Looking Ahead at the 2009 New York Yankees

Vito CalamitoContributor IAugust 22, 2008

Now, I'm not a writer. I found this site through a dear friend of mine and saw a lot of great writing and a lot of great ideas on sports. I decided I would join and try and contribute my thoughts and ideas. As a diehard Yankee fan, I have a lot to say.

Well, we've entered the last stretch of the 2008 season, and the Yanks find themselves in a position that they haven't been in since the summer of 1995. They are over 10 games out in the AL East and six games out of the wild card, as of Aug. 22.

The Yanks of 1995 were able to accomplish a remarkable feat that year by going on an improbably run at the end of the season to capture their first ever wild-card berth and their first playoff appearance since the early 1980s.

The Yankees of 2008 see themselves in a similar situation, but this writer is afraid that they don't have that kind of run in them, and they might not have a playoff berth for the first time since the 1995 season.

Let's face it Yankee fans, the Yanks just aren't what they used to be. In the 1990s, it was a team of heart and soul, everyone played to win and personal numbers didn't seem to matter. Everything just clicked.

These Yankees aren't the same at all. There's too much ego, and too many different personalitites with huge contracts. We don't have Donny Baseball, we have Jason Giambi (.250, 24HR, 73RBI). Even with Donny at the end of his career—and with a bad back—he still hit .288!

This just isn't the same team. There are no warriors like O'Neill. Posada is out for the year, and Jeter cannot bear the entire load himself. For the first time in well over a decade, I find myself saying, "Wait 'til next year."

There will be a new stadium, a fresh start, and there needs to be a new look to this Yankee ballclub.

For starters, let's start with the starters! Wang was truly missed this year, and his average 19 wins a season was a big absence from the rotation. Heck, even being out for more than half the season, he is still third on the team in wins with eight! Wang will be back next year, and that is a big boost already.

With the year Mussina is having, you really have to take the chance on him again and re-sign him to at least a one-year deal. Pettitte is always up in the air with retirement, but for a  hypothetical situation, let's say he wants to return for one year to play in the new stadium. That gives you three solid starters right there. Throw in Joba at the top of the rotation, and that's four.

Now, do you know who you need to lead this solid staff? The Yanks need to sign CC Sabathia. He will be a free agent after this year, and though I think it will be a hard to pry him away from the National League, where he is perfect this year, I believe the Yanks will give him the $$ he is looking for. They are probably the only team that could.

We need him to lead our staff. Wang has always been better suited for a No. 2 or 3 starter, and with CC at the helm, I don't see how we can go wrong. There are a number of sizable contracts coming off the payroll next year, and we should definitely go after the burly lefty.

As far as hitters are concerned, you need to let Giambi go after his contract is up. There is no need for a 38-year-old, left-handed power hitter that strikes out more than he hits the ball. And that's not even mentioning his injuries.

Bring up or bring in someone younger, maybe Teixeira? Who knows, but that would require two very large contracts and that might not make financial, or even baseball, sense.

A starter is more important for this team right now. There will be someone out there that will suffice. Bobby Abreu's contract is up after this year as well, and with the addition of Nady, and having Damon under contract for next season, he is sort of expendable. We'll just have to see about that.

Pavano's contract is up, too, and he will try and pitch this last month-and-a-half for another major-league contract when he starts on Aug. 23. That will be another hefty, wasted salary off the books—the first being Giambi's.

So here is this writer's prediction for the 25-man roster for the 2009 New York Yankees.


Starting Pitchers: C.C. Sabathia LHP, Joba Chamberlain RHP, Chien-Ming Wang RHP, Mike Mussina RHP, Andy Pettitte LHP/Phil Hughes RHP/Sidney Ponson RHP (preferably Andy, but a healthy Hughes will do, and Ponson hasn't been half bad, outside of last night).


Starting Lineup: Damon CF/LF/DH, Jeter SS, Nady RF, A-Rod 3B, Matsui DH/LF, Posada C, Cano 2B, CF or 1B (whomever they may be)


Bullpen: Rivera CL, Veras, Ramirez, Bruney, Marte, and whoever else can help.


Bench: Molina C, and there's a better man than Betemit.


Everything is pretty much up in the air with certain people, but one thing is for sure: We need the last piece of the puzzle. Sabathia will definitely help, but he is not the entire solution. It is not whom you get, it also about personality. Everyone in that clubhouse needs to have the same mentality, and that is hard to find.

I just hope that we are not in for another 1980s Yankees. A team full of big players with little results.

As for this season, who knows what will happen. Next season should be a season of new beginnings for the New York Yankees. Let us open the new stadium with a bang.


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