October 1, 2009

Answering a few questions heading into the postseason…

The Yankees have already clinched the division, but they still have one more series left with the Rays. Let’s take a look at some questions that need to be answered regarding this team’s playoff hopes…

1. What is the Yankees’ strength going into October?
It has to be their offense. A close second would be their bullpen, but it’s the offense that has carried them all year. They have the most runs and homers, and are one point below the Angels for the major league lead. Their bullpen in the second half anchored by Mariano Rivera and Phil Hughes could be a dominant force in the playoffs.

2. What worries you about the team?
A.J. Burnett. He’s a total wild card. He’s never pitched in the postseason, and he’s almost as inconsistent as Joba Chamberlain. Burnett could be the x-factor if he continues his hot pitching and the Yanks win the World Series.

3. What player left off or added to the postseason roster would surprise casual observers, if it happens?
There is a chance Chamberlain doesn’t make the ALDS roster. The Yanks wouldn’t need him to start a game if they choose the longer series, and they probably don’t want to tinker with his arm by putting him in the bullpen and then move him back to the rotation in the ALCS and beyond. 

4. Who is the one key player for the Yankees, the player that if they don’t go well, the Yankees will be home quickly?
It’s hard to single out one person in the offense for this because they have such a deep lineup, but I would have to say that man would be Alex Rodriguez. Remember when Mark Teixeira couldn’t hit anything in April? A-Rod wasn’t around. I don’t know if A-Rod made all the difference for Teixeira’s turnaround, but I know he had an effect.

A-Rod also has some proving to do. He’s the richest player in baseball, and it’s time for him to show that he can hit when it really counts. If the Yanks fall in the ALDS, and A-Rod only winds up with two hits, everyone knows where the blame is going. He still has a lot of his career left, so he has a chance to change his reputation for always failing in the postseason.

5) Even with last year's lack of October, are the expectations still that the Yankees will win the Series and, if they don't, it's a disappointing year?
I hate to sound like a broken record, but yes. The World Series is the only thing the Yankees covet. Making the playoffs is assumed. This 2009 ballclub is by far the closest they’ve come to duplicating the dream team of 1998. With the best record in baseball, almost every analyst is favoring the Yanks in the postseason. And why wouldn’t they? What other team is built better as a whole? They have the numbers, and they have what’s beyond the numbers. The ability to win. With 15 walk-off hits, they lead the majors. It’s not like one guy is getting all of them either. Everyone from Juan Miranda to A-Rod has taken a pie to the face.

That’s all for now. Let me know if you have any more questions! I love interacting with my readers.

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