Since 2009, one of the traditions of the spring has been the Playing Pepper series. I ask a number of questions of blogs–some in the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, some not–that cover the other 29 teams in Major League Baseball. This year, not only is my son involved–he and I came up with the last question together–but the series is also brought to you by Purpose, Perseverance and Power Arms, the United Cardinal Bloggers annual publication. Only $2.99 at the Kindle store, so get yours today! But first, get out the bats and gloves and let’s play some pepper.
New York Yankees
85-77, tied for third in the AL East
Love ’em or hate ’em, you can’t ignore ’em. Everything seems bigger in New York, at least in the coverage, and so not much flies under the radar when it comes to the pinstripers. For instance, did you know their shortstop is retiring?
Sometimes that coverage creates an advantage, however. I cast a wide net for Yankee blogs to help out and, boy, did they turn out. Settle in for some quite good analysis from:
- Christopher from The Baseball Stance, one of our General Chapter BBA members. You’ll see him Tweeting @Chris_Carelli.
- Elizabeth who contributes to Double G Sports, a Yankees BBA member that covers more than just baseball. She’s on Twitter @ElizabethDiPiet.
- William, the BBA’s General Chapter president, who has been writing since the dawn of time (ok, maybe not THAT long) at The Flagrant Fan and also contributes to our next blog. His Twitter name is @FlagrantFan.
- Stacey from It’s About The Money, part of the ESPN network of blogs. You can find Stacey on Twitter @StaceGots.
- Kate from Lady Loves Pinstripes. She’s on Twitter @LadyLovesPins.
- Derek is at Pinstripe Pundits. You can Tweet him @PS_Pundits.
- Aviv writes at Sox vs. Stripes, a blog which you may remember from our Boston entry. That Twitter handle is @soxvsstripes.
- Lisa is the Yankee half of Subway Squawkers, which we met in yesterday’s Mets writeup. Those tweets come from @subwaysquawkers.
- Billy, who is here as the author of WestCoastYankees–The Blog (and Tweets at @Billy_Brost) but also helps out…
- Jason at Yanks Go Yard, part of the Fansided network. He Tweets @jasonjpevans.
Yeah, you’ll need a comfy chair for this one. The great thing about this many opinions? They don’t all mesh nicely together!
C70: How would you grade the offseason?
BST: I’d give them an A for effort and a B+ final grade. No one can say they didn’t go out and do everything they felt possible to secure the players they coveted. I love the Masahiro Tanaka signing and believe Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran are serious upgrades to what the Yankees put out there last season. But, I think pushing $155 million to Jacoby Ellsbury is going to be an issue in the long run and so is the inability to find one regular to fill either/both the second base or third base roles. Brian Roberts, the presumed replacement for Robinson Cano is sure to get injured and Kelly Johnson has played 16 games at third base in his career. Behind them, Brendan Ryan, Eduardo Nunez and a host of minor leaguers over little comfort as solutions for 2014.
DGS: I would grade the offseason as a B+. The Yankees went out and spent a ton of money this offseason (nearly half a billion dollars) to sign free agents like Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, and of course Masahiro Tanaka. They also re-signed Hiroki Kuroda, which appears to be the right move to make even though Kuroda had an abysmal second half last year. However, many holes in the lineup, pitching staff, and field still remain. A viable replacement for Robinson Cano was not acquired, although—let’s be honest—was there ever one available? Alex Rodriguez’s suspension dictates that he won’t play in 2014, but who’s replacing him? And we’re not even talking about offensively. The best answer the Yankees have so far is a possible platoon of Kelly Johnson and Eduardo Nunez. Yankee fans are familiar with Nunez’s lack of reliability when it comes to defense, and Brian Cashman himself said that Johnson, a former second baseman, would be getting a “crash course” in third-basing. So it remains to be seen if the platoon can succeed A-Rod to Yankee fans’ approval. Overall, obstinate Yankee fans cannot have too much to complain about this offseason; the Yankees filled an obvious hole in the starting rotation with Tanaka, and, in McCann, acquired the offensive-threatening catcher they had been craving since Posada retired. They also acquired more options for the outfield and designated hitter positions, although, admittedly, those were not their biggest holes to fill at the onset of the offseason.
