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February 12, 2009 at 9:27 am ET
Non A-Rod questions about the Yankees

God forbid we actually try to talk some baseball when it comes to the New York Yankees. But, pitchers and catchers report to George M. Steinbrenner Field Friday, so let’s try.

Not counting the Alex Rodriguez saga, since it has been covered to death, what concerns you most about this team as we near the opening of camp, Yankees fans?

Here are five things that concern me. Feel free to discuss, or add your own.

  1. The health of Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera. Both are recovering from shoulder surgery, and the Yankees are counting heavily on them. There are, realistically, no contingency plans if either of them does not make a full recovery. Posada is reportedly throwing well as he rehabs, but nobody knows if he can withstand catching 120 games. I have heard little about Rivera, but it seems everyone expects him to be fine. If he’s not, would the Yanks have Joba Chamberlain close?
  2. Joe Girardi. The Yankee manager is an excellent in-game tactician, but it is the rest of what goes along with being Yankee manager that I worry about. Handling the egos in the clubhouse, the distractions that come along with the circus atmosphere that forever seems to follow the Yankees, and dealing with the media. Girardi did not do well in these areas last season, and the Rodriguez mess, the Joe Torre book, the big free-agent signings and the fact that he is — probably — managing for his job won’t make any of that easier in 2009. If the Yanks miss the playoffs again, Girardi is probably gone.
  3. Center field. Will it be Brett Gardner? Melky Cabrera? Nick Swisher? Johnny Damon? Some combination of all four? No matter who it is, will the Yankees get some production from this position? The Yankees seem to hope first and foremost that Cabrera rebounds from his awful 2008 and plays more like he did in 2007 (.273, 8 home runs, 73 RBI). If either he or Gardner can hit adequately, that would be enough. Both are excellent center fielders, and that is what this team needs most.
  4. The bench. Specifically here, I am talking about the backup infield situation. Is Brian Cashman serious about entering Spring Training with Cody Ransom and Angel Berroa as his only utility infielder options? Nomar Garciaparra, Orlando Cabrera, Orlando Hudson and Mark Grudzielanek are among the guys still available. One of them might be willing to take a cheap one-year deal — most likely Garciaparra.
  5. Starting pitching health. How many starts will the Yankees get from Chamberlain and A.J. Burnett? Is Chien-Ming Wang fully recovered? Will Andy Pettitte’s elbow hold up for another season? When he is called on will Phil Hughes finally pitch like The Franchise, or will he contine to look like The Failure? The Yankees could have a dominant starting rotation — if everyone is healthy and it lives up to expectations. That is still a huge question, though.

Your thoughts, Yankee fans?

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8 Responses to “Non A-Rod questions about the Yankees”
  1. Jeff says:

    I think you pretty much nailed all of the major concerns, Ed. I do also worry that A-rod won’t be able to handle all of the vitriol that he is bound to be on the receiving end of this year. I can’t think of anything worse than divorce and roids that can interfere with his season, though.

  2. CC says:

    I agree, Ed. First and foremost, will Posada be healthy enough to return to full-time catching duties? 120 games is a bit of a stretch for his advanced age. I’d be satisfied with 100. Let’s pick up Orlando Cabrera and we can start the season.

  3. coops2001 says:

    A difficult situation for the Yankees is if Matsui, Damon, AND Posada all can’t play in the field. It might get crowded at the DH spot…

  4. Ed Valentine says:

    Yuck! Coops, don’t spoil my appetite. I don’t want to think about that!

  5. potroast says:

    I’d add Cano as a concern. His stat lines have been declining and he still doesn’t really seem to get what it takes to take the next step (specifically, he’s lazy). I hope he has been working hard and will rebound, but I have my doubts.

  6. Ed Valentine says:

    pot, nice to hear from you over here. What would be really nice is if the Yankees had someone who could push Cano for ABs. That, I think, will help Melky this year. He will have to earn his playing time. It would also help Cano if the Yanks had someone like Nomar who could force Cano to earn his playing time.

  7. billy says:

    I still am gonna bring up a deal that I think the Yankees should make…and this comes from a Astros fan in NY.

    If the Yankees can swing it

    send Hughes, Kennedy, Gardner, and Matsui

    to Seattle

    for Ichiro, Johjima, and Bedard

    I know that Ichiro is a God out in Seattle, but they get the Japanese player back in Hideki. They also free up money by not paying Bedard and Johjima, and allows Clement to grow as a catcher.

    The Yankees then put Ichiro in CF, and damon in LF

    if Posada must DH then keep Molina/Johjima. Posada healthy, trade Molina.

  8. Jeff says:

    Why do we even bother bringing up ridiculous trades that will never in a million years happen? I think it would be great if Ashley Judd, Angelina Jolie, and Charlize Theron were home waiting in my bed naked when I got there tonight. Chances are that will never happen, so I usually don’t bring it up.

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