For the past few weeks I have been watching various baseball shows, and almost all of them are saying the Yankees are the fourth best team in their division, and that when the season ends the only team in the American League East division that the Yankees will be ahead of is the Baltimore Orioles.
Here are my five reason why that couldn't be farther from the truth, and why the Yankees will once again be kings of the A.L. East
5. The Blue Jays Will Choke
The Toronto Blue Jays are quickly learning that playing the Yankees and Red Sox is a lot different than beating up on the A.L. Central, A.L.West, or even the Baltimore Orioles. In six games with the Yankees and Sox, the Blue Jays are a combined 1-5 (the only win coming when their stud Roy Halladay was on the mound).
The Blue Jays have been hit hard with injuries, and if anything happens to Roy their season would be over on-the-spot. The Rays, while still dangerous, are coming back to earth this year. With Kazmir out and in a big funk, that could be a major loss for a team that boasted one of the best young staffs in the league. Although the Yankees have lost their first 5 games against the Red Sox, this doesn't scare me due to the fact that the rivalry will once again heat up, and the two teams will be neck and neck again at the end of September.
4. The Yankees Are Getting Healthy.
A-Rod missed the first 28 games after recovering from hip surgery, and since he returned the Yankees are 11-3. Having A-Rod in the lineup drastically changes the outlook of the lineup, and the effect that it has had on Teixeira is unbelievable.
Hideki Matsui is starting to look better at the plate after a slow start as well. His knee is still giving him problems and prevents him from playing the outfield, but he still has turned a very slow start into respectable numbers.
Last but certainly not least is Brian Bruney. Many people have been saying that Joba NEEDS to go back into the bullpen. I for one am not sold on that theory just yet. If Bruney can come back and stay healthy I believe he can be a good setup man and get the ball to the best closer in baseball history though.
3. Their Great Off-Season Acquisitions.
Lets start with, of course, the big man C.C. Sabathia. Another Yankee that after a slow start looks like he has found his groove in New York, pitching lights out in his last three starts. C.C. has the capability of putting a team on his back and going out there every five days and giving his team a great chance to win.
A.J. Burnett, while off to a slow start, still shows flashes of that brilliance that earned him his big off-season deal. If A.J. does settle down and pitch more like he did last year, the Yankees will have one of the best one-two combinations in the league.
Mark Teixeira has not only been great with the bat as of late, but his glove at first base is such a big improvement from having Giambi at first the past six seasons. Even when his bat wasn't there early in the year the difference he was making in the field was obvious to anyone who has watched the Yankees the last few years. With Teixeira and A-Rod both healthy and hitting, they form one of the most dangerous combinations of three-four hitters in the league.
Last, and certainly not least, is Nick Swisher. Yes I know Swisher is batting only .231 after his amazing start, but the numbers are not the reason why I'm saying Nick Swisher deserves to be mentioned. This deal went under the radar and for good reason. It seemed like a deal between two utility men, (Swisher and Wilson Betemit), however what many people (and even myself) did not see was the effect that he has had in the clubhouse. He has a brought a laid back attitude to a clubhouse that has not had that feeling in a long time.
2. Jeter and Mariano.
All I know is that if my life depended on someone to either save a game, or get a big hit late in the game, I'd be taking one of these two. One reason why I believe the Yankees will eventually beat out the Red Sox for the division is that I don't know who the Red Sox are going to turn to for that big hit.
In the past it has always been Ortiz or Manny. Manny's gone, and Ortiz might as well be gone. Yes I know that Jason Bay hit a two-Run homer to tie it against Mo in Boston, but honestly I do not care about that. It was in April, and I do not believe that Bay, Lowell, and Youkilis can continue to bat the way they have at the beginning of the year.
Papelbon is great, I am not saying anything against him, but I feel that when it comes down to it the Yankees have the two most important guys they need. The greatest closer in the history of baseball, and the captain, No.2 Derek Jeter.
1. Team Chemistry.
For the first time since I can remember the Yankees seem like they are having fun playing the game. Guys like Swisher, Damon, Burnett, and CC have lightened the mood in the clubhouse, and the team seams to be playing better as a result of it. When you look at the Red Sox team that won the World Series in '04, that team had some of the best chemistry I had ever seen. This Yankee team is playing with the same type of fun and energy, and I think this is the biggest reason why they will win the A.L. East.
You can't say enough about how much chemistry does for a team. When a team has good chemistry there isn't pressure on one player to do it all, they have that feeling that if they don't do the job than someone else will pick them up. That is what winning clubs do. It isn't one guy (Roy Halladay), it's all the guys in the clubhouse. They all have to do something to help the team win, and that's what this team has, and it's why they will eventually win the A.L. East crown.