Feb 112009

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.

11 Responses to “25 Issues For Spring Training”

  1. For me, the most important (& questionable) of those are #1,2,4, 11/12 (linked), 15, 17 & 19  (Quote)

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  2. A lot of the questions are tough to answer — but with regard to Matsui, as long as he remains DH and stays off the field, he should be all right. Unless the 3rd base coach waves him home from 2nd a la Wang.  (Quote)

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  3. My answers:
    1) I think they can expect him, offensively, to produce like he usually has, but not like 2007 or 2003. I’d say reasonable expectations would be a .270 average, an OPS safely over .800, and around 20 home runs. Defensively, probably below average, but not unbearably so. In terms of games, maybe 100-120 behind the plate.

    2) I don’t think they’ll shift Damon. Hopefully Melky and Gardner can at least be a touch below-average offensively. At the very least, they’ll provide good/great defense with good baserunning. Very reasonable for a 9 hitter. If they both suck, or more production is needed, I’m sure they can re-visit Mike Cameron talks.

    3) Start Nady. Give him a chance to show he can put up 2008 numbers. If not, than put in Swisher. He’s more versatile defensively, so he’ll be a more helpful bench player. If Nady, reverts back to pre-2008, put in Swisher, and play Nady against lefties.

    4) God, I hope he bounces back to the hitter he was before. He’s on my fantasy team.

    5) Now that he a decent bench option to platoon with Nady/Swisher, I’m sure he’ll do better in that regard. After that, I don’t know.

    6) Marte is definitely the default guy. I’d say Bruney’s second, and maybe Melancon later in the year.

    7) Combination of both. He has good stuff, but not control. He’ll be on and off type of guy.

    8 ) I doubt he’ll be able to pick up another pitch and have it be close to useful. That said, if he sharpens his command, he won’t make my heart stop after every pitch.

    9) Yes. It’s Mo.

    10) I doubt they’ll make the team. They’ll be up by the AS break, though. I think Melancon will be dominant, while the others are solid.

    11) Have him skip starts every once in a while, and plug in Kennedy/Hughes/Aceves. They could even put him on the DL for a while just to rest him.

    12) Yes he can. Will he? probably. Although, I doubt he’ll get more than 10 starts this year and MLB level, but will dominate AAA.

    13) It’s good enough. He just needs to keep his command sharp and his pitches down. I see him making 2 good starts, and 1 rough one, but dominate AAA.

    14) Injured hand. He’s capable of being one of the better offensive shortstops.

    15) A Bunch of “I’m sorry” and nothing else. Block it out so he can win his 4th MVP, hit 74 home runs, and win his first WS ring.

    16) Tex, A-Rod, Matsui. I think Matsui’s going to have a real nice year, and make us thankful he wasn’t traded. Type A after the season’s over.

    17) DH will keep him healthier. 130 games at DH, 10 in outfield. .300 average, 20 home runs, 95+ runs and RBI.

    18) Nomar. Just cause it’ll make Jeter, A-Rod, and Nomar. And he can actually be a real good hitter.

    19) Oh yeah. 18 wins, 3.60 ERA, 200+ K’s.

    20) He’ll be decent. Double-digit wins, ERA over 4.00. He won’t dominate, but gives the team a decent chance to win.

    21) They’d better.

    22) There really aren’t that many out there that’ll even be worth the roster spot and/or money.

    23) It won’t be a huge problem. They’ve dealt with similar distractions. It’ll all be erased once the storm out of the gate 15-0.

    24) You got it right.

    25) Jorge Vazquez and Mark Melancon (but not enough to make the team right away)  (Quote)

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  4. Also, with regard to the bull pen, there are so many good options now, that if one doesn’t work, there are always a couple players waiting to fill the roles. #9 if Mariano falters, that could be a problem, but with regard to #6, one of them should certainly emerge as the road to Mo. The first 3 all showed flashes of brilliance last year, while Melancon could very well be the answer if Mo slows down.

    Another question that wasn’t even asked was “Does the team carry a lefty specialist? As mentioned above, Marte is being seen more as a pitcher that can go for an inning or more. Coke was great in limited action, but was told to prepare as a starter– problably at AAA this year. Another possibility is Mike Dunn. Anthony McCarron mentioned that he was told by Mark Newman that Dunn could be a dark horse out of Spring training  (Quote)

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  5. Hmm. I usually like this guy, but Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports has this to say about the Yankees:

    “Certainly $200 million buys a lot. Not a bullpen. The Yankees could run into the same problem as last season with this bunch of characters: Damaso Marte, Brian Bruney, Jonathan Albaladejo and Edwar Ramirez. Not exactly the Nasty Boys.”

    I would have to disagree.;_ylt=AvUiCUDZYM5X8lAZc8iLi0gRvLYF?slug=jp-aleastpreview020909&prov=yhoo&type=lgns  (Quote)

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  6. Wow, Jeff Passan is, how you say, not too smart. They had the 5th best bullpen ERA last year despite being forced to pitch the 2nd most innings. They should be even better this year w/ their young guys maturing (and their pen is VERY young except for MO). That’s just an ignorant statement.

    Nice catch, J-Gao  (Quote)

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    Anthony G. Reply:

    I agree Tom (and J-Gao).

    Completely off base RE: the bullpen.

    I also believe Melancon could make the big club out of camp with the only reason he begins at AAA is because of the Yankees FO, not his performance.  (Quote)

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  7. I think it goes Teixeira-Arod-Matsui. Just my guess.

    The Yankee bullpen is going to be scary good next year. Mo, Melancon, Coke, Marte, Edwar, Veras, Robertson, Bruney… that’s a fantastic crew.  (Quote)

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  8. Damon, Nady, Kennedy, Matsui?

    What the hell?  (Quote)

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    Moshe Mandel Reply:

    You are on last season’s list. This season’s list is posted on the main page.  (Quote)

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    Troy Reply:

    I have no idea how that happened. My apologies.  (Quote)

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