Five Things That Need to Happen for the Yankees to Repeat
The Yankees are fresh off a successful 2009 campaign and are looking to defend their title this season. While they have kept the core of the team intact, many changes have been made to their roster.
They have lost the World Series MVP Hideki Matsui and a valuable outfielder in Johnny Damon.
They traded away starting center fielder Melky Cabrera and pieces of their bullpen to acquire Curtis Granderson and Javier Vazquez.
They have signed two new outfielders (Randy Winn and Marcus Thames) and a designated hitter (Nick Johnson).
They are much younger and better defensively than last year's team. But they have also lost a good amount of power in their lineup and experience at the plate.
Things have to turn around for New York if they want to defend their title. They are currently second in the AL East, and their weaknesses are starting to become obvious.
The Yankees have a number of things they need to fix in order to defend their title.
Joba Chamberlain and the rest of the Yankees bullpen looked good at the beginning of the season but have started to appear lackluster and vulnerable.
Mariano Rivera has blown two saves in the past three games, something that has been unheard of for years.
The Yankees' starting pitching has been solid this year, but the bullpen has blown leads all season long.
If the Yankees do not fix their bullpen problem from within their farm system or trade for a solid reliever, they could jeopardize their chances at repeating.
2. Javier Vazquez
Javier Vazquez was acquired from the Atlanta Braves over the offseason. He was expected to be the best No. 4 starter in the league.
He is fresh off a career year, averaging a 2.87 ERA and a record of 15-10. This was very promising in the eyes of Yankees fans for their No. 4 starter (behind CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettitte).
Yet thus far in the season Vazquez has been moved to the bullpen, replaced by Sergio Mitre, and is averaging a 8.01 ERA and a record of 1-4 as a starter.
If Vazquez can pick up some momentum and pitch like the pitcher he really is, the Yankees have a much better chance of repeating.
The Yankees will not get by in the playoffs this year in a three-man rotation like they did last season. The pitchers will not be able to pitch on short rest like they did last season. Javier Vazquez will be essential to the Yankees' success in the playoffs.
3. Curtis Granderson
Curtis Granderson was acquired from the Detroit Tigers as a center fielder who could do it all—one who the Yankees have been longing for for a long time.
Granderson can hit for power, steal bases, play defense, and lead the back end of the lineup. If Granderson comes off the DL playing well, it could help the Yankees take over first place in the AL East.
Granderson could help fill in the gap left by Damon and Matsui's departures from the Bronx. Both Matsui and Damon were power hitters in the lineup.
Their presence in the lineup will not be missed if Granderson finishes out the season and the postseason on a good note.
4. Alex Rodriguez
Last year's playoff run was the first time in A-Rod's career that he has performed in the postseason. A-Rod finally came out of the darkness and exploded in the playoffs, leading the Yankees to the World Series with a few crucial at-bats.
A-Rod started the year slow but is heating up. His presence as the cleanup hitter in the lineup will be essential if the Yankees want to return to the World Series.
A-Rod fuels the rest of the lineup and affects the performance of all those around him. He must play well in order for the Yankees to return to the World Series.
5. CC Sabathia
Sabathia is the ace of the rotation—the pitcher who will pitch the biggest games of the season and the postseason. Therefore it only makes sense that the fate of the team lies in his hands.
Sabathia must perform at a high level for the Yankees to do well. Sabathia proved he could pitch well on short rest and will have to do the same thing this year if the Yankees expect another World Series ring.