Explanation of ratings system and other team previews here
NEW YORK YANKEES
Overall – 83 points (6th MLB, 5th AL)
Starting Rotation – 31 points (11th MLB, 6th AL)
Line-Up – 37 points (T-2nd MLB, 2nd AL)
Bench/Bullpen/Defense – 15 points (T-11th MLB, T-5th AL)
Offseason Additions – LaTroy Hawkins, Morgan Ensberg
Offseason Subtractions – Luis Vizcaino
Biggest Strength– Line-up
Damon. Jeter. Abreu. Rodriguez. Posada. Giambi. Matsui. Cano. Cabrera. That’s 36 all-star games, 20 silver sluggers and 4 MVP awards, 2 sure-fire HOFers (A-Rod, Jeter) and 2 just-missers (Abreu, Posada).
Biggest Weakness– Age
34. 33. 33. 32. 36. 37. 33. 25. 23. Those are the ages of the above line-up. The one thing with being as accomplished as this line-up is? You have to be in the league for a long time to rack up all those accolades. There will be players in this line-up who will have down years (Abreu, Posada), and others who will be injured (Giambi). The question will be how down and how injured they will be. On the pitching side, they will once again be relying heavily on Mike Mussina (39 years old, 5.15 ERA in ’07), Andy Pettitte (35, possibly distracted from steroid scandal) and Mariana Rivera (38, and had his highest ERA since his rookie season in 1995).
Key Player in ’08 – Phil Hughes
I’ve seen Hughes pitch a couple times and I think he has the potential to be an all-star. However, after failing to land Johan Santana, the Yankees will be relying heavily on Hughes to contribute right now. Their rotation has two old guys (Mussina, Pettitte), two young guys (Hughes and Ian Kennedy) and one sure-thing (Chien-Ming Wang). Hughes will need to pitch to his potential early for this team to make the playoffs.
Player to Keep an Eye On – Joba Chamberlain
Joba took the Bronx by storm with a combination of a giant head, competitive demenor, funny name and 100 mph heater. This year, the Yankees have decided to keep him in the bullpen and work him up to starting some point in the year. He was comically dominant as a reliever (0.38 ERA, 34 K in 24 IP), but when starting, you can’t throw as hard or rely on only 2 pitches (unless you are Sandy Koufax). It will be interesting to see how he makes the transition.
Outlook/Prediction – 2nd Place, AL East. I haven’t decided whether or not the Yankees will be the team to win the wild card. Seeing as they have made the playoffs nearly every year of my life, it seems logical. But they have so many old players on the downside of their career that I’m not sure they will this year given the talent level in the AL. I really thought they should have traded the entire farm system except Hughes and Chamberlain to get Johan Santana for one last push with this offensive core. They didn’t, and because of it, I think we’ll have to suffer through another summer of “What’s wrong with the Yankees” features on ESPN.