Key Acquisitions: LaTroy Hawkins – RP
Strengths: The Yankees obvious strength lies in their ability to produce runs.
In 2007, they were able to stay in the race for the division title based almost solely upon the fact they could get runners across the plate and get them across frequently. In division play, New York led the league at 5.86 runs per game, and were equally effective producing runs both at home and on the road.
Despite some rocky periods last season, New York also has some quality veteran pitching. Andy Pettitte is a steady figure in the rotation and Chien-Ming Wang is consistent, if not spectacular in his performance.
Weaknesses: Last season, the Yankees did not have a true, consistent stopper in their rotation. Roger Clemens performed OK, but showed his age at times, as did Mike Mussina, who battled injuries most of the year. Pettitte was good down the stretch, but had some trouble spots too.
This season should be better for the pinstripes, but their starting rotation is certainly not overwhelming when compared to Boston or Toronto. Another major question mark is the bullpen. Hawkins should help, but he's basically filling a hole if Joba Chamberlain moves into the starting rotation.
Summary: New York is always in the race and that should not change under new skipper Joe Girardi. However, it remains to be seen how his hard-nosed approach will go over with a largely veteran ball club.
What is almost certain is that the Yankees will produce enough runs to stay in the hunt. They also have some talented young pitchers who could push them past Boston.
Phil Hughes should be more consistent in his second year and Joba Chamberlain will try to translate his 2007 performance as a reliever into starting rotation consistency. Another possible addition to the rotation if the Yankees decide to leave Chamberlain in the bullpen is the talented right-hander Ian Kennedy.
Prediction: Second Place AL East
1B: Jason Giambi
2B: Robinson Cano
3B: Alex Rodriguez
SS: Derek Jeter
C: Jorge Posada
LF: Johnny Damon
RF: Bobby Abreu
CF: Melky Cabrera
DH: Hideki Matsui
Key Players & Trends
In his nine 2007 division starts, AL East rivals averaged 6.67 runs per game against Mike Mussina. The Yankee's AL East rivals also scored five or more runs seven times in those nine starts.
The Yankees were 4-5 in those games, and the average game score was 12.88 (3.28 runs over the 2007 league average).
In 2007, night games the Yankees averaged 6.02 runs per game. They have averaged 5.75 runs in night games over the last three seasons. Also, the Yankees have averaged 5.62 runs in the month of April over the last five seasons.