Here's why they'll make the playoffs again:
- The offense: Damon, Jeter, Abreu, A-Rod, Giambi, Matsui, Posada, Cano, Mientkiewicz/Phelps. The most impressive thing about it, is not the power, not the average, but the .OBP - it will be the best in baseball, and it'll be enough to wear down any pitching rotation 2 out of 3 games and average over 6 runs per. Cano is such a superstar in the making - he'll be even better this year.
- The Pitching: Rivera, Proctor, Pettitte, Mussina, and Wang. Everyone talks about Mo and Moose, and Pettite etc. Proctor, I thought was the 2nd most important pitcher last year for the Yanks. Hopefully with Vizcaino in the mix, this will reduce the probability of over-use and will still have some gas left come playoff time.
When the dynasty began in 1996, there was a combination of tested veterans (like those listed above) with younger or in some cases, just unknowns that seemed to be sprinkled in and come up big when it mattered the most. - I mean, Jeter was not Jeter in 1996, and remember Shane Spencer?? With that formula in mind...
Here's what has to happen to win it all:
- When called up or called upon, and they will be, for those spot starts, Rassner, Hughes, and Karstens have to eat quality innings and get some victories
- Igawa and Pavano need to give them at least 20 quality starts each, and have an ERA sub 4 - Farnsworth needs to be consistent, and when called on, use that damn heater of his to get the job done over and over and over again
- Mussina and A-Rod have a strong April, and an even stronger September and October
- Mientkiewicz bats .250, and Phelps performs like he has in Spring Training when he gets his time in the field
- Cabrera's production continues to climb even though his playing time will likely be sporatic if not in decline
- Vizcaino adjusts smoothly to pitching in NY, and continues to make his 70 appearances in relief
- Cairo and Phillips need to produce when filling in
- And finaly, the back up to Jorge, be it Nieves or Pratt need to produce to at least the .225 level for offensive production when giving Posada his much needed rest
That is a lot that needs to happen in order to take down the big prize - no doubt about it and is enough to make even the most staunch supporter a little queasy. However, compare those questions facing this team to what other clubs are facing. Suddenly, you realize, that our issues, do not appear as bad as most of the other teams in the American League. Reason to be optimistic.
If, the unknowns step up when called upon, combined with one of the most balanced line ups in baseball today, it will be enough to win the whole damn thing. The wait, is over, 2007, the Bombers get it done.