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Pre-Series Q&A with Yankees Blog Pinstripe Alley

One more time, for the win!  I exchanged questions with our rival playoff blogger on the SBNation network.  See my answers to their questions here.  See theirs below.

1.  Why was this Yankees team, as opposed to the 2004-2008 ones, able to break through and make it to another World Series?

The simple answer to that is 'better pitching.' None of those teams had a CC Sabathia, or even an A.J. Burnett at the front of the rotation. And this is the best bullpen the Yankees have had since the glory days when Jeff Nelson, Ramiro Mendoza and Mike Stanton set up for Mariano Rivera. The other part of that is that Alex Rodriguez is -- finally -- having the post-season we have always dreamed he would have.
2.  A.J. Burnett is something of an "x-factor" in this Series; capable of being utterly dominant, but almost as likely to melt down.  Are there any particular situations in which he struggles more than others?  Or is he just completely unpredictable?

Burnett is unpredictable -- game to game, inning to inning, hitter to hitter even. He has fabulous stuff. A mid-90s fastball, one of the best curveballs in the game, and he has no fear. Thing is, he's a thrower, not really a pitcher. And, sometimes, he just loses concentration or focus. Something gets him out of rhythm, and he struggles. 

3.  CC Sabathia appears to be on track to potentially start three games in this Series.  Do you worry about fatigue, particularly against the team that battered him so badly last postseason after one too many starts on three days rest?

Not a bit. The Yankees have not done to Sabathia what the Brewers did to him -- which was basically pitch him into the ground. On three days rest in the ALCS he went 8 innings, gave up 5 hits and one run, and was still throwing 95 mile-per-hour gas in the 8th inning. The Yanks kept his innings down a bit and never used him on three days rest during the regular year. He's ready to go, and if this series goes seven games I'll be stunned if you don't see him three times.

4.  Why is Alex Rodriguez such a beast this postseason?  Are we talking "inner-circle Hall of Famer on a normal hot streak" or is itsomething else?

I don't really know why. Is this what Kate Hudson can do to a guy? If so, I want her spending some time with the slumping Nick Swisher, too. This is Alex Rodriguez, laughed at for his post-season failings and his steroid scandal, finally showing the world what it looks like when a super star plays like a super star in the post season. It has been a lot of fun to watch.

5.  Which Phillies player scares you the most in this Series?

Well, the sight of Ryan Howard walking to the plate generally makes me want to cover my eyes. He's the hitter who scares me. I am a big Chase Utley fan, too. Love the way the guy plays.

6.  In which areas do you think the Phillies are superior to the Yankees?

Oh, that's a difficult question. I think the fact that the Phillies are the defending champs has to be an advantage. They know they have done this before, and that little extra swagger a champion has can never be overlooked. The Yankees had it back in the late '90s glory days, and that absolutely rock-solid belief they had that they were "supposed" to win every time they stepped on the field was huge.

7.  How has Joe Girardi changed the Yankees?  Has he made things better, or worse?

Girardi had a rough go in his first season. Yankee fans will never be completely happy with a manager -- they will always find things to scrutinize, criticize and second-guess. Even now the "Fire Girardi" movement has not been completely quelled. That said, Girardi has made this his team. He has been much better with players and the media than he was a year ago. His biggest flaw is that he can over-manage a game sometimes, seemingly making a whole slew of moves just because he can. But, he is a good manager.

8.  Which Yankees player needs to step up in order for the team to fly
the 27th flag?

Well, you know all about Sabathia, A-Rod, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera -- all those guys. The one big-name guy I would be concerned about is Mark Teixeira, who has hit only .205 in the post-season thus far. If he can heat up it sure would make the Yankee lineup a lot tougher. Pitching-wise, Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes have had an up-and-down post-season trying to set up for Rivera. The Yankees need them to lock things down. 

9.  Series prediction?  And Series MVP?

Well, of course I will take the Yankees. I think this is the time the Yankees finally get that 27th title that has been elusive for several seasons now. The Phillies are a terrific team, though. I will say Yankees in six. As for an MVP, I will take A-Rod. Somehow, I think it just has to work out that way if the Yankees win.