Posted By Chasing Records on April 4, 2012
The New York Yankees’ 2011 ALDS loss to the Detroit Tigers left us all scratching our heads. Should the Yankees sign Albert Pujols? Will CJ Wilson join the Bombers? Is Yu Darvish the real thing? Brian Cashman and the Yankees’ front office, once again, preached patience. Pujols and Wilson joined the Angels, while Darvish signed with Texas, heating up the AL West race for sure. It appeared that the Yankees would go with what they had, hoping to regain the magic that was the 2009 season. That was until a Friday night in mid-January. Jesus Montero was out, and right-handed phenom Michael Pineda was in. Hiroki Kuroda signed a one-year contract, and AJ Burnett was dumped off to Pittsburgh, a move the Pirates are already regretting after bunting practice. Even Andy Pettitte decided to join the fun, announcing a comeback on March 16.
Last year’s rotation, pieced together with Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, and even someone named Brian Gordon, still won the AL East and finished with the best record in the league. This year’s rotation has too many starting pitchers, a great problem the Yankees haven’t had to deal with in many, many years. This year’s question mark won’t be pitching. It won’t be the offense, which should be able to score enough runs without Jesus Montero. This year’s question mark will be health and durability. Joba Chamberlain’s status is up in the air (no pun intended) after an unfortunate trampoline accident. Alex Rodriguez claims to be healthy, but can he last an entire season? Derek Jeter’s OTHER calf has been bothering him this spring, and Nick Swisher has missed a couple of Spring weeks with a bad groin.
Yankee fans should fully expect this year’s team to win the American League East Division. If you’re a fan like me, God help us in a one-game Wild Card playoff, which is one of the worst ideas in baseball history. Can you say heart attack? Can anyone out there imagine a one-game playoff with the Boston Red Sox? I guess it worked out in ‘78, but after all the garbage that happened in ‘04, I’m not sure if I’d make it the full nine innings. So this year, the rules really force you to play for the division title. And who’s to blame? Not sure, but check Joe Girardi’s starting lineups in September of 2010, when the Yankees ended up as the Wild Card winner. The Yankees will win the 2012 AL East, and I won’t make any playoff predictions. Too unfair to predict what might happen in a short series against any of these teams.
Who’s Gotta Go: To me, it’s Freddy Garcia. I don’t know why Ivan Nova should have to fight for his rotation spot. After his 2011 season, and his ALDS Game 1 performance, he’s a sure thing to me. Phil Hughes is only 25 and is throwing well, and the Yanks gave up their number one prospect to sign Pineda. So Freddy has to go. When Pettitte is ready to go, it’s a whole different story.
Best Off-Season Move: Andy Pettitte’s comeback is a lot of fun for fans, and Michael Pineda eventually will pay off. But this year’s biggest acquisition is Hiroki Kuroda. The guy barely had an ERA over 3.00 last season, and I’ve had the chance to watch a couple of his Spring Training outings. He is the real deal, and he’s back working with his old battery-mate, Russell Martin. In 2012, Kuroda will prove to be the biggest move Cashman made in the off-season.
Biggest Off-Season Mistake: Not trading Nick Swisher. Obviously trading Burnett was a tremendous accomplishment, but picking up Swisher’s option may not pay off for the club. Hal Steinbrenner wants to cut payroll, so why keep Swisher? After three horrendous post-seasons in a row, you’d have thought the guy would have worn out his welcome by now. I forgot, “he’s great in the clubhouse.”
2012 MVP: Call me crazy, but the Yankees’ MVP in 2012 will be first baseman Mark Teixeira. Many fans, including myself, wanted Teixeira out of here after the ‘11 campaign, begging the owners to figure out a way to accommodate Pujols. There was no way Tex was going anywhere, and he came into Spring Training 15 pounds lighter. His swing looks quicker, and I’ve seen a number of base hits to left field. He’ll be more productive, and the average will climb. There’s less pressure on him with a full season hitting fifth, so I’m expecting big things from Teixeira.
2012 Goat: The season hasn’t even started, and it’s already Joba Chamberlain, IF he doesn’t make it back to pitch this season. All we heard about was the great progress he was making rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, and then the trampoline happened. I get it that he was playing with his kid, but with Joba, if it’s not one thing, it’s another. Just imagine a bullpen of Chamberlain, Soriano, Robertson, and Rivera. Seems like it’d be a pretty sure thing after the fifth inning.
As we look forward to another great season of Yankees baseball… my advise to the Chasing800 Faithful is to sit back, buckle your seat belt, and enjoy the ride. Baseball is back, and the Yankees are better than they were last season!
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