March 25, 2007


Best-case scenario in NY?: Yankees believe they are the team to beat (Nick Cafardo, March 24, 2007, Boston Globe)

[$]180 million probably doesn't buy what it used to. There are flaws.

Andy Pettitte has been bothered by back spasms, and Chien-Ming Wang will start the season on the disabled list with a hamstring problem. The end of the rotation, with Kei Igawa and Carl Pavano, is unsettling, though Igawa, who was being considered for Scranton, eased concerns with six shutout innings against the Phillies last Tuesday after a poor start. Pavano is at least healthy and throwing well, but needs to be careful with lefthanded hitters. And the issues with Pettitte and Wang are not considered long-term problems.

General manager Brian Cashman is trying to get the team younger, and it doesn't appear that he'll let much get in the way. That's why you see righthanded starter Jeff Karstens getting a long look for a spot in the rotation. That's why you see a solid, young five-man rotation at Scranton, with real prospects including 20-year-old phenom Philip Hughes. That's why when camp breaks, veteran Todd Pratt, who might be best-suited for the backup catcher role, might not make it over young Wil Nieves or Raul Chavez.

The front four in the bullpen -- righthanders Mariano Rivera, Scott Proctor, Kyle Farnsworth, Luis Vizcaino (.163 vs. lefties) -- are solid. And lefty Sean Henn's strong spring training performance could cost a veteran like Mike Myers or Ron Villone a roster spot.

A huge issue is whether Alex Rodriguez can ever be comfortable playing in New York, where the fans are relentless. He could make it better by hitting in the clutch and making fewer errors, or he could make it a lot worse. But Damon and Jason Giambi are committed to making sure Rodriguez can relax and just let his incredible talents flow.

"We've got to do a better job with Alex as far as keeping him loose and putting him in a frame of mind where he's going to really take off," Damon said. "The closer we get to the season here, the more excitement we're starting to feel."

"Sky is the limit for this team," Giambi said. "We can hit and score runs. We have a good rotation, a good bullpen. We have to find a way to get beyond where we were last year and just stay consistent as a lineup."

The inadequacy of the rotation is obvious enough, but not that it isn't Jeter and Torre who are leading the team but Damon and Giambi?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 25, 2007 10:42 AM

Last year the Yankees were the team of 10 starting All-Stars (9 + Rivera) and were going to win 120 games and cruise to the World Series. Didn't happen. But the same pundits are saying the same tune this year.

Posted by: AWW at March 25, 2007 10:42 PM