The New york Yankees start their march for a 28th championship title tomorrow at 3pm eastern time. While I do not follow the league as keenly as I once did (I can’t even name all thirty closers anymore) I still possess a pretty good beat on my hometown team. Here is my player by player analysis of the 2012 New York Yankees.
Catcher: Russell Martin
A bit overrated in my eyes. Supposedly a good locker room guy and tough as an overcooked rib eye, but he doesn’t produce like he did in his early years (he’s an under .250 hitter over the last three years). Behind the plate he is pretty solid all though not spectacular.
First Base: Mark Teixeira
It’s hard to gripe about a guy who consistently hits 30+ home runs, drives in 100+ runs and plays a gold glove first base, but I’m about to. In recent years he has fell in love with the short porch in right field and has become pull crazy. He no longer drives the ball the opposite way, he looks for a pitch in and tries to yank it over the right field fence. This can be seen in his dramatic decrease in batting average, .256 and .248 over the last two years respectively, for a guy who hits .281 for his career. This tendency has also manifested itself in the playoffs where he is hitting a putrid .136 over the last two years. In the playoffs you face a lot of good pitching and you need complete hitters, ones who do not have holes in their swings, in order to thrive.
Second Base: Robinson Cano
Talking about complete hitters, here is one of the top three pure hitter in the game (next to Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols). Cano does a great job of taking what the pitcher gives him and spraying the ball all over the field. He has hit 25+ homers, 40+ doubles and carries a .314 average over the last three years. Plus he plays a superb second base, coupling a powerful arm with an incredible smoothness in the field. Cano is arguably the Yankees most valuable player.
Third Base: Alex Rodriguez
Let me make it clear, I have not liked A-Rod since 2001 when he dissed Derek Jeter in an Esquire article. Now in 2012 their are a trove of articles outlining the demise of A-Rod, which I believe is a bit dramatic. I know in each of the last four years he has found his name on the disabled list, but this guy may be the greatest right handed hitter since Roger Hornsby. Add to that, he went to Germany this off season to receive the same dubious Rocky IV- Ivan Drago type leg surgery that Kobe Bryant received before the start of the NBA season and now look at Kobe, he leads the league in minutes and points per game.
Shortstop: Derek Jeter
O Captain! My Captain. As a Yankee fan I am contractually obligated to never criticize Derek Jeter. So he’ll be great.
Left Field: Brett Gardner
When he first came up to the big leagues I thought he was no more than a fourth outfield, but he proved me wrong displaying two legit MLB skills, base stealing and fielding. Both of these skills are routed in Gardner’s insane speed. He doesn’t quite read pitchers well when stealing bases and his great defensive value comes from the great range he can cover thanks to his wheels. But he is limited in the power department and if he hits .260 again he may be looking for a new job.
Center Field: Curtis Granderson
Granderson posted career numbers last year with 41 homers, 136 runs and 119 rbis. He’ll probably regress a bit this year but he should still be one of the premier center fielders in the AL. Though like Teixeira he tries to pull everything and can not claim to be a truly complete hitter, I mean the guy struck out nearly 170 times last year.
Right Field: Nick Swisher
This guys is a full count machine. I have never seen a player who went up to the plate trying to draw a walk. That being said, Swisher is about as average a player as you can get. He doesn’t hit for a great average but draws a bunch of walks, he has some power but strikes out a ton. Swisher is the ultimate neutral player.
Designated Hitter: Raul Ibanez/Eric Chavez/Andruw Jones/Eduardo Nunez
I don’t know exactly who, if anyone, will take the reins on this one, but it seems to me like it will end up being a hodge-podge platoon of match ups/who’s hot. The Yankee brass seem to really like Nunez and his potential. While the other three, well past their prime, have a combined six all star appearances among them and look to try an recapture some of their youth.
Backup Catcher: Chris Stewart
I know literally nothing about this guy, the Yankees just signed him yesterday.
Ace: CC Sabathia
I love CC, he is my favorite Yankees pitcher since Orlando Hernandez. The guy is an absolute bulldog on the mound, you can pencil him in for 230+ innings and 18+ wins. He gives you a chance to win every time he takes the rubber. The Yankees MVP comes down to him and Cano, period.
Starter: Hiroki Kuroda
An overlooked signing by Brian Cashman. The guy eats innings, has pretty good control and should be effective although I do anticipate a bump in his era, moving from the NL west to the AL east.
Starter: Phil Hughes
I attended Hughes’ Major League debut ready to embark on what was suppose to be a great career. What followed? A huge disappointment. He’s shown some flashes but thanks to injuries and overwhelming ineffectiveness I find it incredibly hard to expect anything positive coming from this guy in the immediate future.
Starter: Ivan Nova
He does not boast a strong K/9 or K:BB ratio and I don’t see him repeating his impressive rookie season, but maybe I’m wrong, if he keeps the ball on the ground maybe he can do what Chien-Ming Wang did for a few years.
Starter: Freddy Garcia
This guy’s been around and I can’t imagine him topping 150 innings this year.
Starter (DL): Michael Pineda
I hated this deal the moment I heard it. The Yankees traded Jesus Montero (a top five prospect) for a guy with one year big league experience who posted a +5.00 era in the second half of last season. Are you kidding me? Did you watch Montero at the plate in the last month of the season? This guy can rake in 60 at bats (I know it’s a small sample size) he put up .328/406/590 and showed power to the opposite field at age 21!! This guy can be the next Miguel Cabrera, for Christ sake. I know a lot of people are saying Pineda has just as much upside, but you fail to realize he has globs more downside. Look at young pitchers, young pitchers better than him, Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Joba Chamberlain, Dontrelle Willis, Brandon Webb, injuries to young pitchers are so common and detrimental, its basically a crap shoot.
Starter (Wildcard): Andy Pettite
Relievers: Clay Rapada/David Phelps
End of the bullpen guys they’ll bounce back and forth from AAA to the bigs all season.
Relievers: Boone Logan/Corey Wade
Pretty effective last season, but the shelf life on relievers is so hard to predict.
7th Inning Man: Rafael Soriano
Tremendously overpaid and struggled last year until he found a groove toward the end of the season. He’ll make about $11 mill this year. $11 mill for a seventh inning man, a luxury only the New York Yankees can afford.
Set-up Man: David Robertson
This guy is good, real good. He struck out 100 guys in under 70 innings last year while posting an era of 1.08. He issues a tad too many walks, but if he can refine his control he’d be superhuman. The heir apparent to Mariano Rivera.
Closer: Mariano Rivera
The most amazing man I have ever watched in sports. The man is the Jay-Z of closers, he has been around the game since 1995 and while others pop up and try to claim his throne (Eric Gagne, Billy Wagner, Brad Lidge, Joakim Soria) he always outlasts them and ends up on top. Unequivocally the greatest closer of all time.
I see the Yankees winning the wildcard but in a stacked AL east with an old base and questionable starting pitching behind CC I don’t see them winning the division. When it comes to the playoffs I always say that you’re only as good as your number two starter. If Pineda proves me wrong or Pettite can revive his career they could be in good shape, but I doubt either of those will happen. Yanks lose in the ALDS.