Remember This?

Posted: September 29, 2011 by Keith Stone in baseball, MLB, Yankees

Just for fun, here’s the Yankees’ season preview I wrote back in March. Sorry for not being completely accurate with the projected finish:

After failing to get Cliff Lee or any significant free agents this offseason, a sense of negativity has permeated the Yankees as they head into the 2011 season. Compounded with the signings of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez by Boston, expectations are tempered compared to years past. However, the Bombers lost no players of note besides the aging Andy Pettitte. You would think that the Yankees were a .500 team last year, BUT THEY FUCKING WON 95 GAMES AND CAME TWO WINS AWAY FROM THE WORLD SERIES!

Expectations shouldn’t be any lower than last year when the Yanks were the defending champs and expected to repeat. They led the AL East for most of the year and only lost out to Tampa Bay at the end because they didn’t want to play Texas in the playoffs.

The strength of the Yankees lineup has always been the ability to wear the opponent out. It’s relentless. Having Curtis Granderson batting in the 8-hole is an enormous fucking luxury. By being patient and working every at-bat, starting pitchers are gassed by the time they reach the seventh inning stretch and then it’s time to pounce. It’s the same in 2011.

If anything, the lineup should be even stronger this year. Alex Rodriguez is healthy for the first time in years and Derek Jeter is out to prove that he isn’t washed up. Robbie Cano, Nick Swisher, and Brett Gardner are all young guys coming off career years and will continue to improve. Russell Martin at catcher is the only question mark, but he should be an upgrade defensively over Jorge Posada, and Jesus Montero is waiting in the wings if it doesn’t work out.

Yankee fans are spoiled by this embarrassment of riches. If there’s one position where the player is below average, it’s not good enough and the entire team is awful. It’s OK to have one or two subpar players. The Yankees won the World Series with Ricky Ledee playing left field. Half the guys on the Giants last year couldn’t even hold A-Rod’s jock. That’s Cameron Diaz’s job anyway.

Everyone makes a big deal about the pitching staff with Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia as the 4- and 5-starters, but as long as CC is your ace, you can’t complain. He’s still one of the top pitchers in the majors and Phil Hughes was having a great season last year until he wore down. Keep in mind, he’s only 24 years old and won 18 games. A.J. Burnett sucked last year, but hopefully he and his pie-throwing skills will bounce back.

The Yankees always seem to have a surprise in the rotation. Aaron Small anybody? If Nova and Garcia can pitch well, 15 wins isn’t out of the question. And if they can’t cut it, Felix Hernandez and Francisco Liriano are already being mentioned in trade talks. The bullpen should be stronger with the addition of Rafael Soriano. With Joba working the seventh, the Yanks can hopefully shorten games to 6 innings, which will take the strain off the starters.

The past two seasons in the American League, it has only taken 90 and 88 wins to clinch a Wild Card berth, respectively. Barring injury, the Yankees should eclipse that number. Tampa Bay is weaker after losing Crawford and Soriano, and Minnesota, Texas, Detroit, Chicago and Oakland don’t exactly spread fear in Hank Steinbrenner’s heart. He’d be chain-smoking either way. Trust me.

The Red Sox will once again be the main rival, the way it should be. They did improve but Youkilis and PED-roia are coming off major injuries and the pitching staff is weaker than the Yankees. Buchholz is overrated. Beckett is old. Lackey is fat. They should win 90 games as well but they’re not the huge favorites that everyone is making them out to be.

For once, the Red Sox made all the noise over the winter, but as we’ve learned, it’s not pomp and circumstance that wins championships. It will be nice to have all the pressure on another team this year and fly under the radar. Don’t sleep on the Yankees.

Projected finish: 96-66, first in AL East

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