Is it bad that this is what I think of when I think of the typical Yankees fan? 27 rangz yo. I don’t even dislike the Yankees. This is just what happens when your the team everybody loves to hate and even file and win a lawsuit claiming that only your team can be called the evil empire. For years the Yankees rode a huge TV contract to massive free agent signings, although many of the key players during their late 90’s World Series runs were home grown, and drew the ire of many sports fans that felt like they bought wins and rings. I never really thought you can blame them for playing the pocket aces they were dealt. These are the new Yankees though. they haven’t really had a recent huge signing after Mark Texiera and CC Sabathia, their best current player, Robinson Cano, is home grown, and they’ve even vowed to get below the $189M luxury tax cap. If anything, the Dodgers, are the new Yankees. As the try to pare payroll back, they face the reality that their high priced veterans are getting old – they still owe Alex Rodriguez over $100M dollars – and they don’t have a excess of young talent to fill those voids. I don’t know if they’ll get back to their spendy ways to fill those spots or if they’ll suffer a few worse years in order to restock for another 5-6 year run of dominance. Those are long term questions, and we can only talk semi-intelligently about this year.
So what does a “light” offseason for the Yankees look like?
Major Off-Season Moves:
The Youkilis signing turned a few heads since all fans think a long time Red Sox player would hate the Yankees and never sign – right Johnny Damon? Youk still swings a nice bat will be serviceable at 3B. This is a good 1 yr signing. I think taking a chance on Hafner is good idea. The Yankees lost some nice production from Nick Swisher and Hafner will fill that power gap some. (You know, as long as e can play more than 20 games) the Kuroda and Pettitte signings were absolutely necessary to fill out the rotation with some quality arms. If they hadn’t. they would be looking at signing a free agent and potentially giving up a draft pick – hello Kyle Lohse. Some of the bigger off season moves were the ones the Yankees didn’t make. They let Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano – players that had very good years – walk because they both wanted bigger money long term deals. The Yankees were not going to make that commitment.
Now onto the lineup after the jump.
Likely Starting Lineup:
If this was the lineup for the 2007 season then it would be amazing. But its 2013. Ichiro, Derek Jeter, Mark Texiera, Youkilis and Hafner have all likely have their best season in the rear view mirror. Robinson Cano is pretty much a .300-30-100 guarantee. Cano and Curtis Granderson are definitely capable of incredible seasons, but the cloud of impending free agency looms over head. Sometimes this leads to a huge season and bigger payday. That will be a blessing and curse for the Yankees. The Yankees will likely find out what the various teams that let go of certain veterans did – they don’t quite work like they used to. The Mariners figured out that Ichiro is no longer a lead off hitter. The Red Sox, White Sox, and Indians were scared off of injury issues with Youkilis and Hafner respectively. The good news going forward is these are all 1 yr deals. The bad news is this is the Yankees lineup for 2013. Now I haven’t even touched on the Granderson and Texiera injuries. Granderson is expected to miss about 4-6 weeks of the season and we can’t be certain what he’ll be like when he comes back. Texiera should be out a little longer. We really don’t know what they will get from these two when they come back. That’s not even factoring in rehab setbacks. I have Ichiro leading off for now, but I think it’s about 50/50 that we see Brett Gardner in that slot with Ichiro bumped down to 8 or 9. This team will put up runs in Yankee Stadium, but it’s far for a murderer’s row.
Likely Starting Rotation:
Like several other teams, the Yankees have their ace workhorse at the top. CC Sabathia might not have highlight stuff, but he piles up the innings, outs, and wins. Behind him there are some questions. Hiroki Kuroda had a great year last year with a 3.32 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, but he is 38 years old and although he doesn’t rely on power there has to be some injury concern there. The same story is true of Andy Pettitte. Pitched well in 2012, but you wonder when his age will catch up to him. Ont he other end of the spectrum, you have two younger players, both 26, that have not had a sustained level of success. Hughes’ ERA was 4.42 and Nova’s top 5.00. If the questions among these four pitchers are answered int he Yankees favor, then the rotation will be fine. But if two of them go down hill quickly, it could be a long season. Mariano Rivera is back in the closer spot after a year out with injury. Although he is getting up there in age, (this could well be his final year) I don’t have any question that he will be effective and return to be one of the best closers in the game.
88-74, 2nd place in AL East
The Yankees will be facing some tough decision after the 2013 season and the new CBA has prevented them from signing any free agent they want because of draft pick compensation. This team will be good and it could easily win the division, but I think not all of the questions will be answered in the Yankees favor. If a majority of the answers turn out bad, it could get ugly, especially with the other teams in the AL East. The Red Sox are the only team that would surprise me by winning the AL East. It could even be more interesting if the Yankees are dropping out of contention and consider trading some their pending free agents to restock the farm system. It seems odd to think the Yankees could be sellers at the trade deadline, but I wouldn’t count out the possibility.