A.L. East preview: New York Yankees


A.L. East preview: New York Yankees

By SeanMcAdam

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

Ortiz wins Hank Aaron Award as top hitter in American League


Ortiz wins Hank Aaron Award as top hitter in American League

CLEVELAND -- David Ortiz is heading into retirement with some more hardware.

The Boston Red Sox slugger captured the Hank Aaron Award on Wednesday as the top hitter in the American League this season. Budding Chicago Cubs star Kris Bryant was honored as the top hitter in the National League.

The award was presented before Game 2 of the World Series between the Cubs and Cleveland. It was determined through a combination of fan voting and a panel that includes Aaron and other Hall of Fame players.

The 40-year-old Ortiz hit .315 with 38 home runs, 127 RBIs and 48 doubles in the 20th and final season of his major league career. His 541 career home runs rank 17th all-time.

The 24-year-old Bryant hit .292 with 39 home runs and 102 RBIs while helping the Cubs cruise to the NL Central title and eventually a spot in the World Series. Shortly after being honored, Bryant singled in the first inning for his first Series hit.