It has been a hell of a long season for Yankee fans. It started off with the A-Rod opting-out fiasco. Soon after was the "firing" of Joe Torre following last season's World Series. Then came the Mitchell Report and the accusations of Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte's steroid use.
End the tumultuous off-season... Start the tumultuous season.
Opening day came and opening day left, all without a game being played. And to think I skipped class to watch it on TV. April overall was awful, finishing the month at 14-15 in part due to the winless efforts from Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy and the injuries to Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Jorge Posada. April showers led to... more mediocrity as the Yanks finished June 44-39 and third in the division. Despite showing some hope in July, they could not win consistently enough to make the playoffs. I'm not saying this season is over (Yogi wouldn't), but I found myself secretly rooting for the Rays to win this weekend just so the Red Sox wouldn't win the division (and if you're still holding out hope the Yanks make it you're just crazy).
With this year all but finished, what can Yankee fans look forward to for next season? With an inconsistent offense and horrible pitching in the latter end of the rotation, there is plenty to improve upon in order to bring a return to the playoffs.
First off, the true ace of this staff Chien-Ming Wang needs to be healthy all season. This one is out of Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman's control but may be the single most important thing for them heading into next season. I would love for Cashman to sign C.C. Sabthia but I do not believe he would come to the Big Apple. He lives in California so it would be ideal for him to sign with a west-coast team. Also, his love of hitting will most likely keep him in the National League. If Sabathia decides not to come to NY or Cashman does not seek him then fellow Brewer Ben Sheets is next in line. Unfortunately, I do not think Cashman will reel him in so Wang is the best the Yankees will have.
Following Moose in the rotation needs to be Joba Chamberlain. There is no logical reason that Joba will not be in the rotation to start next season after watching him perform the way he did. The third spot belongs to Mike Mussina. He deserves to be re-signed after pitching as superb as he did this season. While the soon-to-be-40 righthander will once again be denied his quest for 20 victories, he has rebounded from an awful 2007 campaign, and April 2008, to provide the pillar of excellence and consistency that the young members of the rotation can look to for support.
In my opinion the next spot should belong to Jon Garland. Garland has not been excellent since his 2005 World Series year with the Chicago White Sox but has been solid since then. If the Yankees are unable to sign the two Brewers above, Garland should be their next option. He should be better than Phil Hughes/Ian Kennedy/Alfredo Aceves and I believe he will also provide a better season than current Yankee Andy Pettitte would. Garland is not yet 30 and could still improve.
Phil Hughes should grab the last spot in the rotation over Kennedy and Aceves. Hughes needs to pitch well in his last few starts this season and a strong spring can't hurt. Hughes needs to start off fresh and should win a spot in spring training. Aceves would be my first option once one of those guys goes down. Aceves has pitched excellent in his first few innings in the majors and could be a major surprise next year.
I'll save the rest for another day.