2. Who will be the fifth starter?
Joba Chamberlain may be heading into camp believing that the spot is his to win, but there should be plenty of competition as the weeks of Spring Training go by. Although Chamberlain could be considered an early favorite because his innings restrictions have finally been lifted, the Yankees are also pledging to consider a cast of candidates that includes Phil Hughes, Alfredo Aceves, Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre.
3. Will the lineup produce enough?
This has been a topic of much hand-wringing among fans lamenting the departures of Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, key cogs in a lineup that produced a Major League-leading 5.65 runs per game in 2009. Damon's outfield spot will be assumed by Gardner or Winn, while Matsui's DH role is being handed to Nick Johnson, who ranked third in the big leagues in on-base percentage last year but has dealt with a variety of injuries over his career.
103-59, first place in the American League East, World Series champions
Projected batting order
1. SS Derek Jeter
.334 BA, .406 OBP, .465 SLG, 18 HR, 66 RBI in 2009
2. DH Nick Johnson
.291 BA, .426 OBP, .405 SLG, 8 HR, 62 RBI in 2009
3. 1B Mark Teixeira
.292 BA, .383 OBP, .565 SLG, 39 HR, 122 RBI in 2009
4. 3B Alex Rodriguez
.286 BA, .402 OBP, .532 SLG, 30 HR, 100 RBI in 2009
5. C Jorge Posada
.285 BA, .363 OBP, .522 SLG, 22 HR, 81 RBI in 2009
6. 2B Robinson Cano
.320 BA, .352 OBP, .520 SLG, 25 HR, 85 RBI in 2009
7. CF Curtis Granderson
.249 BA, .327 OBP, .453 SLG, 30 HR, 71 RBI in 2009
8. RF Nick Swisher
.249 BA, .371 OBP, .498 SLG, 29 HR, 82 RBI in 2009
9. LF Brett Gardner
.270 BA, .345 OBP, .379 SLG, 3 HR, 23 RBI in 2009
1. CC Sabathia
, 19-8, 3.37 ERA in 2009
2. A.J. Burnett
, 13-9, 4.04 ERA in 2009
3. Andy Pettitte
, 14-8, 4.16 ERA in 2009
4. Javier Vazquez
, 15-10, 2.87 ERA in 2009
5. Joba Chamberlain
, 9-6, 4.75 ERA in 2009
5a. Phil Hughes
, 8-3, 3.03 ERA in 2009
Closer: Mariano Rivera
, 44/46 saves, 1.76 ERA in 2009
RH setup man: David Robertson
, 3.30 ERA in 2009
LH setup man: Damaso Marte
, 9.45 ERA in 2009
The new guys
CF Curtis Granderson:
Granderson comes to New York after spending the first six years of his career with the Tigers, including representing the AL in 2009 as an All-Star. The lefty's smooth stroke should play nicely at Yankee Stadium, though the Yankees will work this spring on correcting his issues with facing left-handed pitching.
DH Nick Johnson:
It's back to where it all started for Johnson, one of the game's best on-base performers and the Yankees' likely No. 2 hitter. Johnson split last season with the Nationals and Marlins and will be asked to fill mostly designated-hitter responsibilities, with Mark Teixeira more than capable of handling first base.
LHP Boone Logan: Obtained from the Braves in December, Logan joins his third team in the last three seasons, looking to slot into the role filled for the World Series champions by Phil Coke. Logan, 25, was 1-1 with a 5.19 ERA in 20 relief appearances for Atlanta in 2009.
RHP Javier Vazquez: The Yankees needed another starter, a fact reinforced when they leaned on a three-man staff for all of the postseason. Their search led them back to Vazquez, who was acquired from the Braves for what will be his second tour in New York after spending 2004 in pinstripes. That season was a forgettable one, but he is looking forward to a fresh start as the fourth starter.
OF Randy Winn: The 35-year-old veteran switch-hitter will head into the spring looking at a possible reserve role with the Yankees, and could potentially grab more playing time with a good showing. A .286 lifetime hitter, Winn is looking to show that his anemic .158 average last season against left-handed pitching was a fluke.
Prospects to watch
OF Slade Heathcott:
LHP Manny Banuelos: The Yankees are very high on Banuelos, who will be just 19 on Opening Day. Signed from Mexico along with Alfredo Aceves, Banuelos was 9-5 with a 2.67 ERA in 25 games (19 starts) at Class A Charleston in 2009 and has shown signs of improving the command of his fastball and curveball. He pitched one inning at Class A Tampa last year and could open the year there.
The Yankees' first-round selection in last year's First-Year Player Draft, Heathcott is looking to make an impact in his first full season as a member of the system, possibly opening in the Gulf Coast League. The toolsy outfielder spent two weeks in the Dominican Republic this fall and impressed with one of the better arms there, as well as power and speed.
RHP Zach McAllister:
After leading the Eastern League with a 2.23 ERA, McAllister has put himself on the map with his terrific location, spotting a sinking fastball to both sides of the plate. His stuff might not be the most outstanding in the system, but his strike-throwing ability should help him progress to the next levels.
