Thursday, May 24, 2012
2012 Yankees: Five reasons to believe
AP Photo/LM OteroTo combat all the questions about their slow start, the Yankees' mantra in the clubhouse is, "Look at the back of our baseball cards." We have -- and that is probably the best reason to believe that the Yankees have better days ahead. They have done it before.
Fear not, Yankees fans: CC Sabathia is your most important player, and he's still a stud.
So let's look at five reasons to believe in the Yankees. (Click here for five reasons to panic.)
1. The Yankees can't keep hitting this poorly. Even if you believe that Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira are regressing, they still have to have a lot of homers in their bats. Last year, Teixeira hit 39. Is he really going to have just 15 this year? A-Rod might not be a 30/100 guy anymore, but let's say he hits 24 this year. That means he is hitting about one per week or four per month. Not A-Rod in his prime, but a positive contribution. So the two big guns on the corners figure to improve.
2. CC Sabathia still looks like an ace. Although there may be legit questions about the rest of the staff, Sabathia has shown he still has it. There was a little concern about where his weight and game were going at the end of last year. Sabathia, though, looks as if he is going to have another excellent season. Wherever the Yankees end up, Sabathia will lead them. He is the most important Yankee and looks like he is on his way to a typical season for him.
3. The Yankees aren't in that big a hole. They are just 4½ games out of first. In 2007, they were 10½ games out and still won the wild card. Now there are two wild cards, so they have double the consolation prizes.
Will they win the division? I thought so before the season, and I'm not ready to abandon that prediction just yet. There are a lot of bad teams on the schedule, and the Yankees are bullies who should be able to clean up in those games. The AL East is the best division in baseball, and you could make a case for every team to win it.
4. David Robertson is coming back. The Yankees don't have Mariano Rivera, but when Robertson returns, there is a pretty good chance he will be back pitching in the eighth. Robertson and current closer Rafael Soriano are a strong back end of the bullpen. The Yankees will miss Rivera, but the bullpen still could very well be a strength.
5. Brett Gardner is also coming back. It is a bit worrisome that they have to keep pushing back Gardner's elbow rehab, but let's assume he starts to get going on Monday and is back by the end of next week or the beginning of the following week.
Gardner brings diversity and defense to the Yankees every day. The defense is really important because it makes the pitchers better. Along with Teixeira, Russell Martin and when Robinson Cano is interested, Gardner is one of the Yankees' only plus defenders. It makes a subtle difference that leads to wins.
To imagine all five of these things happening -- not to mention that ol' trade deadline in July -- and thinking the Yankees still can win 95 games is not a stretch.
What do YOU think? Tell us in the comments section.