Friday, April 17, 2009

AL East: New York Yankees

Prediction: New York Yankees: 3rd place finish

Strengths: The Yankees have a strong veteran lineup that will produce a ton of runs. When healthy Alex Rodriguez and newly signed first baseman Mark Tiexera will form probably the best 3-4 combination in baseball. Shortstop Derek Jeter and left fielder Johnny Damon offer a little speed and great on-base ability at the top of the order. With the free agent additions of CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett to go along with holdovers Chien-Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettite the Yankees have one of the top rotations in the league. Mariano Rivera is the best closer in baseball and gives New York a huge luxury when the 9th inning comes along.

Weaknesses: Injuries and age are the two biggest problems facing the Yankees this season. Rodriguez will miss the first 4-6 weeks due to a hip injury. Two other big bats catcher Jorge Posada and designated hitter Hideki Matsui are coming off major injuries and will need to stay healthy for this lineup to be productive. Matsui, Posada, Pettite, Damon and Jeter are all going to be 35 years or older this season and will likely see their numbers decline to some degree. The Yankees defense is another problem area. Other than Tiexera the Yankees defensive alignment is made up of mostly average fielders.

Farm Aid: The Yankees farm system isn't as talented as their AL East counterparts but is still fairly solid. Pitching is the area that their farm system will bolster the most this season. Lefthander Phil Coke will be a long reliever in the Yankees bullpen this season and will likely be joined at some point by Alfredo Aceves and David Robertson. Starter Phil Hughes will be the first pitcher called upon if any of the Yankees top five go down with an injury. Given that the Yankees will be in the playoff hunt all season the Yankees may turn to their farm system to help them make a trade.

Outlook: The Yankees reloaded this off season but they are still in the toughest division in baseball. I think the Rodriguez injury will cost them some wins in April that could leave New York out of the playoff picture.

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