Dave Carroll - TSN.ca
Time to add a little more pressure to the 2009 Yankees.
Alex Rodriguez had hip surgery on Monday and will be gone for six-to-nine weeks. While it could have been much worse, the Yankees will have Cody Ransom (for now) instead of A-Rod in the lineup.
They still have weapons on offence, but Rodriguez was the scariest bat in the line-up. With him on the shelf, the opposing pitchers will have an easier time dealing with the Yankees.
While Mark Teixeira is one of the best hitters in the game, he is prone to slow starts. Johnny Damon (35), Derek Jeter (34) and Jorge Posada (37) are getting older, plus Posada has been hampered by shoulder troubles in Florida. Hideki Matsui is coming back from knee surgery. Robinson Cano is a solid talent, but had an off 2008.
While they are a decent group, none, save Teixeira, will really give pitchers sleepless nights. Injuries that keep Posada and Matsui out of the lineup, or limit them both to DH at the same time, will take a heavy toll.
The batting order will not be up to full strength until A-Rod's return, if at all, and it looks like offence will not be carrying the Yankees this season.
Enter the new look rotation. The weight of expectations for 2009 falls to the Yankees starting five of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Chien-Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte. They will have to keep the games close right out of the gate and give the A-Rod-less order chances to win close games.
The Yankees spent lots in the off-season, but with the level of competition in the American League East, nothing is for certain. A slow start could really put them in a tough spot.