New York Yankees preview: Can Bombers still dominate AL East?
The New York Yankees did not make any splashy signings this offseason. There was no courting of Josh Hamilton or wining and dining of Zack Greinke. New York seems, for the moment at least, to be holding true to its self-imposed goal of getting under the $189 million payroll limit to avoid the luxury tax.
The moves the New York Yankees did make were mostly re-signing the old guard (Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte) and the old guys who were on the team last year (Ichiro Suzuki and Hiroki Kuroda). The only surprising signing the team made was Kevin Youkilis … surprising only in that the infielder was a Boston Red Sox stalwart. Youk was brought in on a one-year deal to take over third base while Alex Rodriguez recovers from yet another hip surgery.
The big question for the New York Yankees: Can they stay healthy enough to truly compete in an even tougher American League East division?
New York Yankees lineup
With Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson on the disabled list until sometime in April, a less-potent lineup than last year is going to be even more anemic for a little while. Robinson Cano will be relied on heavily to do most of the damage on offense. Manager Joe Girardi says he’s going to put Cano in the third spot, which means potentially Youkilis will be hitting clean up. Both hitters have looked good this spring. Cano was even named Pool C MVP in the World Baseball Classic for the Dominican Republic.
Look for the New York Yankees to play some small ball with speedy, slap hitters Brett Gardner and Ichiro (although Ichiro can also has the ability to deposit a few balls over the short porch in right field). Add a healthy Derek Jeter to the mix and the Yankees should be able to hold down the fort until everyone gets healthy.
New York Yankees rotation
It’s going to be pretty much the same rotation as last year:
If anyone goes down with an injury or if Nova is ineffective, David Phelps will be waiting in the bullpen. Also, Yankees fans can look out for Michael Pineda, who is rehabbing from season ending Tommy John surgery and could take the mound by midseason.
New York Yankees opening day lineup
- Ichiro RF
- Derek Jeter SS
- Robinson Cano 2B
- Kevin Youkilis 3B
- Travis Hafner DH
- Juan Rivera 1B
- Ben Francisco LF
- Brett Gardner CF
- Chris Stewart C
New York Yankees prospect watch
The top four New York Yankees prospects — Gary Sanchez, C; Tyler Austin, OF; Mason Williams, OF; and Slade Heathcott, OF — are still not quite ready for prime time. Strikeout relief artist Mark Montgomery is the young Yankee most likely to get a call up sooner rather than later this season. Additionally, catching prospect Austin Romine could see time with the big league club if Francisco Cervelli or Stewart crash and burn at any point.
The first half of the season may be hard for the New York Yankees thanks to all the injuries. However, if a team is going to have to deal with injuries, it’s better for them to happen earlier on. If the team can tread water and stay within striking distance, they could be in full form by the All-Star break. If Teixeira’s wrist injury is not serious and A-Rod regains his hitting stroke when he returns to the lineup (and yes, I know those are both big ifs), the New York Yankees will be as dangerous as ever.
I originally said I didn’t see the American League Wild Card coming from the East, but I’m changing my mind. The New York Yankees will return from the dead in the second half of the season, capture the wild card and make the playoffs yet again, much to the dismay of Yankees haters and ESPN pundits everywhere.