30 Clubs in 30 Days: New York Yankees

Posted: February 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

ImageTypically, the New York Yankees are among baseball’s premier movers-and-shakers during the winter. Their past is littered with million dollar signings and prospect shedding mega-deals aimed at building a contender in the short-term at the expense of the long-term.

In 2013, however, the story will be rewritten. Rather than spend lavishly on top free agent targets Josh Hamilton and Zack Grienke, the Yankees were reserved. They landed a few mid-tier players like Kevin Youkilis. But, for the most part, their offseason was a time to get healthy and younger. Gone are aging vets like Russell Martin, Nick Swisher, and Raul Ibanez. In their place, the Yankees will attempt to infuse their bench with low-risk, bargain basement types. Will it work? They still have offensive catalysts like Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira. But, the Yankees’ biggest concern could be their pitching staff.

CC Sabathia remains a bonafide ace. But, it gets a bit murky after that. Hiroki Kuroda (38) and Andy Pettitte (40) showed that they still have something left in the tank. But, at their advanced age, injuries are sure to creep up at some point. Behind the big three are Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova, two right-handers with boatloads of potential handicapped by consistency issues.

Five Year Review:
2012: 95-67
Lost ALCS to Detroit, 4-0
2011: 97-65
Lost ALDS to Detroit, 3-2
2010: 95-67
Lost ALCS to Texas, 4-2
2009: 103-59
Won World Series over Phillies, 4-2
2008: 89-73

2012 Team MVP: 2B Robinson Cano – The best hitter in the New York lineup was once again Robinson Cano. The 30-year old free agent to be will look to improve on his already gaudy numbers as he aims towards a big payday next winter. In 2012, Cano enriched his resume. He placed top-6 in the MVP voting for the third consecutive season after reaching career highs in PA, 2B, HR, and BB. Not only that, but the star second-baseman made his fourth All-Star team, won his second Gold Glove, and won his fourth Silver Slugger. If this guy does not get $150+ million next offseason, it would be a total shock.

2012 Team LVP: 3B Alex Rodriguez – It is not that Roidriguez was terrible in 2012. He put up respectable numbers for an aging corner-infielder (.272-18-57). But, the price tag that comes with him is justification enough to earn the LVP award. The Yankees are on the tab for $114 million over the next five-years for the 2007 AL MVP. Unfortunately, the Yankees’ foresight did not consider the possibility that Rodriguez was all roided up during his glory days. Now, years later, his body is breaking down and the media is on him about his PED use. Recovering from a hip injury, Rodriguez will not be joining the team in Tampa for spring training. In fact, it seems unlikely that we see much of A-Roid at all this year after Brian Cashman went out and landed Kevin Youkilis to man the hot-corner.

Key Acquisitions:
1B/DH Travis Hafner (Cleveland)
3B Kevin Youkilis (Chicago White Sox)
OF Matt Diaz (Atlanta)
OF Juan Rivera (Los Angeles Dodgers)
RHP Shawn Kelley (Seattle)

Key Departures:
C Russell Martin (Pirates)
1B/3B Eric Chavez (Arizona)
1B/OF Nick Swisher (Cleveland)
OF Raul Ibanez (Seattle)
OF Andruw Jones (Japan)
RHP Freddy Garcia (San Diego)
RHP Rafael Soriano (Washington)
LHP Pedro Feliciano (New York Mets)

Projected Lineup/Rotation (w/composite 2013 projections):
RF Ichiro Suzuki (.306-7-53)
SS Derek Jeter (.296-8-52)
2B Robinson Cano (.307-28-105)
1B Mark Teixeira (.256-28-91)
CF Curtis Granderson (.249-32-89)
3B Kevin Youkilis (.257-14-49)
DH Travis Hafner (.255-11-41)
C Austin Romine (.242-3-15)
LF Brett Gardner (.269-7-51)

LHP CC Sabathia (14-7, 3.31)
RHP Hiroki Kuroda (12-8, 3.75)
LHP Andy Pettitte (10-6, 3.73)
RHP Phil Hughes (11-9, 4.35)
RHP Ivan Nova (12-10, 4.29)

2013 Outlook:

New York. If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere. A lot of people are down on the Yankees this year. They take the usual approach to forecasting in baseball. If your team made the biggest splash, they are the favorites. It happened two years ago with Boston and last year with the Angels. You know what they have in common? Neither made the playoffs. Toronto is getting all the love from this division because of their gutsy offseason moves. But, half the battle in baseball is chemistry. If the clubhouse is not cohesive, the wins will not follow. The Yankees have a team made up mostly of wily veterans with their eyes on the prize. Couple that with the talent level of their lineup, and I still think the Yankees win the AL East in 2013.

Yes, they have some concerns at catcher. But, Russell Martin was a disappointment at the dish last year. The Yankees have an abundance of young catchers that they can experiment with and their rotation is rather experienced, so no worries with regards to handling. The biggest question with New York right now is their depth. At most positions, there is not a clear-cut backup who can step in and handle the duties if someone went down. This is no more evident than the bullpen, where Mariano Rivera returns after missing much of last season due to a freak injury. Rafael Soriano, his replacement in 2012, is gone. That leaves David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, and a load of question marks as insurance should the aging Rivera break down. Still, with the Yankees’ financial flexibility, they should be adequately able to temper any problems that come up. I like New York to win 90-96 games and the AL East crown.

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