The second half of the 2009 baseball season has been a good one for the New York Yankees. They are currently in 9.5 games ahead of their rivals the Boston Red Sox and have already clinched their division. Playing the waiting game, the Yankees are waiting to find out who they will play in round one of the playoffs.
Will it be Minnesota or Detroit? The Yankees wont openly admit who they would rather play but die hard Yankee fans know it is Minnesota. The Yankees swept the Twins during the 2009 regular season.
Yes, the Yankees have had a good regular season but everyone knows that the playoffs are an entire different game. Here are the key players I believe must contribute in order to win a 27th title.
1. A.J. Burnett A.J. has proved in the past that he can perform in the playoffs but lately has not been pitching up to par. Jorge Posada will most likely be the starting catcher for the Yankees during the playoffs. During the season, it appeared that Posada and Burnett did not communicate well. These two players must communicate if the Yankees want to win.
2. Johnny Damon Johnny Damon has proved this season that he can still hit a 95 mph fastball and put a change-up into the seats. There is only one problem, his fielding. Johnny has seemed like a high school outfielder on a number of occasions this year.
He makes me nervous sometimes especially during day games when the sun is a factor for fly balls. Every team knows now that he has a below average arm and that could be a liability for the Yankees.
3. Robinson Cano Possibly one of the hottest hitters in the league this season, Cano has played a big part in getting the Yankees to the playoffs. He must continue to hit well and make good plays at second base. Cano has proven this season that he has a very strong arm and he could play a big part in winning for the Yankees.
4. Nick Swisher Swisher is a vital part of the Yankees lineup. He is an average hitter and average fielder, but he brings something different to the team. Swisher brings a good attitude. It seemed that in the past couple of seasons the Yankees were not having fun and everything was tense.
Listening to Nick Swisher in postgame interviews leads me to believe he lightens up the atmosphere around the clubhouse. He seems like the type of player that could keep the team in high spirits if they happen to lose one or two games to open a series.
Remember, Swisher started out the season on fire. His hitting at the beginning of the season won numerous games for his team.
5. Brett Gardner If the Yankees were to spend a lot of money this off season I hope it would be to have Rod Carew coach Brett Gardner on bunting. Gardner has tons of speed but rarely attempts a good drag bunt.
Possibly the fastest player in the playoffs this season, he could be a late game weapon. Suppose Hideki Matsui who has bad knees starts off the ninth with a double to left field. Gardner would be my man to score the winning run on that single up the middle. Gardner could be this post season's Dave Roberts when it comes to stealing bases.