Grading the Champs
As baseball season begins, all eyes are on the Yankees attempting to answer the ageless question.
Are the defending champs strong enough to repeat?
Let’s take a look:
The Yankees lead the league in both home-runs, with 244 and runs scored with 900 in 2009. Even with Matsui and Damon’s bats gone, the Yanks bats are still the best.
Reasons being that Granderson will smash it at home at least facing righties; Arod is available all season; Cano will hit behind the Captain in the two spot; Johnson will fare well enough as a regular DH; and the mainstays are back again. This is still just as frightening a line-up to face.
Winn and Granderson love to steal bases, an improvement in overall speed
Granderson is a real upgrade in the outfield. He is young, and his spirit will display right when mixed with the older guys. Gardner is better defensively than Damon, and he is fast as they come. Gardner will have to be accomplished all the time as Randy Winn, Jamie Hoffman and a recently signed Marcus Thames will be glad to take the responsibility for their own if Gardner slips. This kind-of competition, that keeps players fresh through the long-term. It made Gardner better last season.
The Yankee infield is Jeter, Arod, Tex, Cano and Posada/Cervelli. Need I say more?
CC, AJ and Andy are not the question, as the three can stand their own. The point is Javier Vazquez, who in 2009 dominated playing on a struggling Braves team, otherwise might have been the NL Cy Young winner. Vazquez’s last stint in pinstripes, in 2004 is one Yankee fans do not want to be reminded off. He will be third or fourth in the rotation, so less weight on his shoulders, to aide for a successful round two.
Rivera is the best closer still, and either Hughes or Joba will be celebrated in the eighth.
The Yanks can lack here, and they do. The depth off the counter is not impressive but if the starters are healthy, each will play 150+ games. This is not a perfect world, so banking on no injuries is uncertain.
Pena is not as reliable as Harriston Jr. in the utility role. Pena is young, and spring training is the time to iron out his kinks.
Girardi and company, stay the same staff as 2009, which seems to work. Girardi has gradually relaxed, a crash that should stay. If only Joe could not refer to his trusty binder in the dugout and leave it in the locker room, he might prevent any over managing. Middle-inning, musical chairs in the post-season are particularly unsettling to witness.
Hopefully, these rumored ‘Hughes Rules’ are untrue, just let the boys pitch.
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