FF: I would grade the off season a solid B. Yankee catchers compiled a .587 OPS last year and they brought in Brian McCann. They lost Robinson Cano, but in the long run, a ten year contract would have been crippling. Much of Cano’s loss on offense could be made up by the additions of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. But they cannot replace Cano’s defense with anyone on the current roster. Masahiro Tanaka was the acquisition that put the off season into the plus side and bringing back Hiroki Kuroda for one more year will help Tanaka adjust that much better. Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson could be nice pickups. And obtaining Dean Anna from the Padres is excellent insurance in case Roberts cannot do the job. I am rather hoping that Anna gets the chance some time during the season. I would give the Yankees an A if they had obtained one more quality infielder for second or third that has a proven above average bat and league average or better fielding. If Jeter does not hold up, the infield could get ugly. Losing Phil Hughes and Jaba Chamberlain were additions by subtraction. I wish Eduardo Nunez had gone with them.
IATM: I’d give this offseason a solid B+. I would have given it a B before they signed Masahiro Tanaka and before I saw his splitter. I think the additions of Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran are great and while the infield seems like it may be a little iffy with the loss of Cano, Rodriguez’s suspension and with Derek Jeter turning 40 in June, if Brian Roberts can stay healthy and Kelly Johnson can contribute, I think 2014 can be better than people think it will be.
LLP: I give the Yankees a C+ grade for this past off-season. Yes, that is a low grade when you consider how much money the Yankees spent, but I do not think it was spent that wisely. Solving one problem, while discounting a newer one has once again left the Yankees without a Plan B. Truth is the 2014 Yankees have 15 great players who can win it all, as long as things go perfectly and that is a gamble.
PP: B. Hard to complain much with all the moves they made, but there are still significant holes in the infield and bullpen.
SVS: I give this offseason a D. The Yankees have spent about a half-billion dollars this offseason, still have a ton of problems and have made the team marginally better than last year’s squad, which overperformed based on Pythagorean record. The four big signings (McCann, Ellsbury, Beltran and Tanaka) are all huge risks and at least three of those contracts (McCann, Ellsbury, Beltran) will become bad deals. Tanaka is a 25 year old who hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors and is being paid like a Cy Young winner. Throw in the loss of Robinson Cano out of fear of giving out a bad, long-term deal, and that just makes this offseason mind-boggling.
SS: I will give it a C+. Biggest plus is getting Masahiro Tanaka – the Yankees may have overpaid for the possible No. 3 starter, as a certain GM referred to him, but in this case, they had to do it. Second best signing was getting Brian McCann, the catcher the team so desperately needed. Both are solid players who fill holes on this current Yankee team. Resigning Brett Gardner was good, too, although the Yanks may have overpaid for him.
I am not as excited by the signings of Jacoby Ellsbury (he has had only one elite season, as well as a history of injury) or Carlos Beltran (the Yankees should have signed him a decade ago, as opposed to now.) The fact that two smart franchises let these players go gives me pause.
To me, the worst thing of the offseason was the fact that the Yanks let their top player, Robinson Cano, leave to get more money with Seattle. It makes no sense to overpay for so many of their other signings, but to hold the line at retaining their best player. Contrary to the team’s spin, I contend that they could have gotten the deal done at eight years. Can’t blame Cano for going elsewhere, though.
And finally, the fact that this team does not have viable replacements for Alex Rodriguez, Cano, or the retiring Derek Jeter is appalling. Why is the farm system such a mess, and why isn’t anybody being held responsible for it? Even the Mets have more young ML-ready players than the Yankees do at this point!
WCY: There are many ways a Yankees’ fan could look at the offseason. Some would say it was complete success given the free agent acquisitions of Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and of course, Masahiro Tanaka. Unfortunately, for those of us that bleed pinstripes and look at the complete picture, the Yankees still have some dire needs to fill, and a lack of adequate players to do so with. The loss of Robinson Cano to the Mariners is going to be felt for years to come. A team just doesn’t replace a Cano, but rather attempt to make up for his production by upgrading several other areas in the lineup. The Yankees did that with the aforementioned free agent signings. Heading into spring training, the Yankees still have several questions in the bullpen, the infield, and the back end of the rotation. Overall, the team did a nice job, but fell short of a completely successful offseason. Grade: B
YGY: I would give the off-season a B-. They definitely upgraded positions they needed to in catcher and the outfield. Signing Tanaka was a huge upgrade. I don’t think they did enough to help the infield or in the bullpen. Matt Thornton is not going to cut it.
C70: Was avoiding the luxury tax ever a real consideration or was it mostly media hype?
BST: I believe it was a real consideration until they missed the postseason in 2013. Once they started claiming there wasn’t a mandate to stay under the threshold, it became apparent to me that they could and would easily eclipse the mark.
