Every baseball preview is legally obliged to look at the New York Yankees. And with good reason right now. After many years of discontent (no World Series wins from 2001 through 2008, and arguably the choke of the century in losing a 3-0 lead to the Boston Red Sox in the 2004 American League championship series), order was restored when the team claimed its 27th World Series in November. But it may be tough to repeat the feat this season. New acquisitions Curtis Granderson, Javy Vazquez and Nick Johnson will help the Yankees, but the team will miss Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, who have set off for Detroit and Los Angeles, respectively. And if you really want to play the pessimism card, you could claim that the Yanks' top three starters (CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and A.J. Burnett) aren't as impressive as their rivals from Beantown (Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and John Lackey). Throw into the mix a slightly wanting bullpen (Mariano Rivera aside), and it's not inconceivable that the Yankees could miss out on the playoffs. But don't bet the house on that just yet.
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