Sports Outside the Beltway

It’s the Yankees, They Better Be Good

They will be. They have great hitters and their pitching is very solid. Their defense is suspect and getting to Mariano at the back end of the bullpen will be interesting, and then there’s Carl Pavano. Let’s take a walk around the Yankee roster and kick the tires a bit.


The Yankees remain strong with the bats. The outfield of Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu all get on base, hit for power and drive in runs. The infield is nearly as good, with the only weak link qualified by the number of at bats that Doug Mientkiewicz gets playing first base. And even then, Mientkiewicz’ 2006 line of .283/.359/.411 was slightly better than his career averages, and the short right field porch may help boost his power numbers. The biggest Yankee concern on offense will be Jorge Posada, who numbers are still strong, but who is getting to the age where catchers begin to tail off. He’ll get more rest, because the Yankees can afford to rest him and play Jason Giambi at first and have Melky Cabrera DH and still have only one weak bat in the order.

The best story on the Yankees is the continued development of Robinson Cano. His sophomore campaign built on his success in 2005 and established him as one of the more exciting young hitters in the American League. Cano’s production while the Yankees were hurting last season was crucial to them staying in the hunt and eventually destroying Boston down the stretch.

A likely Yankee lineup
CF Johnny Damon
SS Derek Jeter
RF Bobby Abreu
3B Alex Rodriguez
LF Hideki Matsui
DH Jason Giambi
C Jorge Posada
2B Robinson Cano
1B Doug Mientkiewicz

It’s a little lefty heavy (A-Rod and Jeter are righties and Posada is a switch hitter) which may explain why the Red Sox have so many lefty relievers. But it is potent filled with difficult outs and good OBP guys from top to bottom.

The bench is thin, but Yankee regular Miguel Cairo has been solid for the Yankees. Melky Cabrera is developing into a quality outfielder. Andy Phillips will spell Mientkiewicz and provides good defense off the bench. Useful all. Outstanding, not so much.


With the trade of Randy Johnson, the Yankees removed the Big Headache, and neatly shifted the salary blot on the ledger from Johnson to Andy Pettitte. The once and future Yankee lefty makes his triumphant return to the Bronx. And for the money he may have been the best pitcher on the market. His short contract gives the Yankees flexibility. Further, Pettitte offers the promise of luring Roger Clemens back to the Bronx, as well. The rest of the rotation is pretty settled, with Mike Mussina back for his seventh season in Yankee pinstripes, Chien-Ming Wang getting grounders for a third season and newcomer Kei Igawa, imported from Japan for about half of what the more heralded Daisuke Matsuzaka cost Boston. The fifth spot may just be a placeholder for Clemens. Will Carl Pavano be healthy. Maybe for a few starts. Or maybe he will bounce back and become the solid league average starter he was in Florida. If so, don’t be surprised if New York doesn’t flip him after a quick start and still signs Clemens, but that depends on Pavano being healthy.

In the bullpen, there is some stability. Mariano Rivera is the best relief pitcher in Major League History, but he is also 37 years old. Kyle Farnsworth, Scott Procter, Luis Vizcaino and Mike Myers will handle the majority of setup work.


It’s too early to call them a front-runner, and with the uncertainty of the Clemens situation, the AL East may come down to just that. He who gets Clemens, gets the edge. Until they are knocked off, the Yankees have the edge. Don’t expect a World Series Title, but a Division Title, yeah, they got it.

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