Minor Cuts Mean Little To New York Yankees Pennant Hopes

The Yankees are starting to finalize their roster right now.

The catcher spot has been the most interesting. Along with outfielder Justin Maxwell and infielder Doug Bernier, they sent Jesus Montero down to triple A and sent Austin Romine to Double A.

But the more high-profile moves: cutting Ronnie Belliard and sending former Cubs phenom Mark Prior all the way down to single A.

As far as the normal bumps and bruises caused by spring training, three players, Curtis Granderson is still sidelined by an oblique strain and there is a chance he will start out the season on the disabled list, but it don’t seem like long-term problems.

The club’s offseason moves were fodder for the press this winter, as were the non-moves (not signing Cliff Lee) and with more likely to come this summer, Mike Vaccario of the New York Post expects the Yanks to land in  the postseason.

“Even the biggest self-hating Yankees fan has to have a hard time picking a team other than the Bombers to cop the AL wild card. And that’s before they make their annual moves in July, one of which likely will bring a quality starter to The Bronx.”

I tend to agree: the Yankees lineup is probably too powerful to be shut out of the playoffs, the bullpen is improved, and even if they didn’t land Lee and Andy Petite retired, they will get quality starts from C.C. Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and maybe Freddy Garcia.

But if they think they are going to walk all over the AL East teams outside of Boston, they are in for a major shock. Baltimore and Toronto are no longer door mats and the Rays will surprise them, by pushing them  for the Wild Card into September.

For more on the MLB season, see Fantasy Baseball Rankings 2011: The Top 10 Rookies