Regular Season Preview: The New York Yankees
After missing the playoffs for the first time in 13 years, General Manager Hank Steinbrenner decided that there was a lot of work to do. A lot of money was coming off the books, so the Yanks could easily afford a big name. However, Hank decided to raise payroll and acquire three big free agents, arguably 3 of the top 4. He is obviously very serious about winning, and because of all the money spent the Yanks are going to be just as good as some of the Yankee teams that played the last 14 years. (minus 2008) The division has gotten a lot stronger, though. The Red Sox are still a great team, and the Rays are just as bit as good if not better than they were last year. The will definitely be a lot of competition.
To start off this action-packed offseason, the Yankees made a small trade acquisition — Nick Swisher. They got him for pretty much just scrapes. They intended for him to play first base, but after the Tex signing he will be sharing time while playing all three outfield positions. After bringing in Swish, the Yanks made a much bigger splash when they went out and signed probably the best free agent, CC Sabathia. Just days after CC was acquired, Burnett joined the team. They were very quiet for a long time, but jumped into the Mark Teixeira bidding right before the slugger signed with the rival Red Sox. After locking those three up, they resigned Andy Pettitte even though it meant raising payroll by another 5.5 million. Outfielders Nick Swisher and Hideki Matsui are still available while Xavier Nady and Johnny Damon could be pried loose if the price is right. This was obviously a fantastic offseason for the Yanks, but will the additions propel this team past the Red Sox and Rays?
I think that there’s a good chance it could. The starting pitching of this team was definitely its Achilles Heal last year. Now it’s a strength. The offense lost Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi, but Teixeira more than makes up for it. There’s no question that this team is better than it was last year, but no one knows if it’s good enough. My early prediction is that the Yankees do have enough, but they need to stay healthy. AJ Burnett and Joba Chamberlain are both big health risks, with the former very injury prone. Also, you don’t know if Chien-Ming Wang will reinjure his foot. The Red Sox also have some injury risk in the rotation, but the Rays have a very durable staff with the possible exception of Scott Kazmir.
I honestly do not know what will happen. This division could go to any of the three teams. But it will sure be fun to watch!