C Jesus Montero:
Signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Yankees out of Venezuela in October 2006, Montero has moved quickly through the system. He hit .356 with eight home runs and 37 RBIs in 48 games at Class A Tampa, and batted .317 with nine home runs and 33 RBIs at Double-A Trenton before suffering a season-ending injury. His performance was enough to suggest that Montero should be ready to try his big bat at Triple-A to open 2010.
C Austin Romine:
The son of former big leaguer Kevin Romine has earned rave reviews from pitchers and coaches in the system for serving as a threat on both sides of the ball. The Florida State League Hitter of the Year, Romine has shown a knack for the subtleties of the game. He hit .276 with 13 homers and 72 RBIs in 118 games for Class A Tampa in '09.
On the rebound
RHP Sergio Mitre:
A lot of Mitre's work in 12 appearances (nine games) wasn't pretty, but it was easy to forget that he was coming back quicker than many from Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery. After running out of gas late in the year, Mitre is back to try to make the team as a fifth starter or long-relief option. If he doesn't, he could make an attractive trade chip for a National League team seeking starting pitching.
RF Nick Swisher: Perhaps the most fun-loving of the Yankees also endured one of the more frustrating postseasons, as his streaky bat went ice cold for most of the run. An inability to adjust to offspeed pitching has been identified as the culprit, and he started working with hitting coach Kevin Long in December to get a head start on 2010.
OF Randy Winn:
How rough was Winn's 2009 season against left-handed pitching with the Giants? According to Baseball Prospectus, his .158 batting average, .184 on-base percentage and .200 slugging percentage were the worst numbers compiled by a right-handed hitter against left-handed pitching since 1954.
RHP Brian Bruney:
Traded to the Nationals for Rule 5 Draft selection Jamie Hoffmann, the hard-throwing Bruney had his season twice interrupted by the same injury and was left off the playoff roster for the first two rounds. He was 5-0 with a 3.92 ERA in 44 appearances and will compete for Washington's closer role.
OF Melky Cabrera:
The Melk-man will make his deliveries in Atlanta this year, dealt to the Braves in the Vazquez swap. A product of New York's farm system, Cabrera hit .274 with 13 homers and 68 RBIs in 154 games for the Yankees in 2009. He was a fan favorite in the Bronx, credited with three walk-off RBIs during the championship season and improving the Yankees' outfield with a strong throwing arm.
LHP Phil Coke:
After making 72 appearances for New York, the rookie southpaw was traded to the Tigers in the Granderson deal, and will be considered for a spot in Detroit's starting rotation. Coke was 4-3 with a 4.50 ERA for the Yankees, finishing 13 games and saving two.
LF Johnny Damon:
At one point, the Yankees offered Damon a two-year, $14 million deal, and it's probably going to the best proposal he'll see all winter. Instead, the door is closed on Damon's return, even though he was interested in coming back and the Yankees would have liked him -- though not at all costs. Damon was seeking a two-year, $22 million deal and may have to settle for far less after misjudging the marketplace.
UT Jerry Hairston Jr.:
A July 31 acquisition from the Reds, Hairston hit .237 with two homers and 12 RBIs in 45 games for the Yankees, but he'll be best remembered for scoring the winning run in Game 2 of the AL Championship Series against the Angels. Hairston signed a $2.1 million deal with the Padres, where he'll play along with his brother Scott.
OF Eric Hinske: Belting seven homers in 84 at-bats, Hinske was a nice power threat from the Yankees' bench in 2009 after coming over from Pittsburgh. The veteran, now with the Braves, made it into only 39 games and never really found a niche with New York, though he did keep his streak of appearing in three consecutive World Series ('07 Red Sox and '08 Rays) alive.
RHP Ian Kennedy:
A first-round pick in 2006, Kennedy missed most of the '09 season with an aneurysm near his pitching shoulder and made it into one game for the Yankees, pitching a scoreless inning on Sept. 23 against the Angels. He was traded in the December three-way trade for Granderson and will compete for a spot in the D-backs' rotation this spring.
DH Hideki Matsui:
The Yankees will miss their steady, gentlemanly designated hitter, as Godzilla moves on to Angel Stadium after seven seasons with New York. The World Series MVP went out on top with six RBIs in the clinching game. He'll prove to be Brian Cashman's best signing from Japan to date, hitting .292 with 140 homers and 597 RBIs in 916 games with the Yankees.
C Jose Molina: The Yankees will continue without Molina, who served capably as an understudy to Posada after being acquired from the Angels in 2007. Molina clicked with a lot of the staff, using his defense as a strength, but the Yankees were impressed by rookie Francisco Cervelli and will hand him the apprentice job in '10.
OF Xavier Nady:
After missing most of the year due to injury, the Yankees permitted Nady to sign with the Cubs, citing that his demands did not fit into their financial capability. Nady played just seven games with the 2009 Yankees but was a nice second-half performer in '08 after coming over from the Pirates.
RHP Chien-Ming Wang:
The Yankees cut ties with Wang by non-tendering the right-hander, making him a free agent. Wang expects to be on a big league mound by May, and the Yankees haven't ruled out re-signing him, though they need to ensure that he'll be more like the 19-game winner they knew and loved, and less like the guy who served up a 9.64 ERA in 12 games.