A.L. East preview: New York Yankees

223043.jpg

A.L. East preview: New York Yankees

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

When the Yankees were eliminated in Game Six of the ALCS by the Texas Rangers, little did they realize that their winter of discontent was just beginning.

The Yankees built their entire offseason strategy around landing free-agent pitcher Cliff Lee, but Lee took less money to sign with Philadelphia.

That sent the Yankees scrambling, and with few alternatives on the free-agent market, they re-directed their efforts to other areas. Significant questions about their starting rotation remain.

Three things that have to go right

1) Derek Jeter must put the offseason ugliness behind him.
Jeter was furious with the way the Yankees handled his contract negotiations and said so when he agreed to his new deal. Jeter's been known to hold a grudge or two, but for the sake of the franchise -- and his own legacy -- he needs to let his play do the talking for him.

2) Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild must figure out a way to get A.J. Burnett back on track.
Burnett posted a horrendous 5.24 ERA last year. The Yanks are on the hook for this and two more seasons of his contract and have to find a way to get more -- lots more -- out of him.

3) They must find someone to take over as the full-time catcher.
Jorge Posada is slated for DH duty, meaning that either injury-prone Russell Martin or highly-regarded prospect Jesus Montero must step forward.

Three things that can't go wrong

1) The Yankees can't allow injuries to take their toll.
With as many as six everyday players over 30 -- and two over 35 -- age is, again, a concern.

2) They can't fall out contention in the early going.
The well-stocked farm system has plenty of pieces to package for a starter at the trade deadline. But first, the Yanks have to figure out a way to stay in the race for the first four months of the season.

3) Mark Teixeira can't begin the season as poorly as he traditionally has.
Until the Yankees rotation stabilizes or is upgraded with a deal, the pressure will be on the offense to produce runs early in the season. That's especially true for Teixeira.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.FollowSeanon Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Friday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: Porcello goes for win No. 23

ortiz-fenway-grass.jpg

Friday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: Porcello goes for win No. 23

The A.L. East-champion Red Sox, still fighting for playoff position, field their usual lineup as they open David Ortiz's final regular-season series tonight (7:10) against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox (92-67) are two games behind the Texas Rangers (94-65) in the race for the best record in the A.L., with the Cleveland Indians (91-67) a half-game behind Boston.

Rick Porcello (22-4, 3.11 ERA), the likely Game 1 starter in the ALDS, will try to add to his Cy Young Award resume tonight. He’ll be opposed by right-hander Marco Estrada (9-9, 3.53).

The Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles (both 87-72) are tied for the A.L. wild-card lead with the Detroit Tigers (85-73) 1 1/2 games back.

It’s the final regular season series for Oritz, with ceremonies planned to honor the retiring Red Sox DH prior to each of the final three game this weekend. 

The lineups:

RED SOX

Dustin Pedroia 2B

Brock Holt 3B

Mookie Betts RF

David Ortiz DH

Hanely Ramirez 1B

Xander Bogaerts SS

Jackie Bradley CF

Sandy Leon C

Andrew Benintendi LF

Rick Porcello P

 

BLUE JAYS

Eziquiel Carrera LF

Josh Donaldson 3B

Edwin Encarnacion DH

Jose Bautista RF

Russell Martin C

Troy Tulowitzki SS

Justin Smoak 1B

Kevin Pillar CF

Devon Travis 2B

Marco Estrada RHP