After another spending spree, revamped Yankees hope to duplicate 2009

Brian Cashman watches batting practice at Steinbrenner Field Brian Cashman watches batting practice at Steinbrenner Field on Feb. 18, 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

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HOUSTON - Brian Cashman called it "a good spring," primarily meaning the Yankees escaped Tampa and spring training largely having avoided the sort of injuries that derailed the 2013 season before it ever began.

"Looking forward to getting the season started," Cashman said Monday before his club's workout at Minute Maid Park, where it will open the season Tuesday night against the Astros. "Feel as good as you can in terms of mission accomplished getting through spring training and seeing what you wanted to see."

CC Sabathia, who will go for the Yankees against Astros righthander Scott Feldman, will try to get the Yankees off to a good start after they missed the playoffs last season.

Cashman said Sunday in Tampa that he's tried to "purge" that 2013 season from his memory, and nothing eases the mind like money. Cashman got the go-ahead from managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner to spend plenty of it during the winter, bringing in catcher Brian McCann, outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran and Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka as big-ticket free agents.

The spending spree was similar to the one the Yankees engaged in after the 2008 season, which also ended without a playoff berth. "It has a lot of the same feel," Joe Girardi said, comparing the attitude going into 2014 to 2009. "I think there's a high expectation with the names that we've added. We've addressed a lot of situations because of all the things that we went through last year, and it's a lot of the same feelings."

The 2009 season ended with the Yankees winning their 27th World Series title. It is a long way from Opening Day until October, and the roster, as currently constituted, doesn't look championship-caliber. That's because of a slew of questions about the infield and bullpen, but, as Cashman always stresses, all fixes don't have to take place in the offseason.

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"We addressed as much as we could," he said. "Couldn't address all of it . . . Am I satisfied? No, I'm never satisfied. We have 162 games to play and we're at the very front end."

The strength of the club very well could be the rotation, a unit Sabathia said is good enough to "carry" the club.

Girardi agreed, but only to a point. The offense, with the influx of new players, can't help but be very much improved over last season's outfit.

"I think our rotation has a chance to be very good," Girardi said. "But I think we're going to score a lot of runs. I think at times, your offense has to carry your pitching and your pitching has to carry your offense. That's part of the ups and downs of being a player, but I do like our rotation a lot."

Cashman said "it feels like we have some depth," not only in the big-league rotation but in Triple-A. But just to be sure, he added Alfredo Aceves on Friday and immediately put him in the Triple-A rotation, which includes Shane Greene, Bruce Billings and Chase Whitley. Should a need for a starter arise immediately, former starters Adam Warren, David Phelps and Vidal Nuño are all in the big-league bullpen.

"We're hoping we have some depth, we're hoping we have alternatives," Cashman said, raising the specter of injuries. "We're hoping we have the protection when the storm comes because it does come; it comes for everybody. Thankfully, the storm clouds have been pushed off for a period of time, but they're coming. It's our job to be ready for it when it comes.

"I feel good about the six or seven weeks we spent down in Florida preparing. Now it's time to let these guys do what they do best, which is compete on a daily basis against the best in the world in this sport."

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