9 Yankees to Watch in ’09

Happy New Year, Everyone!  Get excited that this was the last new year where those “200x” glasses can be used, so that alone should mean a happy new year.  As for the New York Yankees, my favorite discussion piece, they missed the playoffs in 2008 for the first time since 1993 and there will be a lot to watch in 2009 as the team moves across the street into New Yankee Stadium.  Being that this is 2009, I’m in a festive mood, so here are 9 Yankees to watch in ’09.

  • Robinson Cano – Where was he in 2008?  I am hoping that Joe Girardi‘s late-season benching of Cano gets him fired up enough to return to form.  Scouts predicted him to be a .320/30/100 guy, but for this year let’s get that average over .300.
  • Joba Chamberlain – So far he has handled being thrown between the rotation and the ‘pen very well.  All signs point that that shuffle continuing in ’09, with the Yanks expecting 20-ish starts.  Let’s see how he holds up.
  • AJ Burnett – Here’s to hoping he doesn’t channel his inner Carl Pavano and wind up on the DL for most of his (gasp!) five year contract.  I am very worried about this signing, but they’re paying him a lot, so a lot will be expected.
  • CC Sabathia – Speaking of expectations, I worry that Yankee fans will expect CC to do too much.  He just needs to go out there, be himself, and win 28 games to be successful.
  • Jorge Posada – His bat was sorely missed this season and the Yanks need the switch-hitter to make it back for the sake of the lineup.  I would say that the team missed the way he handles the pitching staff, but Name that Molina did such a great job, that I think they’ll be ok in that regard.  If he can’t throw, where do they put him?  Firstbase is now occupied.
  • Bob Shepherd – Sure, he’s not a player but the longtime PA announcer missed pretty much all of the 2008 season, with a cameo on the last game at Yankee Stadium.  He’s at least 90 years old and would love to make it to the new stadium, but failing health will make that determination.  I’m rooting for him to do at least half of the season.
  • The Steinbrenners – I know I cheated here.  George has been kept in the shadows the last couple years, with an appearance at the 2008 All-Star game.  I think his health is much worse than anyone lets on, but once the new stadium opens, his life’s work will be complete.  As for his kids, Hal has been in charge of the stadium construction, so let’s see how that works.  Hopefully, Hank will learn to shut up, but I doubt it.
  • Joe Girardi Joe Torre never missed the playoffs.  With over $400 million committed to three All-Stars during the off-season, if Girardi doesn’t make it to the World Series or at least the ALCS, I think he’s gone.
  • Alex Rodriguez – It’s always easy to put A-Rod on a list like this, so here’s my reason.  With the big spending of the off-season, the Yankees are the pre-season favorite to win the World Series.  To win the World Series, the Yanks will NEED A-Rod to hit in October, something he hasn’t proven he can do consistently.  He also needs to rebound from a “mediocre” 2008 during the regular season.

Honorable Mentions: The Outfield, for being a complete mess of inconsistency; Mariano Rivera, for getting older (I worry he’s bound to start to decline sooner or later); Derek Jeter, for his slipping skill set; The Back End of the Rotation, for being a big question mark.

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