New York Yankees Owner Predicts World Series Championship

The New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner made a bold and irrational prediction recently. He prophesied that his club would again hold the prestigious title of World Champions. Any of us that have taken even the quickest of peeks at the Yankees depth chart could tell you that Mr. Steinbrenner is having delusions of grandeur.

In an off-season that saw the Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox fortify their clubs in a myriad of trades and free agent acquisitions, the Yankees did surprisingly little. They retained the services of left fielder and Japanese heart throb Hideki Matsui, signed relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth and outbid their rival Red Sox for rock star center fielder and lead off man, Johnny Damon. A trio of excellent moves? Yes. Enough to turn last year’s 95-67 record and disappointing playoff performance into a World Series contender? Not a snowman’s chance in hell.

Since the Yankees last World Series title (2000) they have ceased to strike fear into the hearts of their opponents with any frequency. While the seemingly inexhaustible supply of dead presidents remains, the New York Yankees uncanny ability to win baseball games finally appears to be dwindling. If healthy, their offense can be as potent as any in the bigs but beyond the starting 9 there is little depth to speak of. The starting pitchers consist of 2 AARP applicants in Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina followed by a watered down troupe of slightly above average arms that only managed a combined 430.4 innings pitched last year. Not the characteristics of a championship caliber rotation.

Despite their own internal struggles, the Yankees face off against some of the toughest MLB competition right in their own division. The Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox made vast improvements this winter and let’s not forget that Baltimore had a firm grip on 1st place for a spell last year too. If they hadn’t lost a couple of arms to injury there’s no telling how long they may have sat atop the AL East.

Toronto addressed 2 important issues when they acquired starter A.J. Burnett and closer B.J. Ryan. A dominant closer with the ability to retire batters on either side of the plate and another pitcher to give them 30 starts and 200 innings behind Halladay will have a tremendous impact on the Jays ability to keep the bullpen fresh and win more of those 1 and 2 run games. Corner infielders Lyle Overbay and Troy Glaus will be powering an offense that also includes center fielder Vernon Wells (28 HR, 97 RBIs), DH and versatile utility man Shea Hillenbrand (.291 avg, 91 runs, 82 RBIs) and catcher Bengie Molina. (.295 avg, 15 HR, 69 RBIs)

Boston overhauled their infield with Gold Glove caliber defenders, artfully replaced Damon in center with a younger player of equal skill, added 2 proven vets to a bullpen that held leads like colanders hold water and added the 2003 World Series MVP to an already esteemed starting rotation that includes veterans Curt Schilling and Tim Wakefield, young fireballer Jonathan Papelbon and All-Star Matt Clement. The Red Sox depth isn’t limited to their pitching staff either. The bench players consist of infielders Tony Graffanino, J.T. Snow and Alex Cora as well as outfielders Adam Stern and Gabe Kapler. All solid options to have.
The New York Yankees have several hurdles to overcome both in house and in their division if a World Series trophy is to return to the Bronx. Even with every conceivable effort and stroke of luck, it looks as though the Evil Empire will have to wait another year for their reign of darkness to resume. So I ask you Mr. Steinbrenner, “How do you like them apples?”

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