I?ll be the first to admit, as the Yankees and all their new
high-priced toys struggled through April, I chuckled. After the Red Sox
beat them for the fifth time in five games, back on May 5th, you and I
probably had the same reaction: They spent more than $400 million for
No, they spent $400 million for this: a team that arrives for a
three game set in Boston this week with a one game lead on the Red Sox
in the AL East.
According to Johnny Damon, the Yankees intend to
leave Fenway Park with at least one win in their back pockets (hey,
that?s thinking big), something they have yet to accomplish this year
aging the Red Sox.
But don?t mistake these Yankees for those Yankees. With Alex Rodriguez
healthy, the Bombers used a blistering month of May to right themselves
and come to town winners of seven of their last 10 games.
So, while the Red Sox have taken the first five games of this
season?s series, here are five reasons to feel nervous with the Yankees
breathing down the back of Boston?s neck.
1. A-Rod is Back.
Well, he?s almost back. Since returning to the Yankees lineup after hip
surgery, Alex Rodriguez has slugged 8 home runs and 23 RBIs in 29
games. But for all that power, A-Rod is still hitting a shockingly
average .248 at the plate. Dave Kingman
thinks that ?s impressive (he once led the league with 37 HR while
hitting .204!), but the Yankees have to be slightly concerned. Slightly.
2. Mark Teixeira is Worth Every Penny
There?s no denying he would?ve looked good in a Red Sox uniform.
Teixeira?s leading the American League with 18 homers and top 10 in
RBIs (51), slugging (.621) and OPS (1.011). Granted, he started slow,
but Teixeira?s numbers have jumped with A-Rod?s return.
3. So is CC Sabathia
I know the hefty lefty looked like a big bust early in the season, but
he recovered thanks to a solid month of May (2.56 ERA in six starts).
Say what you will about his waistline, or his (lack of) big game
production, but this guy can pitch at an ace level. We?ll see on
4. Johnny Damon isn?t done ? yet
The Yankees outfielder is swinging the bat like an idiot. More to the
point, with 11 bombs, 33 RBIs and a .300 average, Damon is playing like
the Johnny Damon who tore up American League pitching in 2004 with the
Red Sox. The crucial question for the Yanks: How long can he keep it up?
5. Here for the Long Haul
After struggling through the first two months of the season just to
reach the .500 mark, the Yankees appeared to have ironed out their
kinks. A-Rod can have that kind of effect; it?s no coincidence that New
York is 20-8 since his return. This is as deeply talented a team as the
Bombers have fielded in years. Don?t expect them to fade this time