New York Yankees' 2009 Season Preview

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New York Yankees' 2009 Season Preview
(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

*From Protect the Plate

After focusing on a youth movement that ultimately failed in 2008, the Yankees got back to what they do best—spending for high-price free agents.

After falling short of the playoffs for the first time in 15 seasons, the Yankees went out and dominated the free agent market, spending $423.5 million on the top three players available.

With an injection of new stars and another chance for the youngsters to get it right, the Yankees hope to break into the playoffs for the first time under Joe Girardi.

Distractions

The biggest obstacle the Yankees face heading into the season is all the controversy surrounding Alex Rodriguez.

First, it was revealed he failed a drug test in 2003, and then he decided to have surgery on his hip. Just this week, the New York Daily News reported that A-Rod was a client of Kristen Davis, who was the famous "madam" of former Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer.

Still recovering from surgery, Rodriguez is expected to miss up to a month, which may be a good thing at this point. We'll see if he manages to stay out of the news.

 

C.C. & A.J.

The Yankees signed the top two pitchers in the free agent market, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett.

Sabathia, the 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner, split time between Cleveland and Milwaukee, winning 17 games. He ranked second in the majors with 251 strikeouts and led all pitchers in innings (253), starts (35), complete games (10), and shutouts (five).

Burnett won 18 games for Toronto last season and was right behind Sabathia in strikeouts, tallying 231. Sabathia threw more pitches than anyone last year and Burnett led the AL in pitches, which is cause for concern for both hurlers.

Not Going Anywhere

After several teams dropped out of the Mark Teixeira race, the Yankees decided they had enough money left over to improve their lineup even more. 

The two-time Gold Glove first baseman has been dealt at the trade deadline the past two seasons, going from Texas to Atlanta to the Angels. He has a .290 career average and has put together five-straight seasons with at least 30 home runs and 105 RBI.

Man for the Job

Joba Chamberlain was taken from the bullpen to the rotation and back to the 'pen last season, but is expected to be a starter all season this year.

Where ever he ends up, the 23-year-old should be effective. In 61 Major League appearances, 12 of them starts, Chamberlain has a 2.17 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, .217 batting average against, and 11 strikeouts per nine innings.

According to the New York Post, "multiple Yankees officials" said Chamberlain would take over as the closer if anything happened to Mariano Rivera.

Going Grey

Even with the new additions and the departures of Mike Mussina (40), Jason Giambi (38) and Bobby Abreu (35), the Yankees still have a number of more experienced players on their roster.

Closer Mariano Rivera, who is coming off one of his best seasons, is the team's oldest player at 39. He's followed by catcher Jorge Posada (37), Andy Pettitte (36), and Johnny Damon (35).

Plus, both Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui turn 35 in June. Baseball is becoming a young man's game (it could have something to do with the whole steroids thing), but these vets could still turn in solid seasons. Expect at least a few of them to appear on the DL this season, as well.

Other Notes

After winning 19 games in back-to-back seasons, Chien-Ming Wang made just 15 starts in 2008.

Robinson Cano entered the year with a .314 average over his first three seasons, but hit .271 last year.

Xavier Nady will start in right field after hitting .305 with 25 homers and 97 RBI with the Yankees and Pirates last season.

Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner will platoon in center, but Austin Jackson is clearly the future at the position.

Relievers Jose Veras (3.59 ERA) and Edwar Ramirez (3.90 ERA) are both coming off breakout seasons.

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