DGS: Avoiding the luxury tax was a nice thought, but everyone knew it wasn’t going to happen once the Red Sox won the World Series in 2013. Yankee fans look at 2013 in almost the same light as they view 2008; they missed the playoffs, and they are hoping that the end result of the subsequent season matches 2009. There were too many questions the Yankees had to answer, even in the wake of A-Rod’s suspension, which gave the Yankees another $25 million or so to play with. The starting rotation was too tenuous, what with CC Sabathia’s subpar 2013 season, Andy Pettitte’s retirement, and Kuroda’s abysmal second half. Many also speculated that the Yankees would shell out money for an established closer, but it looks like they’re going with David Robertson, their former setup man. In summary, the Yankees had too many questions after 2013 for the $189 million to be a legitimate goal, and their fans would not have been satisfied with a “rebuilding” season.” Both their attendance and TV ratings were down last year, presumably due to A-Rod’s and Jeter’s injuries and a perceived lack of big stars, despite the fact that their reserves over-performed during the first half of the season.
FF: I think that the team would have liked to stay under the luxury tax if they could have still improved the team. But the loss of ticket revenue and television viewership cost much more to the team than any luxury tax could and the team had no choice to fix those issues before thinking about staying under the luxury tax.
IATM: I’m thinking it was a combo of the two if that’s at all possible. I think the Yankees really thought they could try and keep the payroll down while fielding a good enough team but didn’t actually have the foresight to get it done. You can’t just decide, after signing so many big money contracts with a lot of years attached to them that, “Okay now, we’re going to stop spending.” Things don’t work that way and the Yankees found that out. After last year’s disappointing outcome and with the amount of revenue they lost because the team didn’t make the playoffs, the higher ups wisely decided to bite the bullet and go all out this offseason.
LLP: Absolutely! Hal Steinbrenner is no dummy, and signing Masahiro Tanaka will bring in way more money than avoiding the luxury tax by staying under $189 million. Add that to Derek Jeter’s farewell season, and cha-ching! And if the $189 million was a publicity stunt, Robinson Cano would be in Tampa right now with the Yankees, and not in Scottsdale with the Mariners.
PP: It was. The way the team positioned itself the past couple of offseasons (not pursuing Yu Darvish, Yoenis Cespedes, Zack Greinke, etc while letting Russell Martin and Nick Swisher walk) exhibited true consideration.
SVS: Falling below the luxury tax threshold was not media hype. Rather it is a perfect example of the schizophrenic philosophy of the Yankees hierarchy and the dysfunctional command structure. The team has an internal battle between baseball people, who want to use modern metrics and statistical analytics to build a team with a strong minor league system, and corporate business leaders who are concerned about the short-term bottom line, focusing on attendance at Yankee Stadium, ratings on YES and the success of the major league product this year. Caught in the middle is Hal Steinbrenner, who can’t decide on an organizational philosophy.
SS: I think it was a little of both. I think the reality is that they had two choices at the end of this season. They could have gone into rebuilding/reloading mode, cleared house in the front office, passed on Cano and the free agents they signed, and made some changes to the farm system that could bear fruit in a few years. Or they could have, right from the beginning, blown up the budget and re-signed Cano as well as signing the other people they did. They passed on rebuilding, because their ratings and ticket sales would take a hit. The question is this team a winner with the money they spent, and without Cano?
The thing is, if the Yanks knew they were going to have to go over the $189 million, why not pay the money for Cano? It’s very strange.
WCY: The Yankees had the best of intentions when considering the $189 million dollar payroll threshold that would’ve reset their luxury tax level in 2015. Unfortunately, that mission and goal went by the wayside when the team was decimated by injuries throughout 2013, and they missed the playoffs for only the second time since 1995. Had the Yankees made the playoffs last season, perhaps the overspending spree the team went on this winter might have been avoided. Instead, because of a lack of a productive farm system, the Yankees had to pay big bucks for band-aids over what I consider gut wounds. The luxury tax was a real goal, but the lack of postseason play, the empty seats at Yankee Stadium, and the declining television ratings made the decision to throw the goal out the window a necessity at this point in time.
YGY: I think they wanted to stay under the tax line, however, it got to a point where they didn’t have a choice and had to go over to help the team.
C70: Which roster battle will be most intriguing during spring training?
