After months of waiting, the time is here for you to get out the game day jerseys, tune into the YES Network and finally watch regular season Yankees baseball! It has been a long off-season for the Bombers as they have been dealing with injuries and trying to set their major league roster. The team is now set and ready to take the field as they open the season against the hated rivals- the Boston Red Sox.
Opening the 2013 season, these two teams will face off in a battle of two historic teams, trying to find themselves in a season full of questions and turmoil. Both the Yankees and Sox are trying to figure out what type of teams they will be, and what it will take to win games.
Whether because of injury or roster turnover, these teams have gone from high scoring offenses to teams wondering how to get runners across the plate. Regardless of this internal struggle for each team, I suspect we see this series turn into one that reminds us that these teams can still get it done.
Right off the bat, new Yankee third baseman, Kevin Youkilis will get a chance to step into this rivalry on the other side of the fence. For the better part of the last 12 years, Youk had been the catalyst for the Boston lineup. While most of us are still trying to get use to him in Pinstripes, Youkilis will be relied on heavily in the Yankees lineup while they wait to get healthy.
The Yankees lineup surrounding Youkilis is filled with questions with injuries to Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. While the core of the lineup is on the shelf, MVP candidate Robinson Cano will have to continue his hot start to the season (started in the World Baseball Classic). The speed of Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki will play a large part in how the Yankees will look to pile up runs. The additions of Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay should contribute to some power numbers along side of the consistent bat of Brandon Boesch and platoon outfielder Ben Francisco.
With the questions piling up for the offense, the pressure will be put on the shoulders of the Yankees pitchers. Led by workhorse C.C. Sabathia and Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera, the overall unit looks ready to take on the challenge. In the opening series against Boston, Sabathia will take the mound to open the season with Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte following suit. The rest of the Yankees starting staff needs to perform well for the team to succeed. With Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes and David Phelps all contributing, and battling for consistent starts, the Yankees need the staff to keep them in games.
If the starters can put up quality innings, manager Joe Girardi can turn the ball over to bullpen to close teams out. Anchored by Rivera, the Yankees can mix and match in late innings to seal the deal. Look for Joba Chamberlain to have a major impact this season as he works with David Robertson to bridge the gap from the starters to Rivera.
The plan for the Yankees to win games this season is simple. Starters need to pitch late into games, the defense needs to be on point and the line up needs to manufacture runs. We will get a chance to see that right from opening day as they look to get a good start in the AL East.
For the Red Sox, they will be sending Jon Lester, Clay Bucholtz and Ryan Dempster to the mound during the series. Boston has to answer a lot of questions all over the field- not just their line up. This is where the Yankees have an edge on their rivals. Where the answers to the Yankees questions are all clear (and sitting on the disabled list) the Red Sox are still searching for answers with all their key pieces on the table to start the season. If Boston can’t figure out their issues early, then it will be another long, hard season in Beantown.
The offense will be driven by Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz. This trio is the core of the Boston line up and if healthy could prove potent. With the up-and-coming Will Middlebrooks (the reason they were able to move Youkilis) the Boston line up could become very dangerous for opposing pitchers. The probability of us seeing this foursome in action the first week of the season is very unlikely with Ortiz recovering from an injury of his own. Without ‘Big Papi’ in the line up, the lack of power for this team is apparent- especially with the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium.
When these two teams take the field to start the season, it doesn’t matter what questions there are about who is injured, or who will be in the lineups. For the last 112 years the Yankees and Red Sox have been bitter rivals, and there is no reason to think that changes in 2013. With 2,118 games already in this heated rivalry, the next three are as important as any others played before.
So however long these three games may last, remember we’ve waited six long months to see the Yankees back on the field. Grab your game day shirt and hat, sit in your lucky chair and watch the Yanks beat the Sox in the first three games of the season to start 2013 off right.
Let me know on Twitter (@Jtmac21) what you are most looking forward to as the Yankees take the field to start the season! Let’s Go Yankees!