Well Yankee fans, what do you think? Do our Yanks have what it takes to recapture the title of the best team in the league in the 2009 season? Well, let's take a look at the team as it stands right now.
Starting Staff Starting Lineup
CC Sabathia Johnny Damon LF
A.J. Burnett Derek Jeter SS
Chien Ming Wang Alex Rodriguez 3B
Joba Chamberlain Jorge Posada C
(Andy Pettitte?, Phil Hughes?) Xavier Nady RF
Bullpen: Nick Swisher 1B
Rivera - CL Hideki Matsui DH
Brian Bruney - SU Brett Gardner/Melky Cabrera CF
Damaso Marte - SU Bench:
Jose Veras Jose Molina C
Edwar Ramirez Cody Ransom IF
Phil Coke Juan Miranda 1B??
Alright, so, I know the it is not complete yet, but let us start with the starting rotation, shall we.
The Yanks brought in the top two free-agent pitchers this winter in aces CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, giving, in my opinion, one of the best one-two punch in baseball, giving us strike out power and domination from both sides of the rubber. Then, you have two-time 19 game winner Wang behind them, who will keep the infielders busy.
Next you have Joba, who can relax a bit by being at the end of the rotation, giving him even more time to develop that lights out stuff of his (remember that July start where he outdueled Josh Beckett @ Fenway!!).
It is more than likely that Andy will return in '09, but if not, you have a handful of guys that can fill that final spot, where it be Hughes, Kennedy, or Aceves. If Pettitte does indeed return, that gives you quite possible the best staff in baseball...on paper.
If you take their win totals from last year and add them up, you get 61*. (I put the * there because Wang was injured, so I bet that total would have been much higher if he had a full year).
That gives you a formidable starting rotation that yo can hopefully pencil all starters in for 10 plus wins, or at least three with 15. Health, I believe, not ability will be the rub if this rotation does not succeed.
The bullpen will look, for the most part the same. We will need people like Bruney and Coke to step it up a bit to be the bridge to Mo, along with Marte. You have two great lefties in there now, something we did not have at the beginning of last season, and that is already a plus.
Maybe adding one more arm wouldn't hurt, but I do not foresee any problems with this area of the team.
Then, you have the Starting Lineup. This is still questionable, if you ask me. There have been many, many question marks when it comes to this. You, of course have the mainstays of Jeter and A-Rod @ SS + 3B respectively, with Damon also in the outfield somewhere, leading off.
When I was putting this lineup together, I then realized just how uncertain everything if after that. Alright, so you can say that Cano will be at 2B, and one would think that he would bounce back to his old offensive self after a disappointing 2008 campaign, but that if of course always a toss up.
You then have a Posada and Matsui coming off injuries that hindered their 2008 seasons. So, can you count on Jorge to catch 120 games, and put up offensive #'s such as the ones he he did back in '07? Will Godzilla's knees hold up, even with the lighter work load, as he figures to play primarily DH?
Will Nick Swisher work out as a full time first baseman? How will Nady due? With the loses of Giambi and especially Abreu, who can protect A-Rod in the lineup, meaning, who the hell will bat third and fifth.
On a normal year, one could say Posada would be fine in the five hole, but the three spot?? Abreu was perfect, just like O'Neill was before him. I don't believe that Nady can provide that protection.
So, the question is, should be heavily pursue Teixeira and/or Manny to add more support for Alex?? With the payroll for next year still under what it once was, should we just go for it?? Personally, I would rather see a 28-year old switch hitting first baseman than a 37-year-old outfielder/DH.
Sure, Manny is still a fierce bat, but is his on and off field antics worth the shot for three-plus years? I personally would take the younger, fresher, and more versatile path myself, but I'm not a Steinbrenner.
You cannot argue with the offensive presence of Ramirez, and there have been reports of the Yanks offering a contract to Manny within the week, with no official offer to Tex just yet.
The Angels, and apparently the Red Sox have withdrawn their offers to Tex, with the offers from his hometown Orioles and Nationals still there. He says he wants to win, as does any player, but will he risk going to two bottom dwellers like those two teams.
This writer believes that the Yanks will swoop in and offer a contract to the switch hitter at the last minute, and I think he wants them to, also. New York is only a few hour commute to Maryland. I also believe that the Sox are bluffing though, and just trying to play chicken with Boras, his agent.
Only time will tell.
The Yanks will hopefully see where they can get with Tex, and hold out on Manny, but if Tex opts for somewhere else, I believe Manny will indeed be a Yankee. I think that is what he wants.
I just don't know if the Yankees really want it. If you look at it, The Yanks need one more big bat to make the lineup fierce once again. As I always say, let's wait and see.
See you in February.