Yankees need to revisit their 2009 title-winning roster

The 2009 Yankees team after winning the 27th World Series title.

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With spring training about to start in less than four weeks, fans are anxious to see how the Yankees roster is shaping up. This winter was particularly good for them. They retained Aaron Judge, re-signed Anthony Rozzo, and get starter Carlos Rodon, who has a winning mindset. However, they have a lot to learn from their 2009 roster building to make them worthy of another World Series title.

The Yankees have built their teams through the draft, free agency, and trades. They have won 27 World Series. As they try to win their 28th title, let’s see where they are compared to their 2009 actions in team building.

In 2009, the Yankees tried to get back on track after missing the playoffs in Joe Girardi’s first year as manager. Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, and Mike Mussina all left the team in the offseason, and Alex Rodriguez missed the start of the season because he hurt his hip. They were in despair but soon got into the act.

Posada cemented his position as Yankees catcher

Jorge Posada was again in charge of the Yankees from behind the plate. Posada had one of his best offensive seasons, even though he turned 39 during the season. He hit .285 and hit 22 home runs, including the first home run in the new Yankee Stadium.

The strong-armed Jose Molina, who the Yankees got in 2007, stood with him again. Though he was never a threat with the bat, he was a fan favorite because of his defense and his ability to call games. In 2009, he was the pitcher A.J. Burnett’s personal catcher a lot of the time.

Francisco Cervelli, a young player, also joined a big league team and worked his way up to the backup spot by the end of the season. As Cervelli got better, the Yankees didn’t need Molina in the offseason.

Can Trevino follow the footsteps of Posada?

Fast forward to 2023, Jose Trevino has emerged a big asset for the Yankees. The team never expected him to play a big part in their plans for 2022 and stay as the second fiddle to Ben Rortvedt. But the 30-year-old jumped at the chance to take over as the starting catcher and was chosen as an All-Star. He won a Gold Glove for his performance in the 2022 season. This followed his first Fielding Bible Award in the offseason. Jose Trevino was chosen for the Platinum Glove Award too. At bat, he scored 11 home runs, 130 total bases, and 43 runs at .248.

Yankees bases remained well guarded

Mark Teixeira, a first baseman, was a big deal for the Yankees when they signed him as a free agent. Teixeira’s career began with the Rangers. After that, he played for the Braves and the Angels. Teixeira signed an 8-year contract with New York worth $180 million. He played in 156 games and hit 39 home runs. His average was .292, which helped him finish second in the voting for the American League MVP.

Robinson Cano was the second baseman for the Yankees in 161 games in 2009. Cano came to New York in 2001 as an international free agent. He was in his fifth season as a starter. Cano’s batting average for the year was .320, and he proved himself to be one of the best second basemen in Major League Baseball.

A-Rod was the Yankees’ starting third baseman. But he had hip surgery during the offseason and missed the start of the season. Cody Ransom and Ramiro Pena were tasked to help carry the responsibility. When A-Rod came back from being hurt, he played in 124 games, hit 30 home runs, and drove in 100 runs. Ransom had trouble when he played, so the Yankees traded for Eric Hinske for the rest of the season.

In 2023, Rizzo looks set for the first base. He hit 32 homers, 75 RBIs, and .224 batting. It was his fourth season with 30+ home runs. Gleyber Torres took over the second base in 2022. Though he contributed to some major wins, Torres ended up with 24 home runs, 76 RBIs, and .257 average. Unless the Yankees trade him, he is going to man the second base.

For the third base, Brian Cashman has confirmed the choice of Josh Donaldson. But his on-base percentage, wRC+, and walk rate were all at their lowest levels since 2012 when he played 75 games as a rookie. Both Toress and Donaldson are subject to trade rumors. In such an eventuality, the Yankees have to fall back on DJ LeMahieu and Oswaldo Cabrera. While LeMahieu looks ready to play after a year of nagging injury, Cabrera has proved his mettle as a perfect utility player.

Shortstop: Will the Yankees have another Jeter?

Longtime captain Derek Jeter won his last World Series title in 2009. Even though he was 35, he was an important part of the Yankees lineup and hit .334 for the season. Jeter was drafted in the first round in 1992. His leadership was a big reason why they won the World Series for the first time since 2000.

But in 2023, the shortstop position is hanging in balance. The position has been held by DJ LeMahieu before he was out on the injured list. Gleyber Torres too had a chance. The Yankees dropped Isiah Kiner-Falefa after his erratic defense and gave chance to Oswaldo Cabrera.

Anthony Volpe, on the other hand, seems to be the person the fans want for the job. Even though he is still young, his growth and development have been better than expected. Fans will be excited by what Brian Cashman says, and Volpe is likely to work harder this offseason because of it. Oswald Peraza, a prospect from Venezuela, is also likely to get a chance in 2023.

At the moment, Anthony Volpe is only 21 years old. Some people might think that’s young, but Derek Jeter, another New York Yankees shortstop, made his debut at the same age. It went pretty well in the end. In a July interview, Cashman said that the team would keep an eye on Anthony Volpe as a prospect.

