Can the New York Yankees Win the AL East?: Yes They Can, Here Are 26 Reasons Why

Richard NiehContributor IMarch 9, 2009

This is intended as a counter argument to thoughts expressed by Mr. Todd Civin. I think his comments about the Yankees' weaknesses are actually very thorough, and obviously he did some good research and has a very good knowledge about baseball.

However, I really think some of those comments are unfair to what could turn out to be a great Yankees team in 2009.

I would like to apologize to Todd for this article because I borrowed his research. I felt I didn’t need to do additional research because many of his reasons can be explained another way with the same knowledge.

Here are my 26 reasons why Yankees can win the AL East:

1) CC Sabathia will anchor the revamped rotation and with one of the most dangerous lineups (far better than the Brewers and Indians' lineups in 2008) in baseball he can pitch to contact and rely on the bombers to score runs if he gets behind in games.

2) Sabathia, in his late 20s has proved to be a durable and reliable starter. He is rarely injured and hardly goes on DL. He will perform in 2009 for the Yankees.

3) The Yankees have a better bullpen than both the 2008 Brewers and Indians. This will put less stress on Sabathia's arm as his pitch count decreases.

4) CC is a competitor. No matter where he pitches, he will have success.

5) CC is a power pitcher and recorded 460 strike outs in the past two years. Wang and Mussina together had a sum of 399 (158 + 241) in the past two years.

6) In the 1980s Dodgers starter Fernando Valenzuela pitched more than 250 innings in a span of five years, which is far more than CC, who pitched 240 innings for two straight seasons.

7) New addition A.J. Burnett has some of the best stuff in baseball, and should be a good signing—far better than disastrous Carl Pavano. Pavano underperformed on the field and was injury-prone. Should Burnett stay healthy, he will prove a fine addition to the rotation. 

8) Chien-Ming Wang is a great pitcher who endured a lower body injury last season but did not miss time due to arm problems. This means his pitching muscles should have suffered minimum impact from the injury in 2008. He looks great in spring training and he will should return to form in 2009.

9) Andy Pettitte had a 14-14 record last year because of the inconsistency of the Yankee offense, especially in August and September. Prior to August, he was 13-9. He is still capable of winning 15 games and posting a respectable ERA.

10) If Joba Chamberlain is in the bullpen this year he will be one of the greatest middle innings relievers in Major League Baseball.  

11) The Yankees' rotation is more reliable than everyone thinks. CC and AJ both should pitch more than 200 innings; I will bet on it. It is not like freakish incidents happen every day to Wang. He will be very durable as always.

Andy Pettitte has pitched more than 200 innings in four straight years and can provide excellent support at the end of the rotation. With a front four like that, the fifth starter is less important.

12) Burnett's presence should improve Wang’s 2008 record from by several games, and Wang will improve significantly as well. Pettitte may also be helped, but should stay the same. 

13) Mark Teixeira will once again have a monster second half when Alex Rodriguez returns from injury. The Yankees have been playing catch up with the Red Sox from 2004 and look to return to a position of dominance.

14) A-Rod is one of the greatest talents in baseball, no matter what. When he returns from injury nothing should limit his performance.

15) The Yankees' lineup will provide better protection than both Atlanta and the Angels could for Teixeira no matter who is batting behind him. Tex could have a 40 home run season.

16) The loss of Bobby Abreu will be compensated by the addition of Teixeira. In 2008  the Yankees lost games when they scored five runs. This rotation won’t need so much run support to stay in every game.

17)  The center fielder's stats will only improve after the disappointing 2008 season showing by Melky Cabrera.

18) The core players of the Yankees team did not change much from 2008 and 2009. That is always important because of the leadership of the veterans and their wealth of experience.

19) The Yankees will only have positive gain from the catcher’s position because they practically did not have any production from that position in 2008.

20) Matsui looked great in spring training.

21) Robinson Cano will have a better season after a rather disappointing 2008. He should be able to hit .300 like he is capable of.

22) Mariano Rivera is as dominant and consistent a closer as there has ever been. His knowledge of pitching should prolong his career. 

23) Steinbrenner and Cashman finally put some money in a useful manner in Tex and AJ and actually decreased the payroll after last year.

24) One thing about New Yorkers is that they will go watch games at the new stadium no matter what. With the economical struggle, baseball games are probably cheaper entertainment than going to bars, restaurants, and clubs. Tickets sales should improve or stay the same in 2009.

25) The Yanks haven't won a World Series since 2000, so the pressure for winning is decreasing. The surge of the Red Sox and the Rays has put doubt in Yankees fans that their team is still the regular World Series favorite.

26) The Red Sox are weaker and older than ever. Without Manny Ramirez, the lineup is  weaker. Dice-K will not win so many games in 2009 and the rotation is actually quite overrated with many old and unreliable fourth and fifth starters.

The Rays are very similar to the 2006 Tigers with a weaker lineup and bullpen. The rotation is very good but there is no one like Justine Verlander throwing 100 mph. Compared to other competitors in the AL East, the Yankees actually have fewer holes to fill and less uncertainty overall.