MLB Preview :: The New York Yankees
Though the Bronx Bombers have not won a title since 2000, they appear as likely as ever to take home the team’s record 27th World Series at the of the 2009 season.
In the new book The Yankee Years (by former New York manager Joe Torre and Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci) pitcher Mike Mussina describes the culture built around a team that won the World Series three times in a row in the late 90s:
“It wasn’t about getting to the playoffs.” The veteran starter explained, “It was about getting there and winning. It didn’t matter how you got there, just get there and win.”
This could be the Yankees year to win again. With the new Yankee stadium opening, hopes, as always rest on longtime star Derek Jeter, but they fall anew on hired arms CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett, and newly acquired slugger Mark Teixeira. On just those three players, the Yankees will spend more than all but a handful of teams.
The burden to prove their value will fall onto all of the Yankee newbies, perhaps none more than the giant Sabathia, who was nearly unbeatable in dragging the Milwaukee Brewers to the playoffs last year. Sabathia joins an eclectic, storied and diverse New York pitching rotation of Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, Joba Chamberlain and the aforementioned Burnett, late of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Behind them, the Yankee star-chamber infield will include the four time champions Jeter and catcher Jorge Posada, budding star second basemen Robinson Cano, Teixeira, the first basemen who has more RBI over the past six years than all but seven players in the history of the game, and Alex Rodriguez, who begins the season out of the line-up, but still in the spotlight, manning third.
As has long been the case, the Yankees will try to make every game a contest of how fast they can get to their incomparable closer Mariano Rivera. Over his career, Rivera has more than earned his nickname “The Hammer of God” by being the most reliable closer the game has ever seen.
The Yankees have spent, literally, hundreds of millions of dollars to win that elusive 27-world championship, and perhaps just as importantly, assure that their blood rival the Boston Red Sox do not win their third of the decade.
If all that talent and money do no go to waste, 2009 could be the beginning of a new set of Yankee years.