Here we find ourselves days before the beginning of yet another exciting baseball season.
Opening Day marks the beginning of a long journey for 30 teams that are hungry to become World Series Champions.
While outsiders may have different expectations, each team wants to be the last one standing.
The reigning World Series Champion New York Yankees will look to repeat with a younger, more athletic roster.
Although some of the same faces are still there, others have departed. Hideki Matsui, Melky Cabrera, and Johnny Damon have all found themselves on new teams.
The addition of some new players have people inside and outside of the organization excited for the upcoming season.
Former Yankees Javier Vasquez and Nick Johnson have rejoined the team, and former Tiger Curtis Granderson is ready to make a splash in the Big Apple.
Another interesting storyline will be the roles of Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain.
Hughes will begin the season as the Yankees fifth starter, and Joba finds himself in a familiar role setting up Mariano Rivera.
Nonetheless, here are ten BOLD predictions that will lead the Yankees to their 28th World Championship. Some predictions may seem really bold, others maybe not; comments and disagreements are encouraged!
Robinson Cano is one of the rising stars in Major League Baseball.
After breaking into the league in 2005, Cano has showed off his beautiful and effortless swing, posting a high batting average and showing signs of power.
Cano's power numbers have increased with each year, finishing last season with a career high 25 home runs.
Baseball experts see Cano as a potential 30 home run candidate, especially with the short porch at the new Yankee Stadium.
He has shown a lot of promise this spring training, provoking Joe Girardi to move Cano to hit fifth in the lineup. This will present Cano with more RBI opportunities with the likes of Derek Jeter, Nick Johnson, Mark Teixera, and Alex Rodriguez all hitting ahead of him.
Cano batted in 97 runs in 2007, and 85 in 2009.
With another year of experience and more protection in the lineup around him, I expect Robinson Cano to add upon his career numbers and finish the season with 30 home runs and 100 RBI.
Joba Chamberlain's career so far has been unparalleled to any other big league pitcher.
Joba joined the Yankees in late 2007 as a relief pitcher to help stabilize a then mediocre bullpen leading up to Mariano Rivera.
Since then, we have heard of the "Joba Rules," outlining Joba's innings limits, pitch limits, and days off between appearances.
All of that was supposed to come to an end in 2009, but Joba's poor performances started adding up, and the Yankees made the move late in the season to move him back to the bullpen.
People within the Yankees' organization still believe that Joba can be a starting pitcher, but that will not happen in 2010.
Joba will have the role of setting up Mariano Rivera for the entire season. Although I have always been a supporter of Joba as a starter, I see this as a very intelligent baseball move.
Joba's electrifying fastball and devastating slider are a perfect fit for a setup man.
As a starter, his fastball rarely reached the high 90's and his off-speed pitches appeared sub-par. In the setup role, Joba simply features the fastball and slider that made him a terrifying pitcher to opposing batters.
The side-effects of course will be his excitement that can sometimes come to bite him in the behind, but I expect Joba to be a superior setup man that will solidify the Yankees bullpen on their way to a repeat.
If there is one thing that has eluded C.C. Sabathia during his great career, it is that he has never won 20 games in a season. He was finished with 19 twice, but this year, he will finally eclipse 20 wins.
With a year of experience of playing and living in New York, C.C. will have nothing to worry about but winning games for the Yankees.
Furthermore, the monkey is off his back now that he has a ring, so what is there to worry about?
C.C. is a proven, dominating lefty who is going to feast upon hitters all over the AL and have confidence in a strong bullpen to seal the deal.
Although C.C. did throw a lot of innings last season (266.1 combined in the regular season and post season), his strong body should not let that take away from this season.
He has been known as a work horse his entire career, and that will not end this season. He will once again finish among the top pitchers in the American League and finish with at least 20 wins while competing for the Cy Young Award.
This will be the year that Phil Hughes emerges as the pitcher all Yankees fans have been waiting for.
He spent all of 2009 setting up Mariano Rivera in the bullpen, but he will now be given the opportunity as the fifth man in the Yankees' rotation.
I can remember watching Hughes in the memorable, yet forgettable game against the Texas Rangers in May 2007.
It was just Hughes' second big league start, but he held the Rangers down and no-hit them into the seventh inning. With one out, Hughes pulled his left hamstring and had to leave the game.
That game was one of the few opportunities Yankees fans have seen of Hughes at his full potential.
Wielding a crisp fastball, sharp 12-6 curveball, and deceptive changeup, Hughes has all the tools to be a successful starting pitcher.
Early in his career he was labeled as the next Roger Clemens, talk about expectations.
Now healthy and with a solidified spot in the rotation, I believe that Hughes will shine and show people why he was so highly thought of a few years ago.
He has the attitude and skills you want out of a young star pitcher, especially playing in New York. He will be helped by a veteran rotation that will guide him on his way to a fantastic season.
