Why the Yankees Are The Best Team in The AL East

Justin GreenContributor IFebruary 17, 2009

There are a lot of articles floating around written by jealous and angry fans of other teams in the AL or disgruntled Yankee haters.  Well, I've got news for all the finger pointers and fist shakers out there that are praying and crossing their fingers in hopes that the mighty Yankees stumble and fall. 

The Yankees are going to be just fine. 

This media circus surrounding what Alex Rodriguez did as a Ranger, the friendship issues in the clubhouse, the tell all book about the Torre years, and the pressure to succeed when so much has been put on the line—this all is nothing short of history repeating itself. 

Maris and Mantle had media probes about their ailing friendship. The year Reggie Jackson was brought in and the Yankees were in a must-win situation, and even when the Yankees had to deal with the trials and tribulations of marital problems for players or drug abuse from players like Darryl Strawberry, and clubhouse ordeals like Ruben Rivera stealing Jeter's stuff are just a few things the Yanks endured. 

There is nothing in this offseason that presents a unique or original scenario for the Yankees to deal with.

The New York Yankees have been in the spotlight of sports media since the genre was invented.  The Bronx is called the biggest stage in sports for a reason.  There are several things that put this team make them championship-caliber.

First and foremost, injuries:  The Yankees had injuries cripple their rotation last year.  Wang was the ace at the beginning of the season and he was out for the season after just 15 starts.  Andy Pettitte started the season on the DL last season.  The list of Yankees that were on the DL last year includes almost everybody but Billy Crystal. 

Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain, Brian Bruney, Phil Hughes, Jeff Karstens, Jonathan Albaladejo, Carl Pavano, Chris Britton, and Dan Geise are all pitchers that played for the Yankees last season that all spent time on the DL. 

Then, of course, there is the Fact that Hideki Matsui, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Wilson Betimit, and Johnny Damon all spent time on the DL as well.  With all of those injuries the Yankees were still only six games out of the wild card, eight games out of their division, and there were only six teams in all of baseball with a better record than the Yankees. 

Considering all that happened in the way of things going wrong, I would say that the odds are considerably in favor of the Yankees finishing better this year.   Even if AJ Burnett goes down, the Yankees will still be more solid top to bottom than the were the entire season last year.

Secondly, the Yankees are hungry.  They missed the playoffs last year and that makes them a very dangerous team.  The veterans are trying to prove to that they are not past their prime, the rookies and youngsters are trying to build a legacy, Joe Girardi is out to prove that he can put together a winner, and the stars like Sabathia, Teixeira, and Rodriguez are trying to win a ring. 

Lastly, the pressure is all in the right spots.  The young players are in positions to relax and build there way to their full potential.  The most pressure being applied is to players like Jeter, A-Rod, and Sabathia.  These players are young enough still to perform at a top level yet mature enough to handle the pressures of having bad games and the ups and downs of the games. 

There is healthy competition at the No. 5 spot for the rotation between young underachievers like Kennedy, Hughes, and Aceves. This will keep Pettitte at his best and will also take pressure off of Girardi when it comes to Joba's innings cap. 

There is also healthy competition for centerfield and rightfield.  Melky and Gardner are both trying to turn the corner and both offer unique abilities to the spot, whoever comes out ahead should be a great addition to the lineup.  Swisher and Nady are fighting for rightfield.  This is good because Swisher has upper level talent and needs to be pushed and Nady is a consistent player that offers a bit of maturity to the outfield and batting lineup. 

The Yankees may not have all the pieces of the puzzle but, looking forward as a Yankee fan there is a lot more to be excited about this year than there has been in a while.  So like I said, the Yankees are going to be just fine.