New York Yankees Last Year: 89-73 3rd in AL East This Year: 3rd in AL East
Last Year in Joe Girardi's first year as manager of the Yankees they finished in 3rd place for their worst finish since 1992. The front office answered with vengeance signing big free agents in Sabathia, Burnett and Teixeira. The question is whether it will be enough to compete in the ridiculously competitive AL East. In fact just making the playoffs might be the hardest part of winning their 27th World Series title.
Rotation LHP C.C. Sabathia 17-11 3.24 ERA 213 K RHP A.J. Burnett 16-10 3.79 ERA 205 K RHP Chien-Ming Wang 17-9 3.78 ERA 102 K LHP Andy Pettitte 12-14 4.79 ERA 149 K RHP Joba Chamberlain 12-9 3.67 ERA 189 K
CP RHP Mariano Rivera 2.29 ERA 37 SV 72 K
Best Case Scenario: Alex Rodriguez comes back before May and is business as usual. Aging players Jeter, Damon, Matsui and Posada all stay healthy and contribute. Sabathia stays healthy after pitching 250 innings last year and is just as effective competing for a Cy Young award. Somehow A.J. Burnett gets a big contract and still decides to stay healthy and pitch 180 innings. They finally stick with Chamberlain in the rotation and he proves he can be a starter. This team wins the AL East and wins the World Series.
Worst Case Scenario: Alex Rodriguez has a lost year with the hip injury leaving a huge void in the suddenly weak Yankee lineup. The old parts of the lineup spend more time on the DL than the lineup. Sabathia and Burnett fail to live up to the contract and the Yankees panic causing more harm. This team finishes third in the AL East and misses the playoffs for back-to-back years.
Player Most Important to Success: Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod has quite the rough spring so far. He was found to have taken steroids and he has hurt is hip and should be out until May. The question is whether he will be back in May and how effective he will be when he gets back. Chase Utley and Mike Lowell both struggled coming back from hip injuries. If he is ineffective and not vintage A-Rod this team doesn't stand a chance. In April they will be counting on 34-year old Hideki Matsui. This lineup without A-Rod being A-Rod is mediocre surrounded with aging, injury-prone players.
Outlook: This team has issues that could lead to a less than stellar introduction to the new Yankee Stadium. The rotation should be fine with Hughes and Kennedy ready to fill in for any injuries or Andy Pettitte, but the bullpen and lineup are serious problems. With Joba in the rotation who get the ball to Rivera. Demaso Marte? Edwar Ramirez? Some guy named Phil Coke? They will need the starters to pitch 8 innings all year or have Rivera pitch two innings every game. The lineup has the potential to be a disaster if A-Rod has a lost year. Posada is 37 and missed most of last year, Damon is 35 and is no longer the leadoff hitter, Jeter is 34 and has started a steep decline, Matsui 34 and has only been healthy 1 of the last 3 years, even A-Rod's backup Cody Ransom is 33. The other players are questions also. Cano is coming off a bad year and Gardner is an unproven rookie.The bottom line is they still have more questions than they have answers. Bottom line is both the Rays and Sox have a better lineup and the Sox have better pitching. This team would win the division in any other division but in the AL East that equals 3rd place and another disappointing year in the Bronx.