Saturday, February 24, 2007

Preseason Preview: Yankees

So it's my very short encapsulated preview for each team that hasn't been covered in detail, in which I outline starting rotations, lineups, and a brief gloss of each team's chances/projected records, all the while challenging myself to extreme brevity. We'll start with the AL East and heeeere we go. On an unrelated note, happy 30th birthday, Bronson Arroyo.


The New York Yankees

1. Chien-Ming Wang, RHP
2. Mike Mussina, RHP
3. Andy Pettitte, LHP
4. Kei Igawa, LHP
5. Carl Pavano, RHP

1. Mariano Rivera, RHP
2. Kyle Farnsworth, RHP
3. Scott Proctor, RHP
4. T.J. Beam, RHP
5. Mike Myers, LHP
6. Luis Vizcaino, RHP
7. Colter Bean, LHP

1B Doug Mientkiciwicz
2B Robinson Cano
SS Derek Jeter
3B Alex Rodriguez
RF Bobby Abreu
CF Johnny Damon
LF Hideki Matsui
C Jorge Posada
DH Jason Giambi

The 500 Word Rundown
The Yankees still have a fearsome offense, which is what leads everyone to pick them as World Series champions, every year, despite that they haven't been to the big dance since 2003 and haven't won it since 2000, when they beat the Mets in a Subway Series. They also revamped their pitching with the addition of Japanese lefty Kei Igawa and old fan favorite Andy Pettitte. Carl Pavano is a question mark after displaying lackluster work ethic and being sidelined with (and lying to the team about) a number of injuries. Mariano Rivera is still one of the most automatic closers in the game, the standout of a shaky bullpen, yet for all the team's talent, they can play up to it in the regular season, win the division comfortably, and come to pieces in October.

Perhaps it's true that money can't buy a championship, especially since the Yankees are picked almost every year to break their "drought" - seven years by now - and win the Series. You'd think that one of these years all that talent would bring a 27th crown back to the Bronx, but no. I'll tab them to win the AL East, no problems, but I'd be surprised to see them make it deep into the postseason. Alex Rodriguez in particular has had two consecutive dreadful Octobers, wilting under the glare of the Bronx spotlight, and no, I don't like him. Let's just leave it at that. I'm sure that later in the season we'll see a treatise outlining the fact that he's one of the more overrated players in baseball. Good? Sure. The one man you want to build a team around and count on him to always step up? No. Worth $250 million? Fuck no. I'm not inclined to lay the blame for the ridiculous contract on A-Rod - no, that's the Devil's... ahem, Scott Boras's... fault.

Everyone is one year older, the pressure is on just as much, and manager Joe Torre's chief job will be juggling all the egos in the clubhouse. This is a team of superstars who know they are superstars and often play like it - i.e. in their own best interests to pad their stats. I don't think they disdain each other, it's just that they run baseball like a business - cool, performance-oriented, professional courtesy only. Perhaps that's an asset, as after all this is the team that has won the most World Series championships in history, but I don't see the Yankees players bonding over game shows and guys' night out; they put on their suits and calmly walk out the door to their own lives. There have also been a number of clubhouse friction incidents - most notably Jeter/Rodriguez and Pavano/Mussina. Until the jaded superstars are weeded out and young guys who want it are brought in, I foresee the title drought marching onwards in the Bronx. Buy George Steinbrenner some blood pressure medicine.

Projected Finish:
95-67, AL East Champs

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