All across our own comments, twitter, and the larger blogosphere, I’ve heard a lot of “Oh shit! We’re screwed” panic from Yankee fans yesterday. I think that the Yankees are still favorites over the Boston Red Sox, assuming they sign a decent LF or DH instead of letting Juan Miranda fill the spot. Here are ten reasons why the Yankees are in good shape:
- They won. The Yankees are the defending World Series champions, and did it in dominating fashion. They handedly beat a very strong incumbent team and arguably the two strongest teams in the American League on the way there. They won 103 games in the regular season, which was by far the best in the majors.
- Alex Rodriguez isn’t injured. Its easy to forget that we started 2009 with Cody Ransom as our third baseman, and spent much of the late spring and early summer trying to get Alex Rodriguez back on track. The man who carried our team for so many years looks very healthy, and should return to old form next season. Both on defense and offense. Its not a coincidence that the team didn’t start to win until after Ransom and Pena were replaced by Arod.
- We added Curtis Granderson. Curtis Granderson will be a big upgrade defensively, and will replace the lost productive of Hideki Matsui. While he had a down year last season, it has beenwell documented that he’s due for a bounce back, and has a great Yankee Stadium swing. And if the Yankees get really ambitious and add Damon and a low-cost DH, Granderson is a huge upgrade over Melky.
- The defense will improve. In part because of Granderson, but also because of the departure or banishment to DH of Johnny Damon, the Yankee outfield defense is going to improve significantly. And assuming Alex Rodriguez improves following the recovery from his hip injury, the Yankees could be 1.5-2 wins better on defense alone.
- There is no World Baseball Classic. Hopefully, Damaso Marte doesn’t find another shamexhibition tournament somewhere to play in and injury himself.
- The bullpen is more settled. Brian Bruney was our primary setup guy heading in to the year. Is that a bad idea or what? The Yankees are much more stable right now in the bullpen department right now. David Robertson is a stud, and Damaso Marte showed some great stuff in the playoffs. Behind them, the Yankees are still sorting out a bunch of long men and young guys, but they have a lot of good options to choose from.
- Our top 4 2009 starting pitchers are likely to get better, not worse. A.J. Burnett is due for some improvement, and Joba Chamberlain is due for a lot of improvement. Both have the stuff and track record to be sub-4.00 ERA pitchers, and I think that we’ll see it. Joba is obviously a bit more of a project, but probably suffered from a bit of fatigue toward the end of last year. And the Yankees could also add a Ben Sheets to the mix, who would be a huge improvement over the collection of Chien-Ming Wang (9.44 ERA), Sergio Mitre (6.79 ERA), and Chad Gaudin (3.43 ERA) who made up our 5th starters last year. Really, any health pitcher would be an improvement, including Phil Hughes.
- A better bench. Our bench to start to season should include some combination of Juan Miranda, Brett Gardner, Ramiro Pena, Jamie Hoffmann and Francisco Cervelli. All are solid young players who can contribute in diverse ways, and improvements over Ransom, Molina, and Angel Berroa.
- There’s plenty of depth. Ivan Nova, Zach McAllister, and Jesus Montero will all by at Triple-A, and likely see their MLB debuts this season. Mark Melancon is still around, and has plenty of talent and experience to hit he MLB bullpen. Gaudin, Mitre, and Aceves provide starting options. The Yankees can take a few injuries.
- Cashman isn’t done. Seriously, the Yankees at the very least will sign a DH. They may add Damon to play left and a DH. Cashman famously used to talk about being fine with Bubba Crosby as his center fielder right before signing Johnny Damon. A starting pitcher like Ben Sheets may come along. Kelvim Escobar could receive a minor league deal. There is a very strong chance that the roster is even stronger on opening day than it is now.
And let’s not forget, the Red Sox just lost Jason Bay, their second best hitter for 2009. David Ortiz is fat and old, Lowell was actually a pretty decent hitter last season, and Kevin Youkilis is ugly. We’ve got nothing to panic about.
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TagsA.J. Burnett Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Bartolo Colon Boston Red Sox Brett Gardner Brian Cashman Bullpen CC Sabathia Chien-Ming Wang Cliff Lee Curtis Granderson David Robertson Dellin Betances Derek Jeter Francisco Cervelli Freddy Garcia Game Recap Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Javier Vazquez Jesus Montero Joba Chamberlain Joe Girardi Johnny Damon Jorge Posada Manny Banuelos Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda New York New York Yankees Nick Johnson Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano Red Sox Robinson Cano Russell Martin Tampa Bay Rays Yankees