Posted on October 4, 2009 at 11:17 PMIf you were reading this blog before this season started, you may remember a series I did called "Playing Pepper", where I asked five questions of a blogger covering each major league team. With the season coming to a close, I thought I'd tap into the talents of the newly formed Baseball Bloggers Alliance and ask five new questions of the bloggers covering the postseason teams.
Filed Under: Baseball Bloggers Alliance
| New York Yankees
| Playing Pepper
The second in the series is the New York Yankees. I checked in with Lenny of Lenny's Yankees and Lisa of Subway Squawkers to see how the Bronx Bombers look heading into the second season. Lenny posted his results up over at his blog, but I've taken the liberty of reposting them here to correspond with Lisa's answers.
C70: What is the Yankees' strength going into October?
LY: 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.
SS: Their lineup is strong from top to bottom. They have a bonafide ace in CC Sabathia. But their most unsung attribute is the bullpen. Joe Girardi has done a masterful job here, and the Yankees wouldn't have been able to have those 15 walkoff wins without the bullpen keeping the team in check.
C70: What worries you about the team?
SS: That some strange twist of fate will befall the team. Like a swarm of bugs. Or outfielders colliding. Something unforeseen happening.
LY: 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.
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C70: What player left off or added to the postseason roster would surprise casual observers, if it happens?
LY: 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.
SS: Joba Chamberlain - he's taken A-Rod's place as the topic of controversy. If he's left off the roster, it will be a super-duper big deal: "No Joba for Chamberlain," etc.
C70: Who is the one key player for the Yankees, the player that, if they don't go well, the Yankees go home early?
SS: A bad start by CC would be deflating. So would Mark Teixeira flopping in the playoffs. A-Rod, sadly, is expected to fail in October, so it wouldn't have the same impact.
LY: 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.
C70: 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?
LY: 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.
SS: Absolutely. When you have a $200 million payroll, 103 wins, and the best team in baseball, you can't fail in the playoffs and consider the season successful. You just can't.
Thanks to Lenny and Lisa for their insights on the Yanks!