I think the title of my blog speaks for itself. It certainly has been way too long since my last blog and I promise with the new season quickly approaching, I will fulfill my duties as a Featured Blogger here on My YES.
This offseason has been a good one, filled with doing podcasts, new video and going on some radio shows to discuss the Yankees' offseason moves. When not working on the Yankees this winter, I've had to work on the Nets, who are really having a rough time to say the least. A 4-48 season to this point is pretty awful, but with the free agent class this summer and the possibility of landing the No. 1 pick and John Wall in the draft, the Nets could greatly improve in 2010-11.
My blog entry today is not going to be about the woeful play of the Nets, nor about my three-month layoff, but about what we can expect from the 2010 Yankees. With pitchers and catchers already in Tampa preparing to report for the new season, expectations are very high for a team that won 103 games and the World Series in convincing fashion. The main question that the Yankees have coming into this season is, have the Yankees done enough this offseason to get back to the Fall Classic and win it?
My standard answer this offseason has been unequivocally YES!
Exit Johnny Damon
Johnny Damon is going to be missed in the clubhouse and at the plate, but at this point in his career, and actually for the last several years, he has become a major defensive liability. He also received his highest and best offer this offseason from the team he wanted to return too. Players have taken a hit to their pride in the past and less money than they think they're worth to return to the team that they truly want to play for. To me, Damon overvalued himself and what he can offer at team at his age, and not being able to play a premiere position like center field anymore.
The clubhouse chemistry is going to be fine without him. The one thing that winning does to everyone on a team is bring them closer together. These players went into battle together in 2009 and came out champions, and the departure of one or two players is not going to take that away from the core of players that are still with the team. All this means is that someone else is going to have to step up, like David Cone did in the mid 1990s and be the go-to guy on a daily basis to answer the brunt of reporters' questions.
Enter Curtis Granderson
Curtis Granderson is truly one of the more talented, young outfielders in the game today. In 2007, he pulled off the 20-20-20-20 (More than 20 2Bs, 20 3Bs, 20 HRs, and 20 SBs in a single season) feat, which has only been done a handful of times in the history of baseball. This is a five-tool star that will be just 29 on March 16th in the midst of the prime of his career. Last season, he only had a .249 average and a .327 OBP, but he did slug 30 home runs and score 91 runs. In his two previous seasons combined he hit .292 with a .363 OBP, hit 45 homers, drove in 140 runs, score 234 runs, stole 38 bases and had an OPS of .887.
In this Yankees lineup, with all of the protection that he will receive, I expect that he will return to the numbers he posted from just a couple of seasons ago while adding his power bat from last season, especially being a lefty in the new Yankee Stadium. He is an upgrade defensively from anyone that was playing in the Yankees outfield last season.
Exit Melky Cabrera
Stop with the sentimentality people! Melky is not a big-time player and in return, the Yankees got a pitcher that gives them one of the strongest starting staffs in baseball.
Enter Javier Vazquez
The one thing I'm tired of hearing this offseason, is how Yankee fans hate this move. They received a pitcher that averages, 200+ innings, 200+ strikeouts and wins 12-15 games for a fan favorite outfielder who will amount to nothing more than a career fourth outfielder outside of this Yankees lineup. The Yankees already have a bona fide ace with CC Sabathia and two really good pitchers behind him with A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte. With Vazquez, they've added the model of a consistent pitcher as their fourth starter. Not many teams in baseball can boast that they have a Javy Vazquez type starter as their No. 2 pitcher. Just ask the Mets!
I know a lot of people are sour about the last time Vazquez donned the pinstripes and have a bad taste in their mouth from the forgettable Game 7 in the 2004 ALCS. This is a different Javy Vazquez. On that team he was asked to be the ace of that staff, replacing the likes of Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens. Also, he was hurt in the second half of the season and pitched down the stretch in pain. He still ended the season 14-10 and made the All-Star team. He would have had a much better campaign if not for the injuries.
All I ask the Yankees fan is to give him a chance. Forget the past. He knows he has something to prove and is motivated to do so. If he pitches the way he is capable of pitching, the Yankees will have a heck of a rotation. This is a team that won a championship with three very good/great starting pitchers and adding one more will just make them even more of contender to get back to the Fall Classic.
Exit Hideki Matsui, enter Nick Johnson
When you look up clutch in the dictionary, there should be a picture of Hideki Matsui next to it. In his final game in pinstripes, Matsui showed the Yankees faithful why the team signed him seven years prior. His tenure with the team will be remembered by that wonderful November night that he had in 2009 and the World Series MVP trophy that he will take with him. Matsui will be missed, but, again, age is a factor. He is one injury away from possibly retiring. He can't play the field anymore and has bad knees. In 2006 and 2008, he was limited to 51 and 93 games. He could very well have a good year for the Angels and I hope he does, but the Yankees felt it was in their best interest to not only get younger, but add a true designated hitter who could get on base and still play in the field when asked to.
Nick Johnson will be the Yankees everyday DH and play first base to give Mark Teixeira a rest every once in a while. Johnson is still a decent first basemen, but the lure to Johnson was his .426 OBP last season and .420 OBP over the last four seasons combined. Johnson has had injury problems in the past, but the thinking is that as a DH, he will be able to stay healthy, which he basically has anyway three of the last four seasons. His power numbers went way down last season, as he hit just eight home runs, but he is capable of still hitting the long ball, especially in the middle of this lineup and in Yankee Stadium. They will expect Derek Jeter and Johnson to set the table for the rest of the potent lineup by getting on base.
Left/center field situation
The Yankees have a good problem if you ask me. They signed Randy Winn to play the outfield. Winn is a very good defensive outfielder and can play center and both corner outfield positions. His offensive numbers may have dipped last season, but he is still a professional hitter. Granderson can play both center and left as well. That may very well make him the everyday left fielder once the season begins, with Winn and Brett Gardner playing center.
Marcus Thames will provide a power bat off the bench and is still very capable of playing in the field as well.
The old adage is that defense and pitching wins championships, well this World Series champion upgraded in both areas this offseason, while keeping their offensive prowess intact. To me, this is a team that should be the preseason favorite to win a second consecutive World Series title.