Kevin Long: "We have seven guys who can do better'' in 2011

Had a phone conversation with Yankee hitting coach Kevin Long this afternoon. Most of the things we discussed will be included in my Alex Rodriguez piece later this week. One thing that stood out, however, is that despite the Yankees scoring an MLB-leading 859 runs (the Boston Red Sox, with 818, were a distant second) and 201 HRs, third-highest in the league, KLong believes seven of the nine regulars in the Yankee lineup can have better seasons in 2011.

The only two players he excepted from the assessment were Robinson Cano, who had a breakout season batting .319 with 29 HRs and 109 RBI, and Nick Swisher (.288-29-89). "It would be hard for Cano and Swisher to duplicate what they did last year,'' Long said. "If they stay even close to that, great. But I expect the rest of them to do better.''

Long has already worked with A-Rod, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada this off-season. And although he hasn't had a session with Jesus Montero yet, Long believes Yankee fans will be impressed by the 21-year-old rookie catcher. "I can;t give you an honest assessment of him defensively because I haven't seen him,'' Long said. "But he's got a huge upside swinging the bat. Offensively, I think he can help us right now. The guy's got a real good feel for hitting.''