From messy negotiations with the Captain; to ace Cliff Lee choosing brotherly love over the big apple; to waving goodbye to one of the Core Four; the New York Yankees off-season seemed to be in the news for all the wrong reasons.
The only legit move was signing reliever RafaelBrian Cashman publicly disagreed with ownership., but even that became a soap opera, as the Yankees GM
Oh, let’s not forget what we learned about Alex Rodriguez, he is a want-a-be jet setter, who cannot feed himself; he picks and flicks, but don’t worry he still likes blonde actresses. Let’s all hope A-rod can deal with playing baseball again.
The off-season ended on a sad note, as Andy Pettitte hung-up his gloves on February 4th at Yankee Stadium. Pettitte is still a top of the rotation ace, was loved in the clubhouse and was a fan favorite. Yankee fans can only wish Pettitte all the best.
Now with the Yankees officially in Spring Training, it’s time to get to work. With the moves implemented by Boston’s GM Theo Epstein, the Red Sox are heavily favored to not only win the AL East, but also a shoe-inn to be playing in 2011 World Series.
Though Yankee Universe got a reality check this off-season, it is not as if the team now can’t play baseball. Most teams would be happy to have the same ‘problems’ of the Yankees, as the team is still one of the best.
Just look at the whose returning to the Yankees line-up from 2010, Jeter, Granderson, Teixeira, A-rod, Cano, Posada, Swisher, and Gardner. It includes four All-Stars, three Gold Glovers and one Silver Slugger recipient.
In 2010, with chiefly the same group, the Yankees posted a 97-67 record. The bats led the majors in RBIs with 832, On Base Percentage with .350 and had the most runs with 859. Add that to coming in third with 802 home-runs, came in second in walks with 662 and ranked fourth in baseball for total bases and slugging percentage.
To have those numbers in a season where the Captain was off, Granderson was on the DL for almost two months and our best hitter A-rod still wasn’t fully cleared from hip surgery is pretty darn good.
Last season, Gardner and Swisher proved there worth by stepping it up when the team struggled and look for both to continue.
The glue of the line-up was Robinson Cano, who finally broke out and showed everyone that he is as good as scouts predicted. Cano should win his second Silver Slugger in 2011, and after coming in second for 2010 MVP, look for him to win it in 2011.
Jeter and Granderson finished the season like themselves, and A-rod finally got cleared this past June to be able to workout without any hesitations.
So, with virtually the same line-up, and an upgrade of what fans hope will be touted prospect Jesus Montero taking the empty spot in the line-up. Andruw Jones will fill in as part-time DH, which adds up to a Bombers line-up that is going to be better than last season.
The clubs clear other strength came against GM Cashman’s better judgment, as Hal and Hank Steinbrenner overrode him to sign the best closer from 2010 Rafael Soriano. Soriano is more than happy to move from closer to set-up for, as he knows what an honor setting up for the great-one Mariano Rivera will be.
Rivera signature cutter still mystifies batters after 16 seasons. Rivera is 41-years-old but showed no reason for concern really at all. Still, having Soriano ready just in case was a brilliant call that would make the Boss very proud of his sons.
Add in Pedro Feliciano from the Mets and the returns of David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan and Sergio Mitre and this is easily the best bullpen on paper in the division. A solid bullpen is a team’s icing on the cake. The importance of relief pitchers cannot be overstated because fact is they are game changers.
The rotation is steered by ace CC Sabathia, who has been practically perfect since arriving in the Bronx in 2009. Sabathia has been one of the best pitchers in baseball for all 10-seasons of his career, named to four All-Star teams, winning the 2007 Cy Young, while finishing second in 2008 and last season.
Sabathia is an innings eater, goes deep into games and posted 197 strikeouts in each of the last two seasons. He dropped 25+ pound during the off-season, which should only make the 6’7 Sabathia even better.
Following CC is Phil Hughes who defied odds during his first season as a starter. Hughes won 18 games, with 146 strikeouts over 177 innings pitched. It earned Hughes his first of many All-Star appearances.
Look for Hughes to incorporate his change-up more in 2011 and should be an excellent in the two spot, especially with the experience of a full season in the rotation behind him. Continue reading ‘2011 MLB Team Preview: New York Yankees’ »