Five Keys For The 2011 Yankees
Spring Training games have finally begun for the New York Yankees! The Bronx Bombers enter the season with a bunch of questions to answer and some roster spots to fill.
So what are my five keys for the Yankees 2011 to be able to reach the playoffs and to a 28th World Series title?
Key #1 Starting Pitching: The New York Yankees enter spring training with the fourth and fifth starting
rotation spots vacant and waiting to be filled. Andy Pettitte announced his retirement in the off-season, which led to the extra rotation spot empty, and also the Yankees were unsuccessful in signing free agent Cliff Lee, who decided to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies. Instead, the Yanks made a flurry of off-season acquisitions to create a competition for these two spots. Candidates for the two rotation positions include Sergio “the experience” Mitre, Ivan Nova, Bartolo Colon (signed to a minor league contract during the off-season), Freddy Garcia (signed during the off-season), and Mark Prior (signed to a minor league contract during the off-season). Now so far Mark Prior has been pain-free, and Bartolo Colon has been throwing his fastball in the low 90s. Bottom line, the Yankees need one of these players to step up during this season or you can consider 2011 to be a “rebuilding year” for the Bronx Bombers!
Key #2 The Catcher: The Yankees over the off-season informed Jorge Posada, the Yankees’ long-time veteran catcher, that he would be their club’s full time DH in 2011. As a result, the Yankees signed Russell Martin, who had been with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Martin is an above average catcher although is he injury-prone and is coming off of off-season surgery. Yankees hope Martin can be their full-time catcher and be well-established behind the plate. But in the mix will be Francisco Cervelli and also Jesus Montero to compete as the backup to Martin. It’ll be interesting to see how manager Joe Girardi works the catching position in 2011.
Key #3 The DH: Last season, the Yankees didn’t have an actual DH player. So this position was rotated amongst numerous players. Marcus Thames did end up taking the majority of appearances at DH due to his solid bat and his sub-par defense. Yankees hope that Jorge Posada can be that everyday DH and provide the club with consistent power from that position in their lineup each game!
Key #4 The utility players: Yankees picked up Andruw Jones during the off-season to serve as a fourth outfielder, the roster spot that was occupied by Marcus Thames last year. Joe Girardi commented that Andruw Jones provides the same sort of power Thames provided last year in the lineup, but Andruw Jones is a better defender as well for the outfield. Last year Marcus Thames would play a shaky outfield making several questionable fielding plays in right or left field. The Yankees hope Andruw Jones can provide stability out there!
Finally, Key #5 The Bullpen: In the off-season, the Yankees re-signed their future hall of famer in
Mariano Rivera, signed Rafael Soriano, and also signed veteran Pedro Feliciano. Yankees on paper have one of the best bullpens in the majors. All of this holds true as long as Mariano can stay reasonably healthy and effective. If not, the Yankees know they have a great backup closer in Soriano, who turned in over 40 saves for the Tampa Bay Rays last season! If everyone stays healthy and the starting pitchers can pass the ball with a lead to this bullpen, watch out!
So these five keys will dictate the 2011 season for the New York Yankees. The BIGGEST key is certainly the starting pitching out of the five listed. If the Yankees can remain competitive until June or July, I can see the Yankees making a big trade for a number one or two type pitcher. If you asked me which pitcher I can see the Yankees trying to trade for, my guess is Josh Johnson. He’s young, he’s very talented, he’s got the stuff to compete in the AL east, and lets face it, the Marlins don’t like to spend and they are building their team around Hanley Ramirez. A lot of Yankee fans assume the Yankees will trade for Felix Hernandez. But keep in mind that trade talks did not end well last season when the two clubs were negotiating the tentative Cliff Lee trade that never happened! So these are my keys to success, or failure, for this season’s New York Yankees.