The casual baseball fan will soon discover the speed and quickness of Brett Gardner.
Gardner is scheduled to platoon in left field with Marcus Thames, with Thames getting most of the time against left handed pitching.
Although Gardner has struggled to consistently hit in the Major Leagues, his ability to bunt for base hits and beat out ground balls will help his chances of getting on base.
When on base, it is inevitable that Gardner will try to swipe any base he can.
In his career, Gardner has 39 stolen bases, and has only been caught six times. Even if Gardner is not stealing bases, the thought is still in the pitcher's mind, taking away from the focus on the present hitter.
Just the thought of Gardner easily stealing a base is terrifying enough for opposing pitchers.
Gardner's aggressiveness will be a key to the success of the Yankees. Girardi loves to utilize his small ball players and Gardner certainly fits that ticket.
Javier Vazquez is back in New York for a second stint with the Yankees. His first trip did not go as well as planned, but both Vazquez and the Yankees hope this time will be different.
Acquired for Melky Cabrera, Vazquez comes back to New York off one of the best seasons of his career.
For the Atlanta Braves last season, Vazquez went 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA. He struck out 238 hitters on his way to a career best 5.41 K/BB ratio.
Vazquez will be the fourth starter in the Yankees' rotation. He has been arguably the Yankees' best pitcher this spring, and everyone is optimistic about him this upcoming season.
Some may not call this such a "bold prediction" but Vazquez has only won 15 games three times in his career, and the American League is much tougher than the National League.
When all is said and done, Vazquez will end the season with at least 15 wins and people inside and outside of the organization will be more than happy about his return to pinstripes.
Our friends at AccuScore predict the Yankees to finish the season with 97 wins. I predict the Yankees to finish with over 100 wins. Last season they finished with 103, and there is no reason they shouldn't match that or increase that total.
The addition of Javier Vazquez in the rotation, Curtis Granderson in CF, and Nick Johnson at DH should significantly improve the Yankees roster. In addition, Joba Chamberlain's efforts setting up Mariano Rivera should improve the bullpen.
The teams the Yankees will have to compete against will be the Red Sox, Rays, Twins, Tigers, Angels, and Mariners.
The Angels finished with 97 wins last season, but with the departure of John Lackey and Chone Figgons, I don't see the Angels hitting that mark again.
The Red Sox also lost Jason Bay, a key piece to their team in 2009. They will struggle to replace him and his presence in their lineup.
When all is said and done, the Yankees will win over 100 games and clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Nick Johnson will face the task of replacing Johnny Damon in the No. 2 hole this season. However, he will benefit from just playing as the DH, as opposed to his years with the Nationals where he played first base.
Johnson brings a high on-base-percentage, a good batting average, and average power to an already impressive lineup.
He will benefit greatly with Jeter leading off ahead of him and Mark Teixera and Alex Rodriguez batting behind him.
One would figure Nick Johnson is gonna get a whole lot of fastballs to hit, as Johnny Damon did in the same role last year.
Injuries have plagued Johnson his entire career. Towards the end of 2006, Johnson broke his femur in a collision for a fly ball. He missed the rest of that season and the entire 2007 season. In 2008, he only appeared in 38 games because of a tear in a ligament in his wrist.
By playing DH, Johnson will avoid any injuries in the field, and stay healthy the entire season, contributing greatly towards the Yankees' World Series Championship.
Curtis Granderson has been one of the biggest Gold Glove snubs in the past few years. It seems he is a human highlight reel with all of the diving catches and home run robberies he has made over the years.
This is the year Granderson will win his first Gold Glove.
Yankees fans fell in love with Melky Cabrera's powerful arm and great catches, but Curtis Granderson will soon make Melky a figment of the past.
Granderson's range is incredible and he will dazzle fans while he plays in the spacious Yankee Stadium centerfield.
While he may not have the arm of Melky Cabrera, Granderson's athleticism more than makes up for it.
Now that he is in New York, Granderson will finally get the recognition for his defense and earn his first Gold Glove Award.
That's right, this is the year. This is the year that arguably the greatest closer of all time wins his first Cy Young Award.
Baseball experts have been puzzled for years as to why Rivera has yet to win the award, but there will be no questions asked this year.
Rivera comes into 2010 off another spectacular season. He finished 2009 with 44 saves and a 1.76 ERA and yet another World Series ring.
With an even better rotation and bullpen, Rivera will have even more opportunities for saves. Even at 40 years of age, Mariano can still get it done.
His devastating cutter continues to razor off opponent's bats and shatter the hopes of teams across the big leagues.
This is the year that Rivera will finally be recognized for his superior pitching and his value to the Yankees. Add another World Series, and a fresh Cy Young Award to the showcase, Mo.