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1965? Stop It!
"Silly Season" Is Over
Thankfully, the "silly season" is over.
You know what "season" I'm talking about. You don't? Well, it's the spring training and exhibition season, where fans and "experts" can say anything they want, and make wild projections that no one will remember come October. In Yankee Land, this past silly season was no different from the ones in the past.
Consider what we have all heard and read in the last two months. "1965 all over again"; "too old"; "injuries have crippled them"; "they lost all their homerun hitters"; "picking too many guys off the scrap heap"; yes, on and on it went. All statements and projections we have heard about a team that won 95 games last year, despite "crippling injuries", "age", and fielding a "homer happy team".
Personally, I really can't hold anything against the writers (I mean "experts") who participate in the "silly season". We all know writing about a "Yankee demise" is a lot more interesting than constantly saying this team is going to win its division again. I mean, really, if you wrote that the Yankees would win the Eastern Division Title every season since the year 2000, you only would have been correct 10 out of 13 times. Who wants to post a record like that, when you can participate in "silly season" every year?
Well, now that the "silly season" is over, it's time to talk real baseball, and show why the New York Yankees will once win the American League East in 2013. That's right, despite all the gloom and doom, the Yankees have enough on the field now, and will have reinforcements coming in all season long to propel them to another East title.
Going into the 2013 season, the Yankees strong suit is pitching. We've all heard it before, "Pitching wins championships". With a rotation of CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes, and David Phelps, the starting rotation will be strong and consistent. That rotation will be backed by a bullpen lead by the return of closer, Mariano Rivera (who this spring looks as good as ever). "Mo" will get added help from the likes of David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, Ivan Nova (who could also start) Shawn Kelley and Adam Warren.
The Yankee starting rotation could become even stronger if Michael Pineda comes back from a shoulder injury he suffered last spring. Pineda is progressing nicely, and may return by late June or July. If that becomes the case, the Yanks could add a power arm to the rotation or to the bullpen.
As far as the offense goes, during the course of this season, the Yankees will add Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez into the mix. While "A-Rod" is not a guarantee to return from his hip injury, the other three will; but until then, the Yankees have to find a way to use the assets they have now to create runs. This means manager Joe Girardi must employ a running game to get the most out of players like Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, and Eduardo Nunez. These guys must create havoc on the bases paths to jump start the Yankee offense. Unlike in recent years, Girardi has to manage aggressively.
The Yankee offense will once again be anchored by Robinson Cano. What can you say about this guy? He has it all, and now he is going to be called upon to lead this team. Cano is in his "walk year" of his Yankee contract, and now has a chance to prove what he is worth to the Yanks while other stars are recovering from injuries. "Robbie" should log another great season, BUT must stay within himself, as he may be pitched around because of a depleted lineup. Hopefully, Cano learned a lesson from last year's playoffs. If you try to "force" things, you will fail.
A key off season acquisition for the Yanks, was the signing of Kevin Youkilis. In Youkilis, the Yanks are going to get another patient hitter in the lineup. The former Boston and Chicago player will also add some much need protection for Cano. If Youk stays healthy, he may hit 25 homers for the Yanks this year.
Yankee fans know the "Bombers" always tried to have some left hand hitting power to take advantage of the Stadium's "short porch" in right field. When both Granderson and Teixeira went down, General Manger, Brian Cashman filled the void with Lyle Overbay, Brennan Boesch, and Travis Hafner. All will provide punch from the left side of the plate, and will be complemented by Vernon Wells and Ben Francisco from the right side.
Out of all the players Cashman has signed to fill the void of the injured starters, Wells might turn out to be Brian's best move. Like Ichiro last season, the move to New York may rejuvenate Wells back into the hitter he was a few years ago.
At catcher, the Yankees have two defensive backstops in Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli. According to Girardi, he will mix and match his catchers unless one of them really starts hitting.
Speaking of the Yankee skipper, he now has a team that he HAS to manage. As stated earlier, Joe will have to play a different brand of ball until his regulars come back. This lineup is more suited for hitting and running, bunting and stealing. Also, Joe will have to deploy an outfield rotation, depending on who is pitching for the opposing team. He will also have to move Youkilis to first and Jason Nix to third when a lefty is facing them. In short, Girardi will be required to make many in game moves than he ever has had to in his tenure as a Yankee manager.
So there you have it folks. It's going to be a very interesting (and I believe also a very entertaining) year.
"Silly season" is over. Play Ball!
Projected Order Of Finish, American League East
1. New York
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