Summary of 2005:

The New York Yankees simply weren’t themselves for much of the 2005 season. The Bombers’ starting pitching proved spotty for much of the year, while their offense regularly scraped and scratched runs throughout the first half of the season. . Newly acquired starter Randy Johnson struggled to become the power pitcher the Yankees had hoped for, while the rest of the pitching staff struggled with constant injuries and poor starts. Somehow, manager Joe Torre was able to keep his team in the mix until after the All-Star break. And when the Orioles and Blue Jays began to slump in the second half of the season, the Yankees caught up.

Rookie second baseman Robinson Cano (.297 14 62) provided the Yankees with an impressive bat and consistent defense, while third baseman Alex Rodríguez (.321 48 130) put together a stellar MVP campaign hitting behind shortstop and captain Derek Jeter (.309 19 70). Outfielders Hideki Matsui (.305 23 116) and Gary Sheffield (.291 34 123) also helped anchor the Yankees’ offense, while first baseman Jason Giambi (.271 32 87 108 walks) recovered from his admission of steroid use and a terrible 2004 campaign. Giambi delivered an impressive offensive second half and forced fan favorite Tino Martinez (.241 17 49) to the bench despite Tino’s great offensive production before the break for the All-Star Game.

Closer Mariano Riveria (7-4 1.38) proved once again why he is one of the most valuable closers in baseball, appearing in 71 games and saving 43. And Randy Johnson (17-8 3.79 211K) finally settled in to provide needed rotation consistency The Yankees also got some much-needed “lightening in a bottle” from newcomers Aaron Small (10-0 3.20) and Chien-Ming Wang (8-5 4.02) while starting pitcher Mike Mussina was able to string together several quality starts in to improve his overall record to 13-8. The July addition of Shawn Chacón (7-3 2.85) acquired from the Colorado Rookies for RHP Ramón Ramírez and Eduardo Sierra also provided much-needed help to the starting rotation.

The Yanks finished their season in a classic “fight to the finish” battling rival Boston for first place and ultimately clinched the AL East division in the final weekend series against the Red Sox.

The Yankees postseason was not that exciting as they lost to the Angels in 5 games and quickly finished in the first round of the playoffs.

Moving out of season:

After a disappointing postseason, Steinbrenner and company quickly re-signed general manager Brian Cashman and began to focus on the tasks at hand. First in line was extending left fielder Hideki Matsui’s contract for another four years. The Yankees’ front office then added strength to the bullpen by signing free agents Kyle Farnsworth (1-1 2.19 16 saves) and Mike Myers (3-1 3.13) while trading for pitcher Ron Villone (5-5 4.08).

Yankee fans also received a special Christmas present on Dec. 21 when Boston free agent outfielder Johnny Damon (.316 10 75) agreed to terms as the Yankees’ new center fielder. Free agents Octavio Dotel and Miguel Cairo were also signed, while fan favorite Bernie Williams (.249 12 64) has agreed to return, for at least one more season, as the team’s designated hitter.

2006 analysis:

The Yankees addressed some key bullpen concerns with the additions of Farnsworth and Myers, who will join Tanyon Sturtze (5-3 4.73), Aaron Small and Chien-Ming Wang as a bridge to Riveria. Dotel is coming off surgery, but his save numbers (36 in 2004) have the Yankees hoping he’ll pay off a shot. Damon finally gives the Yankees the leadoff hit they’ve been missing in recent seasons and will solve the defensive woes that eventually forced center fielder Bernie Williams to bench before the All-Star break.

If both are healthy, Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina should have an easier first half than last season, but the Yankees’ fourth and fifth starters may need help, so expect Jaret Wright and Carl Pavano to get some competition. It will be interesting to see how Joe Torre integrates Chacon, Wang and Small into the mix.

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