|2008 New York Yankees Preview||| Print ||
Written by Adam Adkins (Contact & Archive) on March 04, 2008
Rank: 2nd in the AL East
New To The 'Stripes
RHP LaTroy Hawkins signed to 1 year deal (Colorado)
RHP Jonathan Albaladejo via trade with Washington
RHP Alex Rodriguez signed to a 10 year/$275 Million deal
INF Morgan Ensberg signed to 1 year deal (San Diego)
No Longer A Bomber
RHP Luis Vizcaino via Free Agency (Colorado)
RHP Tyler Clippard via trade with Washington
2007 was an exhausting, exhilarating, thrilling and heart breaking year for the Yankees. Alex Rodriguez had the best year of his career (arguably) and was the driving force behind the offense. Jorge Posada had a great year (coincidentally, it occurred during his contract year) and he helped carry this team. Derek Jeter continued to be one of the finest hitting shortstops to have ever played the game, even if his defense is less than stellar. Robinson Cano had possibly the best year of any second baseman not named Utley. Johnny Damon, Melky Cabrera, Hideki Matsui and Bobby Abreu all ranged from bad to average to good to great in 2007. Damon was hurt for the majority of the year and saw his production continue to decline, and in the process, lost his center field job to Melky Cabrera. Cabrera. the young center fielder, has a cannon for an arm but takes iffy routes to balls in the outfield and still doesn't have much of a clue at the plate. As Keith Law put it, “Melky doesn't seem to have any approach at all at the plate”. Matsui was hurt a lot during the year and saw a dip in production. Abreu played well in the second half after starting off slow.
The pitching staff was also interesting. Chien-Ming Wang was again the workhorse and top performer for the Bombers. Wang tossed 199.3 innings (48.5 VORP) after missing about the first month of the season with a hamstring problem. Lefty Andy Pettitte was fantastic all year long, throwing 215 innings and putting up a 36.8 VORP. Mike Mussina, on the other hand, looked like a man who no longer had it in him. However, one cannot mention the Yankee pitching these days without talking about the young guys.
Phil Hughes debuted early in 2007 and immediately found success in his second start. Sadly, while in the midst of a no-hitter, Hughes popped his hamstring and missed a few months as a result. (And...during rehab for that injury, he hurt his ankle.) Upon Hughes' return, he appeared off up until his fantastic relief appearance in Game 3 of the ALDS. Even though 2007 wasn't without its struggles for Hughes, the outlook is very, very bright for the 22 year old right hander.
As good as Hughes was, all of the hub-bub went to 22 year old
Ian Kennedy also debuted in 2007, and although his stuff isn't in the same stratosphere as Hughes or Chamberlain, he is definitely worth mentioning. Kennedy has near perfect polish and control for a pitcher his age (soon to be 24), and that makes up for his lack of overpowering pitches. Although he won't be an ace, he will very easily become a LAIM, one of the most underrated roles a pitcher can have.
As for some other debuts, Shelley Duncan arrived on the scene and displayed a big, long, loopy left handed power stroke. Kei Igawa was signed away from Japan and immediately stunk up the joint. He was sent down to every single level of the minors at one point or another.
Moving to the bullpen, Mariano Rivera was still Mariano Rivera, albeit with a little more BABIP than usual. His strikeout to walk ratio was as stellar as ever. Kyle Farnsworth was as dependable as a paper umbrella in a rain storm. The bullpen in the second half of the year consisted of Rivera-Chamberlain-Vizcaino and then some hopin' and some prayin'. Ross Ohlendorf has the potential to be a strong reliever, and he looked pretty good during his end of 2007 stay in the pen. Fan favorite Edwar Ramirez showed up with an unbelievable (seriously, un-freaking-believable) change up and nothing else. If used correctly—which I hope new manager Joe Girardi will do—Ramirez could be lethal for an inning, but any more than that and he wears down and flattens out his change, or worse yet, he'll drop a lame duck BP fastball over the heart of the dish.
Strengths & Weaknesses
The Yankees offense can and will be formidable, as usual. Rodriguez and Posada will come down to earth a bit, but that's to be expected. Robinson Cano should leap into 25 home run territory, and Cabrera could find a bat.
The Yankee pitching could go either way. Wang and Pettitte should be fine—if healthy—providing stability at the head of the rotation. Hughes is a prime breakout candidate in the third spot, and I'm willing to say he will quite easily lead the team in strikeouts. Kennedy and Mussina should fill out the bottom of the rotation until Chamberlain makes the leap (Oh, God, Please).
The bullpen is iffy. Rivera will be great. Ohlendorf should produce. Farnsworth should be alright. Alan Horne could be called up to help out. Ramirez could be a killer. Hawkins is a question mark, and one that I'm betting goes bad. As for Albaladejo...he looked good in 10 MLB innings, so I guess that's a plus.
SS Derek Jeter
2B Robinson Cano
RF Bob Abreu
3B Alex Rodriguez
C Jorge Posada
LF Hideki Matsui
DH Jason Giambi/Wilson Betemit/Morgan Ensberg/Shelley Duncan
CF Melky Cabrera
1B Jason Giambi/Wilson Betemit/Morgan Ensberg/Shelley Duncan
RHP Chien-Ming Wang
LHP Andy Pettitte
RHP Phil Hughes
RHP Ian Kennedy
RHP Mike Mussina
RHP Joba Chamberlain
RHP Mariano Rivera
RHP Ross Ohlendorf
RHP LaTroy Hawkins
RHP Johnathan Albaladejo
RHP Kyle Farnsworth
LHP Ron Villone
RHP Edwar Ramirez
RHP Joba Chamberlain
Keys To Success
Keeping the outfield healthy and producing is a big key for the Yankees. Keeping the youngsters in the pitching staff on track and Andy Pettitte healthy is also very important. It'd help a bunch if the lineup continued to be dominant (meaning Posada and Jeter and a few others don't enter the decline phases they should be in).
The Yankees are good, and the potential is there for them to be excellent. However, I'm going to say 93-69, 2nd Place in the AL East and a Wild Card Berth.