The Yankees seem to be breaking down by the day.
Instead of re-loading with the top free agents, the younger Steinbrenner regime is going with the conservative approach.
Derek Jeter didn’t participate in a Yankees playoff series for the first time in his career, A-Rod was found on another PED list, and Mariano Rivera is trying to end his stellar career on a high note after being out all of 2012.
The new era of Yankee baseball is quite foreign to their fans and baseball fans in general.
While we expect them to be a dominate force on an annual basis, the last two seasons have proven to be anything but.
The two biggest moves in that span were the acquisitions of SP Michael Pineda and OF Ichiro Suzuki.
Pineda was one of the most sought-after pitchers, after his stellar rookie season, but has yet to pan out since being traded for former Yankees catcher Jesus Montero.
New York traded for Ichiro in hopes of adding some speed to their offense towards the middle of last season.
The move didn’t exactly reinvigorate his season, but he became more of a fantasy asset with the Yankees.
The Bronx Bombers made some personnel changes this offseason by allowing some key players to walk.
Nick Swisher and Russell Martin departed for bigger paydays.
Ironic since we are talking about the Yankees.
Swisher signed a major deal to join the Tribe, while Martin surprised many by signing with the Pirates.
In the wake of A-Rod being the subject of another PED listing, the Yanks went out and brought in another former Red Sox player.
Kevin Youkilis was brought in for insurance, depending on what happens with Rodriguez, after splitting the 2012 between the Red and White Sox.
The major position of concern will certainly be at catcher.
New York has sports a revolving door of players at the position since before the retirement of Jorge Posada, but they always seem to have a worthy prospect waiting in the wing.
The early battle will be between veterans Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart, but Austin Romine will be the long-term option once he is promoted from Triple A.
Joe Girardi has already stated that Romine will start the season in the minors, but how long he stays down there depends on how much Stewart and Cervelli struggle.
In the end, the Yankees need Jeter and Rivera to stay healthy, they need to make a decision on retaining A-Rod, and figure out who their new catcher will be.
Let’s take a look a just how competitive the Bronx Bombers will be in the AL East race this season…
YANKEES PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Ichiro Suzuki RF Has been in a drop-off since 2008, but can still be a productive 4th OF option. He won’t hit you double digit home runs, but he has the ability to get 30+ stolen bases, 70 runs, and 50+ rbi’s. Late round filler.
2. Derek Jeter SS Claims that he’s going to be ready for Opening Day, but not a ton of confidence in that predicition. Had a great 2012 season, hitting .316 and breaking records, but he’s not your top SS choice anymore.
3. Robinson Cano 2B He’s the best player on this team, he’s the best 2nd Baseman in the league, and he’s one of the best players in the league, period. Could be valued as high as a top 5 fantasy pick, depending on your strategy.
4. Mark Teixeira 1B If you can put up with his droughts, he pays off big when he’s on. Not one of the first 1B options that you think of anymore, but he’s a mid-tier option that’ll hit you a lot of homers.
5. Curtis Granderson CF He’s one of the best players to own in fantasy, has exploded since joining the Yanks, his average took a hit, but he hit 40+ home runs in back-to-back seasons. He’s a top 10 OF to draft.
6. Kevin Youkilis 3B He’s not the big name option that you look for on draft day, but he can be a decent option to fill your 3B spot late in your draft. Expect 70 runs, 16+ home runs, and 50+ rbi’s.
7. Travis Hafner DH He’s not a big name DH that you want to waste a Utility spot on, look elsewhere.
8. Francisco Cervelli C He won’t be the starting catcher very long. Austin Romine will take over as soon as he struggles in the first month.
9. Brett Gardner LF He brings no power to the table, but can steal you 40+ bases, score 90 runs, and bring in 60+ rbi’s. He’s a fourth OF option on draft day.
1. CC Sabathia He’s a top 10 pitcher, can go deep enough into games to have the offense bail him out of any trouble, and can rack up a ton of strikeouts, 15+ wins, and an ERA around 3+.
2. Hiroki Kuroda Had to be convinced not to retire, won more than 13 games for the first time in his career, questionable durability, second tier draft day option in the later rounds.
3. Andy Pettitte Had an effective season in 2012, despite coming out of retirement towards the middle of the season, was one of the more productive arms of this staff down the stretch, interesting pick late in drafts.
4. Phil Hughes His career 4.39 ERA is just one headache to owning Hughes. He has only had one decent season in his career. You can do better.
5. Ivan Nova Competing with David Phelps for the final rotation spot, but could be on the short list to lose his job to Michael Pineda if he ever gets healthy. His high ERA is too much of a risk to consider him any later than the final rounds of your draft.
RP-Mariano Rivera It doesn’t matter how old he is, he’s still one of the top 5 closers that you want to own. The fact that the Yankees offense could be less explosive this year could play in his advantage to lead to more save opportunities. He won’t skip a beat, draft him like you normally would.
If you can afford to wait until early June, Michael Pineda may be a sneaky late round selection or post-draft pickup. He was one of the favorite rookies in 2011 with Seattle, but suffered a season-ending injury after being traded to the Yankees in 2012. He hasn’t even begun to reach his full potential, which gives fantasy owners a lot of optimism going into this season. Pineda is a high strikeout pitcher that does have his faults after the fifth inning, but has the talent to be the future of the Yankees’ pitching staff. Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes will find reasons to be sent to the bullpen by June, so Pineda is worth being your Mr. Irrelevant draft pick or at least being on your post-draft watchlist.
The Yankees catcher position is the biggest question mark of the offseason for New York, but their solution won’t arrive until later into the season. Austin Romine will start the season in Triple A, continuing to develop, while Francisco Cerveli and Chris Stewart platoon for the first part of the season. He won’t stay in the minors for too long, as neither of the other options are worthy of solidifying the job, but he’s nothing more than a post-draft watchlist candidate at this point. He’s not a home run juggernaut, but be can be a solid gap hitter.