We are now less than a week from the greatest day of the year, opening day, and our hearts are starting to beat a little faster. It is time to preview the rest of the the Rays divisional rivals. Rather than have us rant about the inadequacies of the other teams and how jealous we are of their payrolls, we decided we would call in the experts. Over the next four days a different guest writer will preview his/her team. We have turned to our favorite team blogs for writers that would provide an entertaining, passionate and completely biased view. (click “continue reading” at bottom for the complete post)

Up next: New York Yankees *insert Star Wars Imperial Death March Music*. Our guest author is Yankees Chick of the aptly titled Yankees Chick. This was the most difficult assignment to fill. Approaching a Yankees fan and asking them to help out with our Devil Rays site just didn’t seem like the right thing to do. It’s the Evil Empire. It is the team with the $200 million payroll. It’s the team that is more popular in our own city than our Rays are. But, with as much time as we spend in the Big Apple, we do follow the Spankees closely and for all their faults, Yankees fans are the MOST passionate baseball fans, hands down. Yankees Chick has a great site. For all their baseball passion, most Yankees fans are blowhards, but Ms. Chick keeps it level-headed and entertaining and her site is the place we hit up first whenever we need to get caught up on all things Yankees. Enjoy…

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It’s been nearly 6 months since the end of the 2006 season for the Yanks, and they have not been sitting idly on their laurels waiting for another chance in 2007. The Yankees have been working hard all winter, dropping some dead weight and making sure to give the youngsters and their new acquisitions plenty of playing time during Spring Training. Monday afternoon’s game against Tampa Bay is looming ever nearer, so let’s take a look at what the Yankees have been up to since October and what we can expect for the next 9 months. (I have touched on just the moves I consider to have had the most impact on the team; please do not email me hundreds of “you forgot to mention Sal Fasano!!!” notes)

Ditched:
Randy Johnson
Jaret Wright
Gary Sheffield
Bernie Williams
Octavio Dotel
Tanyon Sturtze
Aaron Guile

Fresh Blood:
Andy Pettitte
Kei Igawa
Doug Mientkiewizc
Todd Pratt
Josh Phelps
Chris Britton
Humberto Sanchez
Luis Vizcaino

Boo-Boos
Bobby Abreu
sustained a strained oblique and missed the first few weeks of the spring, but since coming back he’s had 2 homers, 1 double, 1 triple, and 5 RBI’s and has walked his OBP up to .476, so it doesn’t look like we have anything to worry about in the long run. Wang strained his hamstring just last week and likely won’t be able to return until the end of April, which has caused a bit of trouble in the rotation, but he should be able to bounce right back from the strain and have another great season. Andy Pettitte gave us a bit of a scare when he missed a start due to back spasms, and most recently, 5th starter candidate Jeff Karstens felt some “tightness” in his elbow and left a game early, but luckily both Pettitte and Karstens have sprung back from their ailments. Of course, one cannot leave out our dear friend Carl Pavano when discussing injuries: he had a relatively smooth spring, suffering only a bruised foot and a close encounter with a swarm of bees (no, that is not a joke.).
Continue reading…
Batter Me Up:
Much of the roster will look the same as last year: A-Rod, Jeter, Cano, Damon, Matsui, Abreu, Melky, Posada, and Giambi are staples, of course, and Cairo is back to serve as utility man once more. Torre wisely determined that the Yankees would be better off putting Giambi in the DH spot and letting others take over the defensive duties at 1st, so it looks like Mientky will be sharing that role with Josh Phelps (Andy Phillips was considered the obvious co-firstbaseman when Torre first announced the plan to “platoon” the position, but Phelps has been on fire all spring so Phillips is out of luck).

That Brenda Walsch is Such a Pitch: 2007’s pitching staff is not exactly the stuff of legends, but with the Yanks’ offense, who cares? As long as the starting 5 can keep a collective ERA of 5.00 or below, we’ll let the offense take care of the rest. Wang, Pettitte, Moose, Pavano (assuming those bees don’t follow him to the Bronx) and Igawa will be the starting rotation (until inevitable injuries set in on one or all of them); Mariano, Farnsworth, Proctor, and Myers are lined up for relief, but there are still many other spots for the likes of Karstens, Henn, Britton, Vizcaino, Rasner, Bruney….

Lords of the 27th Ring:
If the Yankees are really going to win this in ’07 (which would require actually getting past the ALDS…), there are a few folks that could really make it or break it for them:
A-Rod - If he goes on a hot streak, he has the power to amp up the entire team. If he falls apart mentally (again), he can bring the morale down right with him.
Clemens - I will continue to cross my fingers that Steinbrenner will dupe the Rocket into returning. I don’t care how old he is or how ridiculous his demands are, I will take the Rocket over 99.9% of all MLB pitchers in a second.
Hughes - Hopefully he won’t be needed this year, but if there are enough implosions and/or injuries, he could end up being the difference for the team.

And, finally:

5 Predictions for the 2007 Yankees:
5. Clemens returns in June
4. Pavano remains healthy….through half the season.
3. Cano wins the batting title
2. Mientkiewizc saves the Yankees 89324 errors, and racks up 5 hits all year.
1. A-Rod has a great season, an amazing post-season, and achieves record-setting numbers, but is still booed and leaves New York as soon as physically possible.

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