PRESEASON PREVIEW: New York Yankees


Posted Feb 14, 2005


It is always difficult to tell how much a team has improved of itself over the course of an off season when that team won over 100 games the season before. However, with the Yankees, it is constant process with the faces changing every year. But once again, the Yankee team looks loaded with hired guns, and one great Big Unit.

ADDITIONS:

 

Left-handed Reliever Mike Stanton (trade); Right-handed Reliever Felix Rodriguez (trade); 2b Tony Womack (free agent - 2 year contract); Right-handed Starter Carl Pavano (free agent - 4 year contract); Right handed Starter Jaret Wright (free agent - 3 year contract); 1b Tino Martinez (free agent - 1 year contract with an option for 2006); Left-handed Starter Randy Johnson (trade)

 

LOSSES:

 

Right-handed Starter Jon Lieber (free agent); Right-handed Starter Esteban Loaiza (free agent); Right-handed Starter Javier Vazquez (trade); Left-handed Starter Brad Halsey (trade); Left-handed Reliever Felix Heredia (trade); 2b Miguel Cairo (free agent); OF Kenny Lofton (trade); IF Enrique Wilson (free agent); 1b John Olerud (free agent); 1b Tony Clark (free agent)

 

PROJECTED LINEUP:

 

1: SS Derek Jeter

 

2: 3b Alex Rodriguez

 

3: RF Gary Sheffield

 

4: LF Hideki Matsui

 

5: C Jorge Posada

 

6: CF Bernie Williams

 

7: DH Jason Giambi

 

8: 1b Tino Martinez

 

9: 2b Tony Womack

 

Can it be possible for a team to have too many good hitters in it? In the Yankees case, it is one of the few problems that the team has. Although Tony Womack appears to be the more ideal leadoff hitter, Joe Torre is not going to want the likes of Jason Giambi or Tino Martinez in the last spot in the lineup. Womack at the bottom and Jeter at the top gives Torre new options in the speed and base running department.

 

The only other decisions that have to made is what will be the best way to situate the middle of the lineup. In this case, Alex Rodriguez might look good in the two spot again with Jeter in front and Gary Sheffield behind him. Again, he'll likely be the most dangerous number two man in the game.

 

It looks like it will be another season of Bernie Williams manning center field. However, he is going to need to take on some DH duties once in a while to keep him healthy all season. That is where the Martinez/Giambi/Williams cycle begins. However, Torre is going to want fan favorite and slick fielding Tino Martinez to see as much action as possible.

 

Aside from that, there no gaping holes in this lineup barring any injuries. One question mark will be Gary Sheffield's surgically shoulder. There is no true replacement in this lineup if he goes down. But at full strength, Joe Torre and his staff have a lot to work with.

 

BENCH:

 

C John Flaherty

 

IF Rey Sanchez

 

OF/DH Ruben Sierra

 

OF Doug Glanville

 

Unlike years past, the Yankee bench isn't particularly a strength to begin 2005 season. However, Doug Glanville should become a more than serviceable back for Bernie Williams in center field, or any other outfielder for that matter. He is a much better presence than Bubba Crosby would have been.

 

An one time Yankee, Sanchez is an excellent addition to the bench, however. He knows what it takes to play in New York and serving as a backup is a familiar role for him.

 

We already know what we are getting from Ruben Sierra. Although he may strikeout quite a bit, he's been there in clutch situations many teams. He is the Yankees biggest power threat off the bench.

 

Another important thing to consider is the veteran depth the club has at AAA. 27 year old, Damian Rolls is a perfect example of this. He could be called up anytime to fill in at 3b, 2b and outfield.

 

ROTATION:

 

LH Randy Johnson

 

RH Mike Mussina

 

RH Carl Pavano

 

RH Kevin Brown

 

RH Jaret Wright

 

Well, the Yankees got what they've wanted, needed and longed for since last spring. They got their, ace, their lefty starter and probably the best pitcher you can find in the game today. We can expect nothing less from Randy Johnson than yet another dominating season in his already amazing career.

 

Mike Mussina was never truly a guy meant to carry this Yankee staff. However, he'll make a spectacular one-two punch with The Big Unit. And, despite the pessimist's words, there is no reason to believe that Carl Pavano can't duplicate his 2004 campaign.

 

Kevin Brown, the man everyone wanted gone, is still not exactly a horrible option. In fact, if healthy, he'll be a major factor on this staff. And, Jaret Wright or Brown may end up being the best 5th starter in the game. But, they simply need to stay healthy.

 

BULLPEN:

 

Closer Mariano Rivera

 

MR Steve Karsay

 

MR Mike Stanton

 

MR Felix Rodriguez

 

MR Paul Quantrill

 

MR Tom Gordon

 

MR Tanyon Sturtze

 

Mariano Rivera could be the great closer of all time. He needs no introduction. Look for him to have another dominating year and some much needed rest as a result of the bullpen depth that surrounds him.

 

As for Karsay, he has shown he can be a very effective setup man but will he be able to stay healthy? If he is, he'll be a huge lift for QuanGorMo. 

 

We all know Felix Rodriguez has electric stuff but does he stand the New York pressure test. We'll just have to wait and see. But, he won't have as much pressure considering his supporting cast. Not to mention, he dominated lefties in 2004.

 

Here he is, the lone lefty in the pen, Mike Stanton. It isn't certain how much he has left in the tank but he provides another veteran presence in the pen. He'll be the one who has to come out and face David Ortiz in a big spot.

 

Tom Gordon imploded under the pressure on the playoffs last year but that doesn't mean he can't return to his dominating regular season form. As for Quantrill, he simply logged too many innings and was worn down by season's end in 2004. Expect a solid season from him now that his workload will be cut down.

 

Tanyon Sturtze showed everyone in 2004 what he was all about even when they didn't expect much out of him to begin with. He came up huge over and over again in big spots and became one of Joe Torre's prestigious "trusted relievers."

 

BIGGEST QUESTION MARK:

 

Health of the back end of the rotation

 

Talent the Yankees may have at the back end of the rotation but no one ever said they have had healthy careers. There is the beleaguered Kevin Brown who has had just about every injury in the book and Jaret Wright who has a history of shoulder problems. If they're healthy, they could be the best 4th and 5th starters in the game. But that health will be in questions throughout the 2005 season.

 

BREAKOUT PLAYER:

 

Alex Rodriguez

 

Funny how one of the elite players in the game can have a breakout season. But, this mega star still has a lot to prove to himself to himself and the New York fans. However, being the gifted player that he is, it is not likely that he'll have another "down" season in the Bronx in 2005. The real Alex Rodriguez should bounce back with his annual monstrous season.

 

PROJECTION:

 

Most of the success of this team will likely hinge on the health of it's key players and contributors. However, no on is ever going to accuse them of being too short offensively. They have enough weapons to be dangerous at all times. However, the pitching staff, despite a definite improvement, still has question marks. But, overall, it looks like another big year for the Yankees as, once again, they appear to be the favorites to win the AL East.



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