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The Yankees eagerly approached the 2010 campaign, their second in the new Yankee Stadium, hoping to successfully defend their world championship from one year earlier.  Having acquired a brand new centerfielder and a number four starter to go along with the team’s “Big Three” of C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettitte, the club seemed poised to mount another serious challenge for baseball supremacy. 

The Yankees addressed their two biggest needs shortly after they captured their 27th World Series title the previous year.  New York completed a three-team trade with the Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks on December 8th that netted them Detroit centerfielder Curtis Granderson, in return for top outfield prospect Austin Jackson and young pitchers Ian Kennedy and Phil Coke.  Although Granderson’s offensive numbers dropped precipitously in each of the previous two seasons, New York’s front office hoped that a change in scenery might help him return to his form of 2007, when he accomplished the rare feat of surpassing 20 home runs, 20 triples, and 20 doubles.  In his finest major league season, Granderson hit 23 home runs, accumulated a league-leading 23 triples, collected 38 doubles, batted .302, and placed among the A.L. leaders with 122 runs scored.

General manager Brian Cashman also bolstered the team’s starting rotation by making a deal with the Braves on December 22nd that sent outfielder Melky Cabrera and two minor leaguers to Atlanta for Javier Vazquez.  Although the 33-year-old right-hander failed in his first tour of duty with the club in 2004, his 15-10 record, 2.87 ERA, and 238 strikeouts in 2009 convinced Cashman to roll the dice a second time.

Cashman’s gamble proved to be an ill-advised one.  Unable to succeed in the harder-hitting American League, Vazquez finished the campaign with a record of only 10-10 and an ERA of 5.32.  A.J. Burnett also pitched poorly, compiling a record of 10-15 and an ERA of 5.26.  Fortunately for New York, young right-hander Phil Hughes stepped up, earning A.L. All-Star honors by posting a mark of 18-8.  Staff ace C.C. Sabathia also earned a spot on the All-Star Team, leading the league with a record of 21-7, and placing among the leaders with a 3.18 ERA and 238 innings pitched.  Sabathia finished third in the Cy Young voting and 13th in the MVP balloting.  Andy Pettitte joined Hughes and Sabathia on the All-Star squad, compiling an exceptional 11-2 record by the break.  However, elbow problems sidelined Pettitte for virtually the entire second half of the year, limiting him to just three more starts and a final record of 11-3. 

New York sorely missed Pettitte the remainder of the year, spending the final three months of the campaign trying to find a third effective starter.  With the enigmatic Burnett struggling terribly, and with the “Joba Rules” enforced one year earlier robbing young Joba Chamberlain of the swagger he had when he first joined the team, the Yankees never found the third starter they needed to fight off the Tampa Bay Rays for the A.L. East title.  Furthermore, with Sabathia being the only member of the starting rotation able to consistently work deep into games, New York’s bullpen failed to hold up its end.  Only Mariano Rivera pitched well in relief, compiling a 1.80 ERA and saving 33 games, en route to earning his 11th All-Star selection.  As a result, even though the Yankees spent most of the year in first place, they ended the regular season one game behind Tampa Bay, with a record of 95-67.  However, they advanced to the postseason as the junior circuit’s wild-card representative.

Forced to carry the team much of the year, New York’s offense finished first in the American League with 859 runs scored.  Derek Jeter had the worst year of his career, batting just .270, hitting only 10 homers, and driving in just 67 runs.  Yet, he still managed to score 111 runs and earn a spot on the A.L. All-Star Team.  Speedy Brett Gardner scored 97 runs and finished third in the league with 47 stolen bases.  Curtis Granderson struggled at times, batting just .247 and striking out 116 times in 528 total plate appearances.  Still, he hit 24 homers and scored 76 runs.  Nick Swisher had his finest season, hitting 29 homers, driving in 89 runs, scoring 91 others, and batting .288, en route to earning his first All-Star selection.  Although Mark Teixeria batted just .256, he knocked in 108 runs, led the team with 33 home runs and 113 runs batted in, and won a Gold Glove.  Despite playing with a sore hip much of the time, Alex Rodriguez hit 30 homers and placed among the league leaders with 125 runs batted in.  He made the All-Star Team for the 13th time in his career.  Joining A-Rod on the squad was Robinson Cano, who established himself as New York’s best player over the course of the season.  Cano hit 29 home runs, knocked in 109 runs, scored 103 others, batted .319, collected 200 hits and 41 doubles, and won a Gold Glove for his exceptional defense at second base.  Cano finished third in the A.L. MVP voting.    

The Yankees again made quick work of Minnesota in the ALDS, sweeping the Twins in three straight games.  However, they subsequently ran into a buzz saw in the Texas Rangers, who defeated them in six games in the ALCS.  Despite winning two of the contests, the Yankees found themselves outscored by the Rangers by a combined margin of 38-19 during the Series.

By Bob_Cohen
 

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Tagged:
2010 ALCS, 2010 ALDS1, A.J. Burnett, Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte, Brett Gardner, C.C. Sabathia, Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, George Steinbrenner, Hideki Matsui, Javier Vazquez, Joba Chamberlain, Joe Girardi, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Mark Teixeira, Melky Cabrera, New York Yankees, Nick Swisher, Philip Hughes, Robinson Cano

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