Thursday, March 7, 2013

MLB season preview: New York Yankees

This month I am previewing every team in the majors and giving my predicted finish for them. Today comes the New York Yankees, and while I am a huge Yankees fan being from New York I will do my best to be unbiased…and trust me this season that won’t be too much of an issue.

How much longer can these guys be the face of the Yankees?
I will be the first person to tell you that this Yankees team is old, and will not be the same Yankees offense that has been known. Manager Joe Girardi has already stated that the diminished offense will already have to learn how to rely on things other than the long ball. The losses of Nick Swisher and Russell Martin are the two biggest. Martin’s absence leaves a gaping hole at catcher and the replacements, Chris Stewart and Frankie Cervelli do not inspire much hope on offense. The Yankees will have to rely heavily on their pitching staff this season and how they do will decide how the Yankees do.

Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, and Robinson Cano are all pretty much locked in as 25+ homerun hitters and that pretty much sums up the power in the starting lineup. Derek Jeter led the majors in hits last season but comes off a nasty ankle injury. Brett Gardner was hurt most of the season but can steal 40+ bases when healthy, and Ichiro is old, 39 to be exact, but he hit .319 with the Yankees last season and still is one of the best defenders in the outfield. Kevin Youkilis will take over third base this season and well, his numbers have been declining a lot in recent seasons and the Yankees will just hope he can regain something and continue to be a walk machine.

The Field
C: Frankie Cervelli
1st: Mark Teixeira - Out until May
2nd: Robinson Cano
3rd: Kevin Youkilis
SS: Derek Jeter
LF: Curtis Granderson - Out until May
CF: Brett Gardner
RF: Ichiro
DH: Travis Hafner

Matt Diaz - Outfield
Chris Stewart - Catcher
Eduardo Nunez - Infield
Juan Rivera or Melky Mesa – Outfield

The offense just does not inspire a whole lot of confidence in the run scoring department and they have shown that they will and can fall into major slumps and strikeout a lot. Cano, Teixeira, and Granderson provide the power while Gardner and Ichiro provide the steals. The Yankees will also hope that Hafner, Diaz, Rivera, and Youkilis all find some form of their former selves to be serviceable pieces.
Team defense should be fine though as once Granderson is healthy they should have one of the best outfield defenses in the league with Gardy, Grandy, and Ichiro. Cano and Teixeira are gold glovers while Frankie Cervelli has become a pretty decent defender behind the plate. Jeter has lost a lot of range and Youkilis is not really anything special at the hot corner. If Melky Mesa makes the team he could provide a good spark with his skill set. Reports say the power, speed, and arm strength are all very real.

Granderson and Texiara will both be out until May. It sounds like Eduardo Nunez could get the nod at third and Kevin Youkilis will move to first base-- not the worst situation out there but not ideal. Don't be surprised to see the Yankees look elsewhere around the majors to solve the left field situation. Alfonso Soriano anyone?

The Rotation
CC Sabathia
Hiroki Kuroda
Andy Pettitte
Ivan Nova
Phil Hughes

The ‘Pen
Mariano Rivera
David Robertson
Boone Logan
Clay Rapada
Joba Chamberlain
David Aardsma
David Phelps

CC Sabathia is a bonafide ace, we all know that. Kuroda pitched very well in his first season in the Bronx and he thoroughly enjoyed pitching there as well, his performance in the playoffs was inspiring but we worry after putting more than 200 innings on that right arm last season. Pettitte just cannot say goodbye and returns once more to try and win another ring, he proved last season that when healthy he can still be a very effective pitcher. Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes round out the rotation and despite their massive amounts of talent they struggle to put it all together, Nova with his command, and Hughes with putting guys away. The bullpen will be very good, Mo is Mo and despite coming off a torn ACL the ageless wonder returns for what is expected to be the final season of a first ballot hall of fame career. David Robertson and Boone Logan are excellent in the setup roles while Clay Rapada and David Aardsma take care of same side hitters. All in all the pitching staff while be the vocal point for the Yankees and they will hope that Michael Pineda can return in early May and regain the form he showed during his rookie season with the Mariners.

Player to Watch
Brett Gardner is the player to watch for me this season on the Yankees. He is a slap hitter with top of the line speed. His ability to make the pitcher work will be a key component for the Yankees this season and they will hope that he stays healthy all season which should allow for him to steal 40+ bases while playing gold glove defense in center field.

Brett Gardner can be a pain for all AL pitchers. 
Predicted finish: 2nd in the AL East
This Yankees team will still be good, just not as good as recent teams have been. The talent is there and reinforcements are on the way. They have many youngsters in the farm systems who are very close to contributing to the big club and one name to listen for this season is reliever Mark Montgomery. I won’t make too much of a fuss about a reliever a lot but Montgomery has some of the best stuff I’ve seen in a long time. Guys like Jeter, Pettitte, and Rivera will keep this team fighting and I think we see the Yankees take 2nd in the division but in this league, who knows if that equates to a playoff spot.

--Kenny Celelli

No comments:

Post a Comment