not typical of an ace pitcher.

Overworking him in Milwaukee may lead to possible decreased velocity and arm troubles this season.

AJ Burnett has a history of arm troubles, and traditionally has only done well in a contract year. An ERA over four may not be a good sign, especially with the lackluster defense the Yankees play.

When he was in Toronto, he had the strong defensive gloves of John McDonald, Scott Rolen, Lyle Overbay, and Aaron Hill (when healthy, although Joe Inglett and Marco Scutaro played well too).

He will not have the same luxury in New York, with the below-average gloves of A-Rod, Jeter, and Cano, along with a poor defensive outfield of Damon/Gardner/Nady/Swisher.

Joba Chamberlain is likely to be on an innings limit, and may have some issues with control being in the starting rotation, as he has traditionally been a reliever for the Yankees. With a violent delivery, there could be potential for arm trouble to develop.

Wang is coming off a foot injury, and there are questions about whether he will be able to repeat previous success, considering his higher ERA and low strikeout totals. He will need a good defensive infield in order to be successful.

Others in the system include Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, and Alfredo Aceves, but there are questions about their success in the majors. Phil Hughes, who was heavily hyped pre-2007, has so far been a disappointment.


Relief Pitchers

CP Mariano Rivera (if healthy)

RP Brian Bruney (R)

RP Jose Veras (R)

RP Edwar Ramirez (R)

RP Damaso Marte (L)

RP One of Phil Coke (L), Johnathon Albaledejo (R), or David Robertson (R)

LRP Dan Giese OR Alfredo Aceves

One of the main things the Yankees will need this season is a long reliever, especially if Andy Pettitte or Joba Chamberlain struggle during the season. The Yankees lacked in this area last year and were forced to use Ross Ohlendorf in a role he wasn't intended for.

It is also important that the Yanks carry more than one lefty in the bullpen. Damaso Marte struggled with the Yankees, having been in the NL for so long, and Phil Coke's unproven.


Starting Nine

LF Damon

SS Jeter

3B Rodriguez

1B Teixeira

DH Matsui

2B Cano

RF Nady

C Posada (if healthy; if not, Jose Molina will take this spot)

CF Gardner or Cabrera

Still many issues in the starting nine, as the Yankees lack a bona fide MLB ready CF, forcing them to use AAA players Melky Cabrera or Brett Gardner as placeholders until Austin Jackson is ready.

Please hope that Posada is healthy. If he is not healthy, this starting lineup could unravel quickly, due to Molina's poor bat.

And here's why the Yankees need to be concerned about Posada's health.



IF Cody Ransom

C Jose Molina

OF Nick Swisher

OF Melky Cabrera

It is likely they will carry Melky Cabrera, as he is out of options.

If Posada is unable to catch, a third catcher may have to be called up, which could force them to a) put Cabrera in CF or on waivers, sending Gardner to AAA, or B) force a trade of Nady or Swisher.

An injury to A-Rod, Jeter or Cano could be dangerous, as the Yankees lack depth on the bench and in the high minors for the positions of SS, 2B and 3B. Cody Ransom is no more than a AAA player anyway, who should be playing in Scranton and not in New York.

REVIEW: While the Yankees look strong, a lack of depth in the infield and in AAA could be a problem. In addition, there are issues of age, especially to players such as Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Johnny Damon, and Derek Jeter, which could cause their production to decline.


Prediction: 85-90 wins, out of playoffs


NEXT: Boston Red Sox


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