Monday, March 21, 2011

10 Days until Opening Day!

The 2011 MLB season officially gets underway exactly 10 days from now.  With the season approaching so quickly, I thought this would be the perfect time to give a preview of the projected Yankees roster as well as discuss the remaining question marks for the team that is once again expected to contend once again for the world series. 

Projected Roster:
C: Russel Martin - For the first time in about a decade Martin will be the first starting catcher not named Jorge Posada.  It will be interesting to see if Martin regained his offensive swing from three years ago when he was an all star for the Dodgers.
1b: Mark Teixeira - Teixeria will look to get off to a quick offensive start after a horrible start last season.  Teixeira is hoping to remain injury free after having several nagging injuries throughout last season.
2b: Robinson Cano - Cano will look to carry over his 2010 season to this season.  If he does, he should contend for the MVP.  Hitting coach Kevin Long believes Cano has the ability to hit 40 home runs. 
3b: Alex Rodriguez- This spring, Rodriguez has returned to the form he had prior to his hip surgery in 2009.  Rodriguez is leading the team in home runs this spring and hopes to continue that this fall.
SS: Derek Jeter - To put it plain and simple, Jeter is looking to avoid his disastrous 2010 season.  After resigning with the only team he's ever played for, Jeter revamped with his swing with Long and is now hitting a solid .330 this spring.  Hopefully, these results will carry over to the season.
DH: Jorge Posada - Posada will have to adjust to his first season as the team's full time DH.  A break from catching everyday should benefit Posada's aging body, who like many Yankees is also seeking a bounce back season offensively.
RF: Brett Gardner - Gardner too, revamped his swing with Long this spring.  He's trying to become a better bunter after raising his average significantly last season.  Gardner may bat lead off this fall which could be beneficial to Jeter.
CF: Curtis Granderson -After reviving his swing last summer, Granderson looked like an entirely different player offensively.  In his second year in New York, Granderson is just trying to stay consistent offensively while remaining a solid force in the field.
LF: Nick Swisher- Over the last two years, Swisher has been very solid during the regular season but his bat has gone stone cold in the postseason.  Swisher hopes to get off to a hot start and keep it going throughout the season.  Last season, he hit a career high in home runs. 
Starting Pitchers:
SP: CC Sabathia -Sabathia will look to repeat the two seasons he's already had in New York.  This season in particular could be especially important for Sabathia as he has stated he might opt out of his contract following the 2011 campaign.
SP: AJ Burnett - How do I say this bluntly? I can't. Burnett was TERRIBLE last year.  But, with the help of new pitching coach Larry Rothschild Burnett has made his delivery more simple and has looked tremendous this season.  He's improved so much, he earned the second spot in the rotation ahead of Phil Hughes.
SP: Phil Hughes - Hughes is looking to improve his 2010 all star campaign, except he wants to be better.  Hughes hit a wall after the all star break but still managed to finish the season with 18 wins.  His goal though is to lower his ERA which was 4.19
SP: Ivan Nova - Nova was a dark horse candidate to even make the pitching staff.  But, this spring he has already gone 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in four games this spring.  Nova forced his way into the rotation and it will be interesting to see if his success will continue once the regular season begins.
SP: Freddy Garcia or Bartolo Colon - Both Garcia and Colon are veteran starters who once had great success.  Unfortunately, due to injuries to both, their careers are now in jeopardy of being over.  Both signed minor league contracts in the off-season with a chance to make the team.  Garcia already stated he will not go to Triple A if he doesn't make the major league team.  As of right now, I have to believe that Colon has the upper hand over Garcia.
P: Mariano Rivera - After an interesting off-season, one in which Rivera admitted to entertaining offers from the hated Red Sox, he finally resigned.  I expect nothing but the usual greatness from Rivera, although it will be interesting to see if he continues to age gracefully.
P: Joba Chamberlain- Oh Joba... what can I say about you? Chamerlain showed up much heavier then he was over the past two seasons.  Chamberlain was also injured last week, with an oblique strain.  Ironically, maybe it has something to do with his weight? Chamberlain will probably share the 7th inning duties with David Robertson.
P: Boone Logan - Logan came over to the Yankees in the trade that brought Javy Vazquez to the team for a second time.  Fortunately for Logan, he turned to be the most important part of the trade and was one of the most important parts of the bullpen.  He'll probably serve as the lefty specialist again.
P: David Robertson- Robertson proved his value to the Yankees last season as he was one of the team's most consistent relievers.  Joe Girardi trusted Robertson so much last season that he became the 8th inning guy over Joba Chamberlain.  This season however, he'll probably serve as the primary 7th inning guy as the team signed Rafeal Soriano.
P: Rafeal Soriano- Soriano had a career season last year with the Rays when he served as the team's closer.  This season he will serve as the 8th inning man as he is a crucial part of the bridge to Rivera.  If all goes well, when Soriano's contract is up and Rivera is retired, he may be the Yankees new closer.
P: TBD (most likely Pedro Felicano)
C: Francicso Cervelli (will start season on DL due to broken bone in foot) - Cervelli's spring training's have been plagued with bad luck for him.  This season, was no different.  Cervelli broke a bone in his foot and is in a walking boot.  Because he is a catcher he can't do anything.  Cervelli will begin the season on the DL with either Austin Romine or Jesus Montero.
INF: Ramiro Pena or Jorge Vazquez, Eric Chavez - Pena and Vazquez who are good friends, are competing against each other for a spot on the Yankees bench.  While Vazquez has out hit Pena this season, he is not guaranteed a spot.  Pena proved his value defensively last season so it will be interesting to see what the team decides to go with.  Chavez is looking to regain his all-star form from when he was with the Athletics.  Chavez has looked great this spring and if he remains injury free, it will be hard for Girardi to keep  him on the bench. 
OF: Andruw Jones, Colin Curtis or Greg Golson - Jones has played sparingly in the past two seasons with the Texas Rangers and Chicago White Sox.  Jones will most likely start at DH against left handed batters.  He's become a defensive reliability, which is sad considering he was a 10 time gold glove winner with the Atlanta Braves.  As of right now, Golson has the job over Curtis.  Curtis, dislocated his shoulder earlier in Spring Training so Golson will most likely start the season with the Yankees.  

Now, it's time to address what questions will follow the team around throughout the season. 

1. Which AJ Burnett will show up?
  • The Burnett who was the leader of the Marlins staff in 2008?  The mediocre but effective Burnett in 2009 or the horrific Burnett of 2010?  Hopefully it will be somewhere between 2008 and 2009. 
2. Will the Yankees be able to get by with Nova and Colon/Garcia as their fourth and fifth starter or will GM Brian Cashman make a trade?
  • Again, it's just something that's going to have to play out
3. Will Derek Jeter bounce back?
  • All signs are indicating Jeter is now comfortable with his new swing but we will not know until he sees consistently decent pitching throughout the season.
4. Will CC Sabathia opt out of his contract at the end of the season?
  • Hopefully not, but he might because of the money that Cliff Lee got this past offseason. 
5. Do the Yankees have enough talent to make the playoffs?
  • Offensively, Yes I believe they do.  Pitching wise?  Check back with me in a month.

That's all for now.  I'll be updating again soon!