BST: The fifth starter role is the biggest (and maybe only) battle in camp. Michael Pineda is finally healthy and David Phelps has handled the role off and on for the Yankees the last couple of seasons. Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno are also getting looks, but the true fight is between Pineda and Phelps. I think if the Yankees had their choice, they’d want Pineda in the fifth slot and Phelps in the pen, potentially getting some important late-inning work ahead of closer David Robertson. Pineda, who is only 25, has significant upside and seems to be in the right frame of mind to excel again. Phelps has proven he can pitch from any spot so his versatility actually hurts his chances, in my opinion, of winning the last spot. Phelps might be more valuable this season as a bullpen option considering the inexperience of the other late-inning options. Warren will likely settle in as the long-man out of the pen as he did in 2013 and Nuno will start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
DGS: The most compelling battle of spring training will not be for a roster spot, but for a spot in the starting rotation. The Yankees seem to have their top four spots filled, with Sabathia, Kuroda, Tanaka, and Nova. Several pitchers will compete for the final spot. Michael Pineda is finally supposedly healthy after shoulder surgery, and reports say Joe Girardi is impressed. Other possibilities include David Phelps, Adam Warren, and Vidal Nuno, all of whom have logged innings in the past as starters and relievers. Whoever does not win the coveted spot will most likely join the bullpen. The role of setup man hasn’t been established yet either, so one of those pitchers will likely land it.
FF: The fifth starter will be interesting. David Phelps is a decent and reliable pitcher, but he will never blow you away with his talent. If Michael Pineda and/or Vidal Nuno can stay healthy, their pure stuff projects better. So that will be interesting to see what happens during the spring. The infield will be interesting to watch to see if Roberts has anything left and whether Kelly Johnson can be better than league average at third. Whether J.R. Murphy, Francisco Cervelli or Austin Romine get the backup catching job will be a battle.
IATM: I guess it will be interesting to see who ends up at second and third. I’m not really sure it’s a battle for position in Brian Roberts’s case. I think for him it’s more of a battle to stay healthy.
LLP: The Yankees only real position battle is for the fifth spot in the starting rotation. The front-runners are presumably Michael Pineda and David Phelps. It is Triple A or bust for Pineda, while Phelps will be make the club in the bullpen if not in the rotation.
PP: There will be a few good ones: 5th starter, middle relief, and infield. I guess 5th starter will be most interesting, because we should get to see Michael Pineda in action for the first time in quite a while.
SVS: The most intriguing roster battle will be for the fifth spot in the rotation. Ideally, the Yankees would like Michael Pineda to seize that job and provide some return for the Jesus Montero trade. But Vidal Nuno was impressive in limited time last season, while David Phelps has been solid as a long reliever and deserves and opportunity to show if he can be a starter.
SS: Who will be the Yankees ace, and the No. 2 man in the rotation, is very interesting to me. Is Tanaka going to make an impact? Is CC Sabathia going to back up his hard work and weight loss in the offseason by keeping his spot at the top of the rotation? What about Ivan Nova – is he going to build on last year. And how about Michael Pineda? Is 2014 the year he finally contributes to the team? How will Hideki Kuroda do after a disappointing end to 2013?
WCY: There should be two spring training roster battles to keep an eye on. The first will be determining who will replace David Robertson as the 8th inning set-up man leading to Robertson at the end of the game. The early favorite is journeyman reliever Shawn Kelley, whom the Yankees acquired last year from the Mariners. His K/9 rate is eye-popping, but he needs to show Joe Girardi that he can consistently miss bats, and be able to pitch out of jams to preserve the lead. The other candidate, who is the darkhorse is former prospect Dellin Betances. He was absolutely putrid as a starter, and his control, or lack thereof, forced the Yankees to move him to the bullpen at Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Once in the bullpen, Betances showed his ability, with a devastating fastball. He needs to cut down on his walks, which has always been his Achilles heel. He’s out of options, so he either makes the big club out of spring training, or his Yankees’ career is likely over. Betances could push Kelley for the set-up role with a solid spring showing.
The other position battle to keep an eye on is at third base. The battle to replace the suspended Alex Rodriguez will likely be a war of attrition. Eduardo Nunez has the capability with the bat, but his defense is something to be desired. The Yankees signed utility-man Kelly Johnson, who is the favorite going into camp. He’s had two straight seasons of 16 home runs, but doesn’t hit much for average. With 500 at-bats, Johnson would break the 20+ home run barrier with the short right field porch in the Bronx. The dark horse candidate is the recently acquired “Dean of Swing”, Dean Anna. He had a tremendous season last year at Triple-A in the Padres system, and has the ability to play third base, shortstop, and second base. He will probably begin the season back at Triple-A, but if he continues to hit, and one of the other two candidates falter, expect to see Anna on the big league roster before the end of the summer.