The Yankees outfield

In 2009, the Yankees planned for Johnny Damon to play left field, Melky Cabrera to play center, and Xavier Nady to play right field. Damon, a troublemaker who used to play for the Red Sox, signed a $52 million deal to play for New York in 2006. The deal was for four years. In his last year with the Yankees, Damon hit .282 with the bat. The team, on the other hand, put Cabrera, who was 24 at the time, in center field. Cabrera signed with the team in 2001 when he was 17 years old. He and Cano quickly became two of the most promising young players in the organization. During the 2008 season, the Yankees finally got Nady from the Pirates.

The Yankees had trouble right away when Nady hurt his elbow and had to have Tommy John surgery after only seven games. Nick Swisher, who had just joined the team, was put in right field. When the Yankees made the trade with the White Sox, Swisher was seen as a role player who could help out in the corners of the outfield and at first base. Swisher would be a breath of fresh air for the team, and his drive quickly made him a favorite among his teammates and fans. Brett Gardner, who was 25 years old, was a valuable utility outfielder. He replaced Damon late in games when defense or speed were needed.

In 2023, the Yankees have also a left-field problem. After Andrew Benintendi moved to Chicago, the team tries to decide whether to trade for a new player or sign a free agent or stick with the players they already have. Bryan Reynolds is the biggest name that the team has been linked to. He wanted to move out of Pittsburgh, but it looks like the Pirates are asking too much to part away with the outfielder. However, they can fall back on their internal options, which also include Aaron Hicks and IKF. The Yankees recently signed Willie Calhoun for spring training and Rafael Ortega as an extra player

Last year, Cabrera was great in the field. In 278 2/3 outfield innings, he saved 9 runs with his defense, and he had a 111 wRC+ at the plate. He might be more useful to the Yankees as a player who can play anywhere on the field rather than in a specific spot. This would let New York switch out some of their veterans more often. Estevan Florial is the other internal option that the Yankees will have to decide on. The toolsy Florial used to be a top-100 prospect, but he hasn’t played much in the last three years

The designated hitter

Hideki Matsui acted as the Yankees’ DH in 2009. His loud home runs and Godzilla nickname made him a fan favorite. Matsui hit 28 home runs and won the World Series MVP award in 2009.

In 2023, the position goes to belongs to Giancarlo Stanton, who hit the hardest ball in baseball every single season for a long time. He can hit balls faster than 120 mph and the Yankees’ exit velocity king. Even though Stanton only played 110 games and hit .211 last season, he still hit 31 home runs. If he plays enough games for the Yankees, he will easily reach that number again.

The rotation of the Yankees

Four Yankees pitchers started more than 30 games in 2009. CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, who had just joined the team, were in charge. After a great run with Cleveland, Sabathia helped lead the Brewers to the playoffs in the second half of 2008. His efforts led to a 7-year, $161 million contract, which was a record at the time for a pitcher in MLB. Sabathia went 19-8 in his first year with the Yankees and had a 3.37 ERA and 197 strikeouts. Sabathia was the workhorse the Yankees needed, and he led the team by throwing more than 230 innings. While that was going on, Burnett signed a 5-year, $82.5 million deal with the Yankees. He had previously played for the Marlins and the Blue Jays. Burnett had a record of 13–9, an ERA of 4.04, and 193 strikeouts.

Andy Pettitte, who had been a pitcher for a long time, and Joba Chamberlain, who was just starting out, joined the two new players. The Yankees picked Pettitte in the 22nd round of the 1990 draft. He had an ERA of 4.16. Chamberlain, who was taken in the first round of the 2006 draft, joined him. Chamberlain had a 4.75 ERA at the end of the season, which hurt him with the Yankees. Chamberlain was once thought to be the next great Yankees star, but he never got back to how good he was when he first joined the team.

In 2023, the Yankees have a chance to match their 2009 roster.

After getting left-handed pitcher Carlos Rodon, the Yankees will have what is likely to be the best starting rotation in all of Major League Baseball for the 2023 season. Even the latest ZiPS projections released by Fangraphs hail the Yankees rotation as “downright terrifying.” Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes are already leading the rotation for the Yankees while Luis Severino is there to complement with able support. The Yankees are yet to decide on the fourth starter after Frankie Montas’ injury resurfaced.

The Yankees bullpen: Their Achilles heel

Mariano Rivera again the Yankees in 2019, and he saved 44 games by the end of the season. Rivera has become the best closer in baseball history. Phil Hughes, a former first-round pick, Phil Coke, Brian Bruney, and David Robertson also played with him. Down the stretch, Robertson became a key member of the group and earned the nickname “Houdini” for his ability to get out of tough situations.

But in 2023, the Yankees bullpen is in shambles. Depleted by injury, they surrendered to the opponents on several occasions. With  Aroldis ChapmanZack Britton, and Chad Green, the big three in the Yankees bullpen, are no more, the bullpen will definitely look different. Scott Effross is also out. But following the return of reliever Tommy Kahnle to the Bronx, the Yankees bullpen is set to turn louder next season.

Now the Yankees bullpen has Kahnle, Michael King, Clay HolmesJonathan Loaisiga, Ron Marinaccio, Lou TrivinoDomingo GermanClarke Schmidt, and left-handed Wandy Peralta.

In 2009, the Yankees were led by the “core four,” and during the offseason, they added Sabathia, Burnett, Swisher, and Teixeira, who were all very important. The last time the Yankees won the World Series, they went back to the playoffs and beat the Philadelphia Phillies in six games. Can Aaron Judge, Anthony Rizzo, Carlos Rodon, and Gerrit Cole be the core four in 2023?

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