I come to you today from Washington, DC, where we just completed a round of radio appearances and a bookstore event. It's always good to visit a city where they don't have a competitive team to shrug off your jaded feelings about the coming race. This is a town where the people ask, almost timidly, "Will the Nationals be, well, not good, really, but at least a little better?" And you, trying to be helpful, say, kindly, "Well, a little better."
You don't have to do that with the Yankees. If someone asks, you can unhesitatingly say, "They're gonna be good!" Exactly how good, and the reasons why, are matters of some debate. Over the course of the offseason just ended, we've talked about many of the reasons for skepticism. This time out, I'd like to highlight some of the reasons for optimism about the Yankees' season. Some of these things are based more on intuition than anything else, but that's the nature of optimism. Emily Dickinson was wrong; hope isn't just the thing with feathers, it's a lie you tell yourself. Every once in awhile, the lie will become true, just as some of these predictions will come true:
• Mark Teixera will have a more consistent season than he did in 2010, not slumping in April due to his weird post-exhibition impotency or in September due to injury.
• Robinson Cano will have a season consistent with 2010, which is plenty good enough. Nick Swisher, inconsistent but consistently good, will once again be a strong contributor, even if the details change.
• A year removed from his hip surgery, Alex Rodriguez, who had a 2010 that most players would dream about but was poor by his standards, will have one more great season.
• Playing with increasing frequency over the second half of the season, Jesus Montero will contribute 300 useful plate appearances to the offense.
• Brett Gardner will draw a few less walks but will hit for a higher batting average and win a Gold Glove.
• Curtis Granderson's rebuilt swing will carry over from fall of last year and allow him to hit with more consistency against right-handers and face left-handers with dignity. Still, Andruw Jones will prove a useful caddy against the league's tougher southpaws.
• CC Sabathia will once again shrug off the innings of previous years and serve as the team's ace.
• Phil Hughes will recover from his post-spring malaise of last year and turn in a more consistent season as he continues to grow into a strong number-two pitcher.
• A.J. Burnett will rebound, at least somewhat.
• Ivan Nova will be a serviceable league-average starting pitcher. The veteran retreads in the rotation won't last, but one or another of the unheralded kids on the farm will turn in some surprisingly effective starts.
• The bullpen will be strong; Mariano Rivera will do it one more time.
• The lamb will lie down with the lion, the Spider-Man musical will make money in spite of great expense and unfavorable reviews, and gas prices will decline throughout the summer as peace reigns in the Middle-East. And I will learn to boil water with my mind.