YGY: I think the last backup infield spot has been an interesting battle. I think Yangervis Solarte is catching up to Eduardo Nunez for the spot. Scott Sizemore or even Russ Canzler could grab it too. i think it goes to the last day of camp.
C70: What rookie, if any, will make the most impact on the team in 2014?
BST: Dellin Betances. He seems to have found his niche as a hard-thrower out of the bullpen and is healthy to boot. If he can maintain control, he has significant upside. I would not be surprised if he is the primary setup man for Robertson by the end of the season.
DGS: As a technical rookie in the United States, Tanaka will make the biggest impact on the team. As far as regular rookies go, there are a couple of pitchers (Banuelos and Betances) who have the potential to be impactful if they make the roster, but they have had their shots in the past and didn’t quite pan out. There could also be a rookie battle for backup catcher, between JR Murphy and Gary Sanchez, but they will both have to beat out Austin Romine, who put in a respectable effort last year when Francisco Cervelli went down. Neither one stands to make a tremendous offensive impact on the Yankees, however.
FF: Well…Tanaka will be a rookie, but most people do not look at it like that. J.R. Murphy could make a difference if he gets the backup catching position. Both Dean Anna and Jose Pirella have nice upsides if the current infield does not gel. The only other consideration is Manny Banuelos, a power arm coming back from TJ surgery. He is an exciting talent.
IATM: Well, Tanaka is a technically a rookie so I’ll go the safe route and pick him to make the biggest impact this season but if we’re talking prospects, I think that maybe Dellin Betances has a chance to contribute out of the bullpen if he can be consistent with his mechanics.
LLP: Starting pitcher Michael Pineda. I have watched Pineda since he was in the minors with the Mariners, and this kid is the real deal. The Yankees rotation will be top three in MLB if Pineda is dealing, and from what I hear the 6’7, 25-year old is looking good thus far.
PP: Masahiro Tanaka. Excluding him, I’d say Dean Anna.
SVS: Tanaka will have the biggest impact for better or worse. If he pitches like a front of the rotation pitcher, this team might be able to compete. If he’s mediocre, the team will be mediocre. If he turns in Kei Igawa, well, heads will roll.
SS: Rookie? What’s a rookie? The Yankees don’t have any of them anymore!
WCY: The answer to this question depends on one’s definition of “rookie.” Obviously there has been much fanfare about the arrival of Masahiro Tanaka from Japan. He will slot into the #3 starter’s role behind C.C. Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda. For 7-years and $155 million, he should make the most impact for the Yankees in 2014. I would project a season of 12-14 wins, 150 Ks, and an ERA of around 3.75. If the Yankees can get that, and Sabathia returns to form, I think the Yankees are a contender for a Wild Card berth in the highly-competitive American League East.
YGY: Tanaka is technically a rookie so I would say him. If not him, I think Dellin Betances will have an impact out of the pen setting up for David Robertson.
C70: What will be the final record of the team and where will they finish in the division?
BST: 90-72 (second in AL East and will earn wild card spot).
DGS: The Yankees will finish 89-73, second in the division behind Boston. If Pineda can replicate his velocity from his rookie 2011 season, Sabathia stays healthy, and Tanaka’s success can translate, their rotation can be one of the strongest in the American League. If Jeter, Teixeira, the injury-prone Ellsbury, and the aging Beltran can stay healthy, their lineup can be potent as well. But there are still the issues of a weak infield–both offensively and defensively—as well as bullpen questions. A lot of things are going to need to fall into place for the Yankees to win the division or even make the playoffs, especially when you consider the fact that they spent nearly half a billion dollars this offseason.
FF: This is a great question. If Derek Jeter has anything left, if Mark Teixeira can get back to his effective self, if Beltran can fool Father Time for another season and if CC Sabathia bounces back on the mound, then the team could win 90 games and vie for the division title. If none of those things occur, this is an 85-win, third place team.
IATM: Earlier in the offseason I predicted 84-78 which angered some people but now I’m revising it and being a little more ballsy. I’m going with 89-73 and a second place finish in the division. I think the Yankees will be better than advertised.
LLP: Yikes! This is a tough one, as what Yankees fan wouldn’t love to see the Captain win another World Series Championship? But reality is the Yankees missed the postseason last year, and despite the many delusional fans that believe they are experiencing déjà vu need to wake up! This isn’t a 2009 revival, not even close.
