Key Additions---Russell Martin, Rafael Soriano
Key Losses---Andy Pettite
Lineup---The addition of Martin allows Posada to become a full time DH for this team, which should make him a better hitter throughout the year. I would have loved Adam Dunn on this team, but despite that they still have one of the most potent lineups in baseball. Despite aging, A-Rod and Jeter will continue to put up all-star numbers. Gardner is much improved and should help jump start this lineup. A big key will be whether or not Cano can put up the monster year that he had last year, and if this lineup can stay healthy. If so, they would go a long way to carrying this team to a potential postseason birth.
Rotation---Let's face it, this team was absolutely shocked and in disbelief at their inability to sign Cliff Lee. But I believe in the long run this will benefit them. But the Yankees don't care about the long run, so let's look at the short term. CC Sabathia still anchors this rotation, and should put up normal CC numbers. Considering he may be up for a new contract with a monster year, I expect him to do so. Can Phil Hughes continue to develop as he did last year??? If so, he is a very solid 2. AJ Burnett is a big question mark, but gives a good 3 option when he is on. The loss of Pettite is huge, as they now have to rely on Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre. They will need one if not both of these players to put up a solid 2011 in order for the Yankees to stay in the race with the Red Sox. But, don't count out Pettite returning later in the year a la Roger Clemens. I just hope that Suzyn Waldman has an off night or we will be subject to another goodness gracious!!!
Bullpen---The addition of Soriano to Mariano Rivera gives the Yankees a very potent 8-9th inning punch. If Soriano can match what he did last year, Joe Girardi has the luxury of playing 7 inning games, knowing that getting to the 8th with a leads means a win. This could become very important with the back end of the rotation that they are starting the season with. And watch out for the return of Joba Chamberlain in a 7th inning role.
Impact Rookie---Ivan Nova, RHP. While it's tempting to pick uberstud Jesus Montero, off-season circumstances make Nova a prime rotation candidate, and that position is more crucial to the Yankees short term success. He's already started 7 games for the Bombers last season and went 12-3, 2.86 in 23 AAA starts.
Outlook---If I would have told you that the Yankees would not reach the World Series in 2010, and yet would add a average catcher and 8th inning set up guy only, you would have called me crazy. But that is exactly what they did. After they lost out on Lee, I love what they did standing pat. This is a team that may have to bash their way to wins, but that is possible with this lineup. And ultimately, they will add pieces if someone is out there who catches their eye. At the end of the day, they are the Yankees, and they will be right in the thick of the pennant chase.
Brad Koesters, MLB Correspondent.
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