Could This Be No. 27 for the Pin Stripers? Good Utility May Solve Some Woes

Jared HoodContributor IMarch 31, 2009

SARASOTA, FL - MARCH 1:  Infielder Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees celebrates a home run by outfielder Brett Gardner #11 against the Cincinnati Reds March 1, 2009 at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

The other night, I was taking in one of the fine micro-brewed spirits known in Colorado at a local bar. If there's one thing I don't miss about New York, it's their piss poor selection of micro-brew beers.

Anyways, ESPN was on one of the TVs and they were discussing Brett Gardner's selection as the go-to center fielder, placing Melky in the utility spot.

Aside from the obvious smart choice to keep Damon out of center field, with his weak child-like throwing arm, what Girardi and Cashman also managed to do was give that position two well balanced options.

As I was discussing this news with a buddy, a "Mile-High" Red Sox fan decided to chime in. (Just a side note: it seems that ever since the Red Sox beat the Rockies in the '07 World Series, there seems to be an ever increasing amount of Red Sox fans who are more than willing to betray their home team in favor of the current dynastic trend. Sure to never happen on the east coast!)

You Love Them!

You Hate Them!

But you cannot be indifferent!

After about an hour discussing how much he hated the Yankees, and how much I hated the Red Sox, we finally conceded, and agreed I might add, that 2009 already belongs to the Yankees and the season has not even started.

2003 brought the Yanks last World Series Appearance, 2000 brought their last win. Will 2009 bring their 27th?

The Yanks have certainly dominated sports writing and telecasts since last December when the acquisitions of C.C. and Burnett broke headlines.

And as of late, other than the frequent drama of what A-Rod is doing all the way down to his choice of toilet paper, the Yanks have continued to make headlines based on their pitching selections and utility choices.

Never mind, Teixeira and the already grand headline of opening one of the most beautiful stadiums in baseball history.

What does all of this mean right now? Not much except fodder for entertaining preseason news. But to the hardcore Yankees fans, it spells out a lot more than just headlines. And for those who hate the Yankees, it spells out even more...well, reasons to hate the Yankees.

For the first time since the early 21st century the Yanks might actually be serious post season contenders, and for the first time since the '90s they have a roster that contains not only heavy hitting, and heavily-paid veterans, but also a well balanced group of young utility position players and pitchers.

For what seems like the first time in 10 years, the Yanks are focusing on their bullpen as much, if not more than their offense. Not to discount their offense, how can you? But what the Bombers have lacked in seasons of late are reliable utility relief players and pitchers, as witnessed with last seasons injury ridden blunder.

This year we'll see Gardner contend to take the place of Dimaggio and Mantle in the center-field spot. (Calm down! I'm not alluding to any notion that anyone can take their place) And if he ends up in a slump, no worries, Melky is a fairly consistent hitter and great outfielder.

We'll see Cody Ransom take the place of A-Rod at third until at least May, and he's been pretty impressive so far in his preseason outings. But most importantly, we'll see an insanely talented bullpen with starters C.C. who has an unhittable sinker, Burnett and Hughes, along with the continued reliability of Wang and Pettitte.

I'm a little concerned with how their going to handle their relief system, they already sent Tomko back to Triple-A, and he put up only one run in 15 innings of Grapefruit league ball. But I have faith in Edwar Ramirez and Damaso Marte, and of course there's Mariano!

The Yankees have made some changes this year, and taken risks, but it seems those risks have been paying off.

If, hypothetically the old men of their clubs like Posada, Jeter, Matsui and Rivera end up on the DL, they seem to be taking steps to ensure they have reliability, both offensively and defensively to get the job done in their places.

As we've seen with Tampa Bay and Colorado in the last two seasons, sometimes the youngsters get the job done. And if you've got a good setup of Veterans and Rookies with a ton of energy, the big W tends to come your way.

Maybe the Yanks are finally getting the picture that large salaries may afford you talented Vets, but well-rounded young utility players can fill spots with reliability if they get enough time to train.

Will 2009 bring No. 27 to the Bombers and a ring to A-Rod and Matsui? Who knows, but either way the Yankees have already done something they failed to do for me last year; impress!