With spring training now approaching, we can start to get get a feel for the answers and solutions to the questions facing the Yankees in 2009. Although this club is probably the strongest that the Yankees have had in the last few years, there are still plenty of issues that they will need to resolve to have a successful season. Without further delay, here is my annual list of the top 25 questions facing the Yankees going into 2009, in no particular order.
1) What can the Yankees expect from Jorge Posada? They need him to produce like a middle of the order hitter while being adequate behind the plate. Is his shoulder ready for the everyday grind?
2) Who wins the CF job? Will Melky bounce back, or will Brett Gardner show a modicum of offensive talent? Might the Yankees give up on both and shift Johnny Damon to center?
3) Does Girardi go with Nady or Swisher everyday in RF? Was Nady’s 2008 a fluke? What about Swisher’s?
4) Will Robbie Cano bounce back, or has he started a Juan Samuel/Carlos Baerga type dive?
5) How will Joe Girardi adjust his style? He needs to work a bit on platooning and working with the media.
6) Who will set up for Mariano? Marte? Veras? Bruney? Melancon?
7) Which was the real Jose Veras, the one who dominated over the first half or the one who stunk for the last two months of 2008?
8 ) Will Edwar Ramirez ever find a way to avoid being a homer or strikeout type of guy? Can he supplement his amazing changeup with another effective pitch?
9) Is Mariano Rivera healthy enough to continue asserting his dominance over the AL?
10) How much do the Yankees get from their rookie relievers, David Robertson and Mark Melancon? Do they make the team out of camp?
11) How will the Yankees limit the inning of Joba Chamberlain? What do they do when he reaches his ceiling?
12) Can Phil Hughes stay healthy enough to utilize his strong skill set?
13) Is Ian Kennedy’s skill set good enough to succeed at the MLB level?
14) Was Derek Jeter’s rough 2008 due to an injured hand, or has he started to decline?
15) How will Alex Rodriguez deal with the questions about PED’s that are sure to surround him?
16) Who bats 3rd, 4th, and 5th? Does it go Teixeira, A-Rod, and Posada? Are Tex and A-Rod flipped? Does Matsui hit 5th?
17) What kind of performance can the Yankees expect from the now chronically injured Hideki Matsui? Can he stay on the field?
18) Will the Yankees bring in a veteran with some pop to be the utility infielder, or will the battle come down to Cody Ransom and Angel Berroa?
19) Can A.J. Burnett stay healthy while continuing to perform at a high level?
20) Will Andy Pettitte bounce back from a subpar 2008?
21) Can C.C. Sabathia and Mark Teixeira live up to their contracts and handle the glare of New York?
22) Will the Yankees go bargain shopping for an available Type A free agent, being that they would only need to give up a 4th round pick?
23) How will the players deal with all of the controversy regarding Torre’s book and A-Rod’s steroid use? Will it be a major distraction?
24) Who will be the long reliever? It seems to be a contest between Dan Giese and Al Aceves.
25) Who will be this year’s Scott Patterson and perform surprisingly well in camp?
What do you think the answers to these questions will be? Chime in below.