If the New York Yankees do not make the trade for Mike Cameron and do not sign either Manny Ramirez or Mark Teixeira, their starting lineup for 2009 will look something like this.
Catcher - Jorge Posada
First Base - Nick Swisher
Second Base - Robinson Cano
Third Base - Alex Rodriguez
Shortstop - Derek Jeter
Left Field - Johnny Damon
Centerfield - Brett Gardner/Melky Cabrera
Right Field - Xavier Nady
Designated Hitter - Hideki Matsui
Considering that no one is certain that Jorge Posada can come back from shoulder surgery to catch 130 games or more, Posada may see time at DH as Jose Molina takes over behind the plate.
The best case scenario for a Yankee batting order would seem to be as follows:
Damon - LF
Jeter - SS
Nady - RF
A-Rod - 3B
Posada - C
Matsui - DH
Swisher - 1B
Cano - 2B
Gardner - CF
Depending on production, Cano could be seen sliding up to the five or six hole. Brian Cashman said this yesterday in an interview with Mike Francesa on WFAN.
But if Posada has to DH and Molina is in the lineup, the order becomes much weaker with Swisher or Cano probably moving into the six hole and Molina hitting eighth.
In 2008, the Yankees were seventh in the American League in runs scored, averaging 4.87 runs per game.
And as of right now, they are not going to re-sign Jason Giambi or Bobby Abreu.
Giambi had 96 RBI in '08 and scored 68 runs.
Abreu had 100 RBI and scored 100 runs.
It is difficult to see how the lineups discussed above can make up the 200+ runs they are losing with the loss of Giambi and Abreu.
Damon had a very good year offensively, but he was troubled again with some nagging injuries, including his legs. He probably plays older than his 36 years.
Derek Jeter will turn 35 during the upcoming season. Although he still had almost 200 hits in '08, he was on the disabled list for part of the '08 year. It is inevitable at some point that his offense will begin to decline.
Jorge Posada comes off an injury-shortened season. He is now measured by the spectacular numbers he put up in 2007. But no one can expect the 38 year old catcher/DH to produce again as he did two years ago.
Nick Swisher hit .219 for the White Sox in 2008 and comes to the toughest division in baseball where he will have to play more games against the very good pitching staffs in Boston and Tampa Bay and Roy Halladay in Toronto.
Brett Gardner is an unproven commodity on offense. His speed on the base paths is an element the Yankees desperately need. But he has not shown that he can be a consistent hitter in the bigs.
Melky Cabrera slumped badly in '08 and seemed to lose his concentration. He is playing well in winter ball in the Dominican Republic, but it is completely unclear if he will be the answer in center field.
The addition of C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett to the Yankee pitching staff should mean that opposing teams will score fewer runs. But Sabathia has a life time ERA in the American League of 3.84.
Burnett has a lifetime ERA of 3.81. 2008 was his best season as far as wins was concerned. But his ERA actually rose to 4.07 last year.
Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain actually have better ERAs than Sabathia and Burnett. (This discounts Sabathia's amazing ERA with the Brewers in 2008.)
The fifth starter is still uncertain. It may be Andy Pettitte or Phil Hughes, both of whom have to be question marks as far as quality work in the No. 5 slot.
Closer, Mariano Rivera is also coming off shoulder surgery this fall. There is promise in the bullpen with Damaso Marte, Brian Bruney, Phil Coke and others.
So even if Yankee pitching is better in 2009, it is difficult to see how they will score as many runs as they did in 2008, which most fans saw as a dismal year.
It also must be considered that playing Johnny Damon in left field does not improve the defense. Bobby Abreu was a better right fielder than Nady will be and Nady was better in left than Damon will be.
Nick Swisher is not a natural first baseman and unproven over a full season at that position.
Posada will have to prove that he can handle the duties behind the plate after his surgery.
So Yankees pitching will not have the support of an improved defense. The defense looks to be worse than in 2008.
If the Yankees fail to bring in another big bat to the middle of their lineup, all of their starting pitchers will have to out perform their history in order for the Yankees to be successful.