Every season the Yankees try to win a championship, but since 2000 have only found themselves buying heartache. Their rosters have been filled with top tier All-Stars Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Mike Mussina, who were all paid big bucks and produced solid statistics, but were unable to deliver a championship. Then there are the players such as Carl Pavano, Raul Mondesi, Jon Leiber, Jose Contreras and Kei Igawa, who the Yankees willingly forked over a kings ransom in hopes that they would get high return on their investments, but were sorely mistaken. Looking at the Yankees current roster the biggest investments that have not paid championship dividends for the New York Yankees are Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and of course Alex Rodriguez. With the way the 2009 season is playing out, these three players may just be hoisting the World Series Trophy by October’s end.
The top tier teams in their large markets may never be able to duplicate the amount of revenue that the Yankees bring to the game on a yearly basis, but with teams like the Dodgers, Mets and Red Sox all trying to spend in the same league as the Yankees these past few years, it allowed the Yankees the right to break the bank this offseason. GM Brian Cashman (potentially the most ironic front office name in sports history) to sign CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett to three mega contracts. To the Yankees delight, these three players are making pinstriped patrons proud by playing their best baseball and leading their team to the best record in the majors.
Coming off of a 4 game sweep of their arch-rival Boston Red Sox, all is well in The Bronx. The new Yankee Stadium that was being criticized to no end for the amount of home runs it allows is no longer being condemned because it has been a true homefield advantage for this team, leading them to a MLB best 39-17 record thus far. This record is beacuse this Yankees lineup is formidable. 9 players have 11+ Home Runs, with extreme balance within the 9 (11,12,14,16,16,18,21,21,29 HR’s respectively). That 29 HR’s is from the workman like All-Star First Baseman, 8 Year, $180 Million Dollar Man, Mark Teixeira. His impressive offensive achievements (leading the team in all major offensive categories) have been matched by his gold glove caliber defense to lead the Yankees to the top of the AL East once again. Derek Jeter is enjoying a terrificely productive offensive season, Nick Swisher has been a mashing surprise after being a subtle addition at the start of the year, Johnny Damon loves the new ballpark to the tune of 21 dingers, A-Rod feels happy/excepted by his teammates, with his play reflecting it, Robinson Cano is playing up to his All-Star level, the Cabrera/Gardner platoon injects life into the lineup everyday and Jorge Posada is healthy enough to contribute again. This is an lineup that no pitcher would be excited to face come October.
With a 6.5 game lead and enough firepower on offense to have Yankee fans expecting a playoff birth, the pitching is going to be put under the microscope more then ever before. We all know that CC Sabathia is worth every penny of his massive 7 Year $161 Million Dollar contract. For being a true ace, a true leader, an innings eater, a workhorse and undoubtedly being slated to start Game 1 of any playoff series. After the mammoth at the front end of the rotation, the rotation picture gets less crystal clear but has the ability to be electric. The Yankees were wary about A.J. Burnett’s health before signing him, so they only offered him 5 Years, worth $82.5 Million Dollars, which he happily excepted after terminating his contract early in Toronto to pitch for New York’s AL East contender. A.J. may hold the key to the Yankees post season success since he will be slated to be the Game 2 starter for the Yankees in nearly every scenario. No one is questioning the fireballers ability to dominate a major league lineup, but questions of his durability and focus tend to creep up on Burnett more then other pitchers on the roster. However, it cannot be forgotten that Burnett, along with Josh Beckett, carried the Florida Marlins to the 2003 World Series with their pitching performances, most notably against his current NY Yankee squad. Burnett can be the pitcher that they need him to be come playoff time, but time can only tell which A.J. will show up. Then there was the time tested Andy Pettite, who would be your Game 3 Starter. Pettite is a pitcher with a phenomenal postseason mark, but stumbled last season versus the Cleveland Indians. That will not frighten skipper Joe Girardi from using Pettite in a tight spot. With Pettite he has a starting pitcher with the intelligence, moxie and talent (blessed or illegal) to lead the Yankees to victory.
Then there was the bullpen, potentially the chink in the armor that is the 2009 NY Yankees. Mariano Rivera is still there, in dominating fashion at the end of the game. Rivera has been given more help in the bullpen then in the last few seasons from Alredo Aceves, Phil Coke and the versatile 23 year old Philip Hughes, which makes Yankee fans breathe easier and makes them happy towards the end of the game. Happiness may be even more apparent when the teams X-Factor Joba Chamberlain, happily shifts back to his role in the bullpen during the post-season to do whatever it takes for the team to win. Jubilation is resounding from the house that George built (Steinbrenner not George Herman Ruth) these days and with the Summer winding closer to September, then October baseball. the New York Yankees look prime and ready with a mix of talent both new and pinstripe veteran, to go head on with the best that Major League Baseball has to offer.
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