2009 Baseball Preview
This year, the best baseball comes from the Big Apple
I am a devout Yankee fan.
What that really means is I probably hate the Yankees more than almost anyone. It's difficult to understand where the disdain comes from, but it's presence is undeniable. With lofty expectations (which the Yankees have every year) comes the potential for unprecedented failure. Last year, the taste of defeat came in the regular season when the Bronx Bombers failed to make the playoffs. It was an excruciating experience, and one that I will not soon forget.
In the offseason, the front office went out and did what it does best: Find the biggest names available and pay them top dollar. That strategy hasn't worked so well since about 2003, but this year, things should be different.
The biggest change is pitching. With C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Chien-Ming Wang and Andy Pettitte, the Yankees have arguably the best starting pitching staff in the American League. If Phil Hughes can shake off injury and provide some decent innings in the fifth starter spot, flame thrower Joba Chamberlain can move back to his preferred slot, setting up for closer Mariano Rivera. The bullpen is stocked with a bunch of good, young arms who should be able to provide a lot of innings when the starters falter.
On offense, the addition of Mark Teixeira at first base makes an already solid lineup a formidable one, even if Alex Rodriguez doesn't come back at full-strength from injury.
In the National League, the New York Mets are the team to beat. Last year, the Mets choked down the stretch for the second season in a row. The biggest problem for the team all of last year was their bullpen. This year, the Mets added closer Francisco Rodriguez and setup man J.J. Putz, making the Mets relief staff a powerful force instead of a glaring weakness. The Mets lineup remains intimidating and pitcher Johan Santana is a stellar ace. If they can climb past the Phillies in the NL East and secure home-field advantage in the playoffs, the Mets will make it to the World Series.
The question for both the Yankees and the Mets is can these teams perform when it counts? Both have shown a recent propensity for crumbling under pressure.
Still, I have faith that both clubs will overcome their cowardice. In a subway series, the Yankees win in six games.