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April 2, 10:00 AM ET
Chat with Wally Matthews

Wallace Matthews
  (10:00 AM)

Good morning, Yankee fans. This is my first ever live chat so I'm both excited and a little bit scared to death. But I'm on my third cup of coffee and ready to go, so let's play ball!

Jeff (NY)

Hey Wally, We all know the Yankees made a bunch of off-season moves this year, but do you think they really improved? I'm not convinced that they are better off this year than they were last year and I really think they should have kept either Matsui or Damon.

Wallace Matthews
  (10:03 AM)

Hey, Jeff. Thanks for the question. I think they;ve improved in some ways--certainly Vazquez is an improvement in the rotattion and I think they;re better defensively with Gardner in left, although I'm not at all sure he provides enough offense. I think the bench is better with Winn and Thames. I say I agree with letting Matsui go--too much money for too much risk, bad knees and all--but maybe a one-year deal for Damon would have been a good idea, although clearly, Boras didn't think so.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Will The New York Yankees win their 28th World Series Title in 2010 by looking at the team on the field?

Wallace Matthews
  (10:05 AM)

Hey, Chris. I think on paper the Yankees are clearly the best team in the division, which means they are the best team in baseball. But as we know, the games aren;t played on paper and the biggest questions, of course, revolve around the starting pitchers not named CC, and the ages of some of the key players. Anyone who doesn;t acknowledge the Yankees are at risk if losing key guys like Posada, Jeter, Mariano to injuries because of their ages simply isn't being realistic

Ernie (New York, NY)

What are the odds you actually take any questions from the 99% of Yankee fans who are justifiably (angry) that you're the guy we get as the beat reporter?

Wallace Matthews
  (10:07 AM)

Hello, Ernie. I took yours, didn't I? And there's no reason to be (angry). I'm going to tell you truth, without sugar-coating, because I believe NY baseball fans are big enough and smart enough to take it.

Larry Ackerman (New City, NY)

WallyDo you think Joba suffered an arm injury when they shut him down a few years ago. His reached 100 mph before that period, and cannot reach 95 consistently any more

Wallace Matthews
  (10:10 AM)

Hey, Larry. The Yankees insist Joba is fine physically, but offer no real explanation for the drop in velocity. I tend to believe it's more a mechanical problem than an injury. I have always thought and written that the Joba Rules were harmful, that they put doubt into the head of a guy whose main strength was that he pitched with abandon. I think their attempts to make him a starter caused Joba to alter his mental approach to pitching and possibly his mechanics as well. In any case, they seem to have screwed him up good.

Zach Lawrence (Katonah, NY)

Who do you think gets the primary set-up man role? Park, Robertson, or Chamberlain?

Wallace Matthews
  (10:13 AM)

Hey, Zach. You would think Joba was born for that job, with the intention of sliding him into the closer's role when Mo retires, but right now, Joba is among the biggest question marks on the team. Nobody is quite sure what to make of his decline or when or if he will ever return to being the pitcher he was as a rookie. Park is a good pickup but more suited to middle releif right now. The Yankees loved Robertson;s poise in the post-season. As of today, I would say the role is his to lose.

Donny (Danbury)

Wally, what area could you see becoming a concern for the Yankees in season? Obviously if Jorge goes down with an injury the answer is Jesus. But do you see any other concerns that would need to be addressed via the minors or a trade?

Wallace Matthews
  (10:17 AM)

As I wrote in today's column, I think the concerns are two-fold. First is the very real risk of injury to one or more of the key guys. The other is replacing the bats of Matsui and Damon in the lineup. I mean, if Mo goes down, who's your closer? If Jeter gets hurt, how long can you go with Pena? What if A-Rod's hip acts up again? No team in the majors has depth enough to replace guys like that. As for the other concern, it goes without saying that the Yankees need a big year out of Cano to make letting Matsui go look like the right move.

Jeff (Syracuse)

What are your thoughts on Jackson being traded to Detroit? For years the guy was touted as the best prospect in the Yankees system and then they trade him for someone they really didn't need. Was it a mistake to trade him or was he over-hyped?

Wallace Matthews
  (10:19 AM)

Hey, Jeff. I think Jackson will eventually become a very good player, but the Yankees are all about now. and I disagree that they didn;t really need Granderson, esp. since it was obvious the night they won the Series that either Matsui or Damon or both were on their way out. Plus, they needed to upgrade the outfield defense anyway. Despite his problems with lefties, Granderson provides an answer for them right now; Jackson was still a promise yet to be kept

SprungOnSports (Long Island)

The short porch in right and Javier Vazquez's propensity to give up homers doesn't seem to bode well for him this season. How well do you think he'll do in his return to New York?

Wallace Matthews
  (10:22 AM)

Hey, Sprung. The rightfield porch both giveth and taketh away. The Yankees benefited from it last year, esp. Damon and Swisher, and this year I think we'll see more pop out of Johnson because of it, so I guess it's a tradeoff the Yankees are willing to risk. As for Javy, I think he's a better and more confident pitcher now than he was in 2004. And maybe the theory that not having to carry the burden of being the No. 1 or 2 guy will prove to be right. Overall, I think he was a good pickup

Dan (Woodbridge, NJ)

Wally, How do you think Phil Hughes will do as a the 5th starter of the Yankees. Are we going to see the Hughes of old when he was in the rotation or are we going to see the Hughes that we been hearing about?

Wallace Matthews
  (10:26 AM)

Hey, Dan. I think Hughes will grow into the role because his temperment is more suited to being a starter than Joba's. More even-keeled, less fueled by emotion and all of that. Also, he has a wider repertoire and doesn;t have to rely on heat all the time. he can throw breaking pitches over the plate. The one lingering worry is his mental toughness; Dave Eiland pretty much accused him of pitchign scared after one particularly bad post-season appearance. But on the bright side, generally not much is asked or expected of the No. 5, so that may allow Hughes to develop the confidence he needs to succeed

T.R. (rockland)

is vazquezs excuse of less pressure a valid excuse or big talk... will he perform?

wallace matthews
  (10:32 AM)

That's an excellent question and one that is impossible to answer until we see him pitch here again. I think he;s a better pitcher now than he was six years ago, and hopefully that will make all the difference.

wallace matthews
  (10:33 AM)

Hey, guys, time's up for this week. We'll do it regularly throughout the season. Thanks to everyone who participated