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Building a championship roster: 2009 Yankees

Every Friday we will be taking a look back at the construction of past New York Yankees World Series rosters. With 27 World Series championships, the Yankees have built teams through the draft, free agency, and trades. As the Yankees look to capture No. 28, we can see how this roster stacks up to the previous champions.

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We will be starting with the most recent championship squad, the 2009 New York Yankees. 2009 saw the Yankees looking to rebound from missing the playoffs in Joe Girardi’s first season leading the team. The offseason saw the departure of Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, and Mike Mussina, while Alex Rodriguez missed the beginning of the season due to a hip injury.


The Yankees were once again be led by Jorge Posada behind the plate. Despite turning 39 during the season, Posada had one of his better offensive seasons, hitting .285 with 22 home runs, including the first home run in the new stadium. Posada initially joined the Yankees through the way of the draft in the 24th round of the 1990 MLB Draft.

He once again was joined by the strong-armed Jose Molina. While Molina was never a threat with the bat, his defense and ability to call games helped to make him a fan favorite. Molina joined the Yankees by way of the Los Angeles Angels during 2007 for minor league pitcher Jeff Kennard. In 2009 he frequently served as the personal catcher for new pitcher A.J. Burnett.

Youngster, Francisco Cervelli also joined the big league club and played his way to the backup position late in the season. The emergence of Cervelli made Molina expendable in the offseason.

First Base

One of the big free-agent signings for the Yankees was first baseman, Mark Teixeira. Teixeira started his career with the Rangers before stops with the Braves and Angels. Teixeira joined the Yankees on an 8-year deal worth $180 million. He played in 156 games while hitting 39 home runs to complement a .292 average leading to a second-place finish in the American League MVP voting.

Second Base

In 2009, Robinson Cano played in 161 games while holding down second base for the Yankees. Originally, signed as an international free agent in 2001, Cano was in his fifth season as a starter in New York. Cano finished the year with a .320 average and established himself as a premier second baseman in Major League Baseball.

Third Base

As mentioned above, the Yankees started the season without their starting third baseman, Rodriguez, due to offseason hip surgery. As a result, the Yankees used the combination of Cody Ransom and Ramiro Pena to help manage the load. A-Rod returned from injury to play in 124 games while hitting 30 home runs with 100 RBI. Ransom struggled in limited playing time leading to the Yankees acquiring Eric Hinske for the postseason stretch.

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2009 was something of a breakthrough for A-Rod. Rodriguez joined the Yankees for the 2004 season in a trade with the Texas Rangers and signed an extension to stay with the Yankees before the 2008 season. While A-Rod added two MVP awards with the Yankees, he seemed to shy away during the postseason. Furthermore, A-Rod found himself entangled in steroid controversies and finally admitted to using banned substances during the 2009 offseason. Perhaps it was that monkey off his back that helped him come up huge in October.


2009 marked the final World Series championship for longtime captain Derek Jeter. Despite being 35, he was still a key component of the Yankees lineup and hit .334 on the season. Jeter originally joined the Yankees in the first round of the 1992 draft and his leadership was a key part in bringing the Yankees their first World Series title since 2000.

The Outfield

The Yankees started the season with the vision of Johnny Damon playing left, Melky Cabrera in center, and Xavier Nady in right. Damon, the pesky former Red Sox star, joined the Yankees for the 2006 season on a four-year deal worth $52 million. Damon hit .282 in his final season in pinstripes. Meanwhile, the Yankees turned to the 24-year-old Cabrera to man center field. Cabrera signed in 2001 as a 17-year-old and established himself along with Cano as one of the more promising young players in the organization. Finally, the Yankees had acquired Nady from the Pirates during the 2008 season.

Disaster struck for the Yankees early when Nady went down with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery after only seven games. The Yankees turned to the newly acquired Nick Swisher to man right field. The Yankees had originally viewed Swisher as a role player capable of backing up the corner outfield spots and first base when they traded with the White Sox. Swisher would be a breath of fresh air for the Yankees and his passion quickly made him a favorite amongst his teammates and fans alike.

Finally, the 25-year-old Brett Gardner served as a valuable utility outfielder, replacing Damon late in games for defense or extra speed.

Designated Hitter

The Yankees transitioned longtime outfielder Hideki Matsui into a more permanent DH. Matsui joined the Yankees in 2003 after playing the early portion of his career in his native Japan. His booming home runs and Godzilla nickname made him a fan favorite and in his last year in the Bronx, Matsui hit 28 home runs and eventually take home the World Series MVP award.

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Starting Pitchers

2009 saw the Yankees with four pitchers starting more than 30 games. The staff was led by new additions CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. Sabathia spent the back half of 2008 leading the Brewers to the playoffs after a terrific run in Cleveland. His efforts led to a then-MLB record contract for a pitcher at 7 years, $161 million. In his first year in pinstripes, Sabathia went 19-8 with a 3.37 ERA and 197 strikeouts. Sabathia was the workhorse the Yankees needed and threw over 230 innings to lead the Yankees. Meanwhile, Burnett joined the Yankees on a 5 year, $82.5 million pack after starting with the Marlins and Blue Jays. Burnett went 13-9 with a 4.04 ERA and 193 strikeouts.

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Joining the two newcomers were long-time pitcher Andy Pettitte and the young flamethrower, Joba Chamberlain. Pettitte, who was drafted in the 22nd round of the 1990 draft by the Yankees, pitched to a 4.16 ERA. Meanwhile, he was joined by Chamberlain who was a first-round pick in 2006. Chamberlain finished the season with a rough 4.75 ERA and saw his stock with the Yankees plummet. At one point, Chamberlain was seen as the next great Yankees ace but never returned to his early dominant form.

The Bullpen

The Yankees were once again led by Mariano Rivera who finished the season with 44 saves. Since joining the Yankees as an international free agent in 1990, Rivera became the most dominant closer in baseball history. He was joined by former first-round pick Phil Hughes, lefty Phil Coke, Brian Bruney, and David Robertson. Of the group, Robertson established himself as a critical piece down the stretch earning the nickname Houdini for his ability to escape difficult situations.

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2009 saw the Yankees led by the core-four while adding key offseason additions in Sabathia, Burnett, Swisher, and Teixeira. The Yankees returned to the playoffs and defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in six games to win their most recent World Series Championship