They were lineups with underachieving and overrated players that were never able to duplicate the success of the Jorge Posada, Tino Martinez, Paul O'Neill, Derek Jeter, Scott Brosius, Chuck Knoblauch, and Mariano Rivera championship teams, most specifically in the postseason where their lack of fundamental skills showed most glaringly in their constant inability to advance to the World Series.
During the Yankees' first resurgence to baseball's elite, Joe Torre created a masterful platoon system made possible by egos that were in check, alternating Cecil Fielder and Tino Martinez at first, Charlie Hayes and Wade Boggs at third, and rotating his outfield between regular starters Paul O'Neill and Bernie Williams with a mix of Darryl Strawberry, Chad Curtis, Tim Raines, Ruben Sierra, and Gerald Williams — all who contributed to the success of the team in their own limited but valuable ways.
This sounds striking similar to the option of a Nick Swisher/Mark Teixeira platoon at first base, as well as the various possibilities provided by the six-man rotation of quality outfielders that the modern Yankees have at their disposal. While there will inevitably be criticisms surrounding such issues of age, health, and production (the latter most notably in Swisher's case) those same question surrounded O'Neill — who never hit .300 before joining the Yankees — and Brosius, who hit .203 for the A's the season before arriving in New York. The fundamental pieces are present in the 2009 Yankees, as they were in the 1990s, and those building blocks should translate into a consistency of success that has been notably lacking from recent Yankee incarnations.
Breaking down the 2009 Yankees outfield, the quality in their depth is apparent, if not lingering below the surface of the obvious. Starting in the left field — a position that even in the dynasty's best years was constantly in flux — the Yankees have found stability among a stable of capable players that could start regularly for most other teams in the league.
While Johnny Damon is set to be the projected starter, he is backed up by Xavier Nady on the depth chart, new acquisition Nick Swisher, and Hideki Matsui; three players capable of playing multiple positions reasonably well and producing quality offense in each case.
While Damon will turn 35 this season, his 2008 stats show little decline in his offensive abilities. Sporting a .303 batting average (the first time he hit over .300 since 2005), 17 home runs and 29 steals — along with a very good .375 OBP and 119 OPS+ — Damon is still a solid and diverse offensive force, reaching base frequently and providing speed, limited power, and solid range (aside from his weak arm) to the Yankees left field position. His time at DH this year should provide him with the rest necessary to maintain consistent numbers and health over the course of the season, much as it appeared to last year when Damon took 25 turns in the DH slot.