I do like the Yankees chances better this season compared to last, but that is easy considering the pitiful offense they had. The offense, outfield and starting rotation all got upgraded big time in the off-season. The foreseeable glitches are in the infield and bullpen, as both took huge steps backwards and are scarily shallow.
I predict the 2014 Yankees will finish with 86-76. That lands them in second place right behind the current WS champion Red Sox and tied with the Rays. Yankees will play Rays in a tiebreaker for one of the Wild Card berths, but they end up losing that game by one run. Now that is what I call a prediction.
PP: 89-73, 2nd place
SVS: 85-77. third place. Too old. Too many questions. Too many holes.
SS: Last year I got a lot of grief for saying that I didn’t think the Yankees would win any more than 86 games, or finish any higher than third, but I was right. This year, I think they will not win any more than 91 games, and will not finish higher than third. Don’t forget that the Yanks no longer have Mariano Rivera as the closer, so I expect them to lose some games just because of that.
WCY: Many things have to go right for the Yankees to contend in 2014. Health being the most important. How this team won 85 games with the injuries they suffered a season ago boggles the mind. Assuming that some of the older players suffer minor injuries (Jeter, Roberts, Teixeira), the Yankees should stay in contention for most of the season. Unfortunately for the Yankees, there are still too many questions and not enough answers with the bullpen and stability of the infield. The Yankees improve from last season, but fall just short of a Wild Card berth, finishing with a record of 87-75, good for third place in the AL East, a full 9 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the division crown, and 5 full games behind their bitter rivals, the Boston Red Sox.
YGY: I think they finish at 89 wins and play in the wild card game.
C70: Which player from your team do you most enjoy watching?
BST: Derek Jeter. Even though he has lost some burst of speed over the years, there is always max effort when he is on the field. I’ve enjoyed watching him since he stepped foot on the field in 1995 and he will be missed after he retires at the end of this season. This will be an interesting question for me in 2015.
DGS: The most enjoyable player to watch on the Yankees is undoubtedly Derek Jeter. According to Jeter at his press conference this past Wednesday, in which he officially announced his retirement at the end of the season, he feels good physically and made no bones about the fact that he’s still got a whole season to go. I’m looking forward to an entire season (hopefully) of Jeter’s leadership, trademark plays in the hole, and inside-out swing.
FF: I have been watching Derek Jeter for seventeen years and he has been the “legacy” of the championship run. But rooting for him is difficult because most of the time you watch through the cracks of your fingers hoping he does not look bad or have his body totally give out on him. I enjoy Mark Teixeira at first because he is amazing at a position that does not get enough credit for anchoring down the infield.
IATM: I enjoy watching Brett Gardner battling at the plate. There are lots of times when he’ll start in an 0-2 hole and before you know it, it’s the 10th pitch of the at bat. I don’t think he gets a lot of credit for his plate presence.
LLP: Please refer to answer #4.
PP: Difficult choice without Robinson Cano on the team, and a bunch of new guys that we haven’t really seen regularly. I guess Hiroki Kuroda is the most enjoyable to watch of what I’ve seen most often.
SVS: I grew up a Don Mattingly fan, and absolutely loved watching Mariano Rivera (I’m so glad my 7-year-old son got watch and appreciate him last year). But that leaves me looking for a new guy to embrace. On this year’s team, I’d say I enjoy watching Brett Gardner most because of hustle and grind-it-out style of play, but I won’t say I have a favorite on par with Mattingly and Rivera.
SS: CC Sabathia, particularly as of late. He has transformed his body – I look forward to see how he will transform his pitching this year.
But don’t forget – as if you could! – that this is Derek Jeter’s last season, and seeing how he handles this year will be fun to watch. Hopefully his ankle will hold up.
WCY: Coming into this season, I will enjoy watching every inning that Derek Jeter is healthy and able to play. With his announcement that 2014 will be his final season in pinstripes, it will officially close the book on the “Core Four” era of Yankees baseball, and the team will begin it’s transition one year from now. Growing up a Don Mattingly fan, I can sympathize with Yankees fans who have only known this team with Jeter. He is one of the all-time greats and his presence will not be easily replaced in the Bronx.
YGY: Derek Jeter especially because it’s his last run.
My thanks to each and every one of these talented bloggers for their time and insights on the Yankees. There’s no doubt that no matter what happens this season, it won’t be boring in New York!