The season is upon us, so now seems seems like a good time to ask how you think the Yankees will do.
Vote in the poll over to the right.
Last year at this time, I predicted the Yankees would not make the playoffs. The lack of pitching depth and the transition to a new manager seemed like to much to overcome. Given all the injuries, it was remarkable they won as many games as they did.
This year? I like the Yankees getting to the World Series and beating the team they just played, the Chicago Cubs. Here is why:
Pitching: In CC Sabathia, Chien-Ming Wang, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte and Joba Chaberlain, the Yankees can send a quality starter to the mound every day. Meanwhile Phil Hughes is waiting in Scranton along with the capable Alfredo Aceves.
Defense: Swapping Mark Teixeira for Jason Giambi and Xavier Nady for Bobby Abreu will make the right side of the diamond far less of a black hole than it was. Robinson Cano also appears to have overcome the lethargy he played with for much of last season. Having Brett Gardner in center also will improve the defense. The Yankees are far from a good defensive team, but they are much better than they were.
Offense: The Yankees will miss Giambi and Abreu here. But having a healthy Jorge Posada, a relatively healthy Hideki Matsui and Teixeira should overcome that. Nady and Johnny Damon will be motivated by their walk years. It’s hard to gauge what Alex Rodriguez will do given his injury, the drug questions and his turbulent personal life. But he could well have a huge year.
The manager: Joe Girardi first season was rocky, which was to be expected. He is far more relaxed this season and it helps that five key newcomers — Sabathia, Burnett, Teixeira, Gardner and Nick Swisher — have no ties to Joe Torre. The more the roster turns over, the easier it becomes for Girardi to put his imprint on it.
Depth: The Yankees had a variety of useless players on the bench last season. Now, instead of Morgan Ensberg, Wilson Betemit and the like, they’ll have Swisher, Meky Cabrera and an actual good glove in Ramiro Pena. Girardi has options now.
The schedule: The AL East is a bear. The Yankees, Red Sox and Rays are arguably the three best teams in the game. If the Yankees survive that, they’ll a tough out in the playoffs. The rest of the AL is not very imposing with the Angels a lesser team than in recent years and the AL Central a jumble.
Prediction: 98-64, first place in AL East.
As for the rest of baseball:
Yankees over Indians
Red Sox over Angels
Yankees over Red Sox
Phillies over Dodgers
Cubs over Mets
Cubs over Phillies
Yankees over Cubs
AL MVP: Mark Teixeira, Yankees
AL Cy Young: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox
AL Rookie of the Year: Elvis Andrus, Rangers
AL Manager of the Year: Trey Hillman, Royals
NL MVP: Alfonso Soriano, Cubs
NL Cy Young: Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks
NL Rookie of the Year: Stephen Strasberg, Nationals
NL Manager of the Year: Lou Piniella Cubs