Hold onto your hats, Yankee haters: New York is likely to reload and repeat as World Series Champions at the sportsbook next season. Most of the key pieces return, while a a few likely additions via free agency and trade will make the Yankees even more imposing. 2010 isn't far away, so let's look at who's staying, who's leaving, and who's coming--including a former Cy Young winner.
Just about everyone who matters, that's who. The Bronx bombers will welcome back their two most dangerous hitters, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. With those two anchoring the lineup the team is bound to score. Of course, they won't be alone. Nick Swisher, whose 29 homers trailed only Teixeira and A-Rod, is locked up for three more seasons. Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter are getting long in the tooth, but both enjoyed excellent campaigns in 2009 and can be counted on for solid contributions again next year.
The pitching staff will remain intact. Ace C.C. Sabathia will be around for many years to come, while A.J. Burnett still has some good, if not inconsistent, baseball ahead of him. The starting rotation could receive a big boost if Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy or Phil Hughes are ready to make another leap in their development. And, of course, the bullpen can still rely on Mariano Rivera.
The lineup faces the loss of two prominent outfielders, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. Both are likely to free via free agency, but it's not all bad--that will free up another $26m in payroll. Xavier Nady frees up another $6.55m and, considering he played just seven games this season, he won't be missed by the Yankees or sports betting fans.
Andy Pettitte should be the only significant loss to the pitching staff--if he even leaves. Pettitte, in the last year of his deal, could retire at the end of the season. Otherwise he could return as he's still a solid end-of-the-rotation contributor.
Two outfielders will likely be needed to replace Damon and Matsui. The first logical option is Matt Holliday, who hit .313 with 24 homers and 109 RBIs this season. A lineup featuring A-Rod, Teixeira and Holliday is absolutely terrifying. Rick Ankiel is another outfielder New York could take a chance on with minimal risk and a brilliant reward; he hit 25 homers for St. Louis two years ago before struggling in 2009.
Several pitchers will be on the market. Rich Harden is certain to get some attention; he has great stuff but is prone to injury but, behind Sabathia Burnett, that's a luxury they can afford. LA Angel John Lackey is another name that could be excellent as a No. 3 starter.
The big deal, though, will be Roy Halladay. New York has the prospects to pry the soon-to-be free agent from the floundering Toronto Blue Jays. Halladay would give New York another Cy Young winner, and he's coming off a 17-win, 2.79 ERA season.
It's sad, but true--even without many offseason additions the Yankees are bound to be in the World Series hunt. But after a few big acquisitions--most notably Halladay--repeating as World Series champs will be as close to a cakewalk you could ever get on sports picks.