Entering this year’s camp, the 2007 edition of the New York Yankees still harbors a bad taste in their collective giant mouth from the way 2006 ended.
Even Joe Torre’s impulse to move Alex Rodriguez to the eighth spot in the order couldn’t solve the malaise, as the once-promising ALDS wrapped in Detroit after New York had taken a “commanding” 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
Is falling to a Wild Card-winning Tigers unit the nadir of the Torre era, or is there further to fall for a Yankees team that shipped Randy Johnson to Arizona this offseason while bringing dynastic stalwart Andy Pettitte back?
In our estimation, last year was as bad as it will ever get for this group of veterans. In fact, the Yankees have the right mix of energetic youth and experienced moxie to make a World Series run this year — as long as they don’t run into a swarm of bugs at any point.
This is a roster built for October. Though things have felt unfairly stale since the debacle of 2004 — a near-perfect eight-season stretch will do that to you — this year’s Yankees still combine the Captain-led core of a dynasty with young stars like Robinson Cano, coming off an All-Star age-23 season, and Melky Cabrera, who just finished an auspicious debut at age 21.
Without a clear-cut top team in the American League playoff field, New York could easily stumble into the right mix of chemistry — again, presuming there isn’t a single cluster of buzzing bugs in their way at any point.
2007 Yankees have World Series mettle unless bugs eat them alive
This begs the question: has a playoff series ever been interrupted by a bug cloud? No. Then, in that case, where is this worry even coming from? It’s not a worry. It’s just a statement of fact. This team possesses a mix of veteran gumption and youthful exuberance, with five Baseball America Top 100 prospects waiting in the wings, from Phil Hughes at No. 4 to Joba Chamberlain and Dellin Betances at the back end. I believe they can tackle any challenge or natural disaster placed in their path, except for a horde of beetles or flies. That’s all we’re saying here.
What makes me so confident the Yankees could handle a monsoon, tornado, or cloud of birds? Derek Sanderson Jeter, as steady a piece of granite as any untethered team could ever hope to lean on. If it’s hailing? Jeter’s got an umbrella. If it’s oppressive heat? Jeter packs a fan and a spritz bottle in his back pocket.
Bugs? They’re nature’s poison ivy. That itch. That barely-perceptible tickling on your skin, serving as a reminder that they haven’t given up the feast. There’s nothing Jeter can do about bugs. Everything else? Should be well accounted for.
Are there any other non-bug worries for this team? Sure. Their lineup could be lacking thump without Gary Sheffield, who was dealt to Detroit this offseason. The rotation is thin and aging, and doesn’t feature a true swing-and-miss ace ahead of Chien-Ming Wang and Mike Mussina. Roger Clemens ain’t walking through that door.
Unless he is. Probably not, though.
As it stands, this is one of Torre’s most boom-or-bust rosters in recent history, but the rest of the league hasn’t exactly sprinted past the Bombers. Boston plans to start a 5-foot-3 rookie second baseman named Dustin Pedroia. Does that sound particularly fearsome? Detroit’s now taken on the Sheffield problem, and is still reeling from a World Series pockmarked with errors. Can Oakland get over their playoff fears? Will the Angels rally again behind their beloved monkey? Will 2006 AL MVP Justin Morneau repeat the feat, or hand the award over to Jeter, who really deserved it?
And, most importantly, remember: none of those teams have any bugs.
The preceding article was a piece of FanSided 15-year anniversary content, written by Captain Hindsight.