2010 is almost over. Now, it wasn't a bad baseball season for the Yankees. They won 95 games in an intense AL East battle with the Tampa Bay Rays, and then came within two games of the World Series. They had a few walk off wins, some special moments, and got their annual beating of Jonathan Papelbon early in the season. Alex Rodriguez made history with his 600th home run and continues to climb the home run list and build his legacy as one of the greatest offensive threats ever to play the game. And perhaps best of all, Robinson Cano and Phil Hughes had breakout seasons and should continue to improve as the years go on.
However, 2010 is coming to a close, and the calender is about to turn back to January. It's a day closer to baseball season for Yankees fans. As usual, people question the Yankees chances, and perhaps even more so this offseason as the Yankees lost out on Cliff Lee and did not have really any major acquisitions. But there's still a lot to look forward to going into next season. Here's the top five things I'm looking forward to with regards to the New York Yankees upcoming 2011 season.
1. Young Kids in the Starting Rotation
It may turn out that losing out on Cliff Lee may be the best thing to happen to the Yankees in a very very long time. They don't have to deal with giving 20 million a year to a pitcher who will throw out his back in 3 years, and now actually have money left over to go after a big fish later on, or as a step to lose payroll in the future. Also, no Lee means the Yankees are going to give at least one rotation spot to a young rookie from the farm system. I'm excited about this. It means a battle in spring training for at least one spot, maybe two if Andy doesn't return. We may get to see young homegrown pitchers like Ivan Nova, David Phelps, and perhaps even Andrew Brackman or one of the Killer Bs in the rotation this year. I look forward to seeing young starting pitchers grow out of the farm system and help the big league club.
2. The Emergence of Jesus Montero
Jesus Montero is one of the best prospects in the league. He's projected to have the offensive talent to be a number three hitter on a championship team, and so long as he isn't traded he's going to be the Yankees future catcher. Whether he starts the year behind the plate, gets called up during the year because Russell Martin stinks, or because Russell Martin gets hurt, we're going to see Montero next year. If he hits anywhere close to how he did in the second half of last year in AAA, he'll be up by June. I really want to see this kid hit in the majors. If he hits like he's projected, he could be the Yankees answer to Adrian Gonzalez in the future. Difference is, Montero is younger, plays a more premium position, and isn't going to cost over 20 million a year for a while.
3. Rebound Seasons
I'm sick and tired of people doubting A.J. Burnett, doubting Derek Jeter, doubting A-Rod, and any of those guys who had off seasons in 2010. I'm sure all of them are incredibly motivated to improve in 2011. Burnett is going to be working with Rothschild before spring training even starts, and I think the new pitching coach is going to be good for him. I think Jeter should revert to form, and as long as A-Rod is healthy I think one more run at the MVP isn't out of the question. Is it likely? No. Much more likely is another 30 HR and 100 RBI season. But people are even questioning if he can still do that. I'm optimistic with them as well as guys like Posada and Teixeira who also had off years, and I'm looking forward to them having a big role in next years run. Will they all rebound? Maybe, maybe not. But they all have the ability to and I look forward to them getting a new season.
4. Continued Improvement of Robinson Cano
Cano emerged as an MVP Candidate last year. He's one of the best second baseman in the league, right up there with Utley and miles ahead of Pedroia. He's entering his prime, and he's a good bet for 30 HR, 100 RBI, a .320+ BA and Gold Glove defense at second base. He's a Yankee prospect that came up through the organization, earned himself a starting role, has gone through growing pains and is becoming a star right before our eyes. I think he should hit third next year with Teixeira fifth. He's earned that. He's becoming one of my favorite players to watch and I'm excited to see him play again.
5. One Last Run for the Core Four
This is one of the biggest reasons I want Andy Pettitte back, and I really hope he returns. He never got a proper sendoff, first of all. He would be a great addition to the rotation. And most of all, I want him to make one last run with the other members of the Core Four. Mariano Rivera is probably retiring after 2012 and Posada probably after next season. Andy is definitely gone after 2011. This upcoming season (should Andy return) will be the last opportunity for the Core Four that have been together for so many years to win one last ring together. Even if Andy doesn't come back I'm still looking forward to one more for Jorge, and overall just another ring for anybody on the Yankees. Bottom line is I'm looking forward to the Yankees getting back on the field for another run at Championship #28.
Thats the top five for me. I want to ask, what is everyone else looking forward to on the Yankees next season?