Sep. 23, 2016
New York Yankees Preview
With the first team in the American League East, I will be doing the New York Yankees, who despite a bunch of trades intended for acquiring prospects have actually remained competitive. And that is also without them spending a lot of time throwing hundreds of millions of dollars into free agency. I feel like the Yankees currently have some sort of super team plan and are just biding time until players like Josh Donaldson, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado become free agents, but for now they are a team battling for the toughest division in baseball.
PROJECTED ROTATION: Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, Luis Severino, Adam Warren
This is an interesting group who really does not have a ton of depth, and is very injury prone. That being said, the upside of Tanaka, Pineda and Severino along with the somewhat bounce back year CC Sabathia had makes this group a solid one. Don't get me wrong, they are not among the best rotations in the American League, but they are definitely capable of getting the job done. Adam Warren is the fifth starter pretty easily, but he has Chad Green, Bryan Mitchell and Luis Cessa all chasing the spot down from him. The prospects haven't caught up to the big league level yet like the hitters have, but there are a couple that are a year or two away.
BULLPEN: Aroldis Champan (CL), Dellin Betances, Tyler Clippard, Richard Bleier, Tommy Layne, Johnny Barbato, Chasen Shreve
What a stroke of ingenuity by Brian Cashman with the Aroldis Champan trade then re-signing, and he was able to bring back one of the game's most dominant closers to an already solid back end of the bullpen. Dellin Betances is once again going to be among the game's best setup men, and Tyler Clippard is a solid seventh inning guy. The rest of the bullpen has questions and could go in a lot of different directions, but Bleier, Layne, Barbato and Shreve were the four best from last season of the large group. They also have Dietrich Enns, Yefrey Ramirez, Ben Heller, Jonathan Holder and Domingo German competing along with the guys who won't earn rotation spots.
CATCHERS: Gary Sanchez, Austin Romine
The Yankees are set at catcher for the next six years, hopefully, as Gary Sanchez really broke out of nowhere after being called up in the summer. It caused a pretty good catcher in Brian McCann to lose his full time starting gig and eventually get run out of town to Houston to make way for this kid. 20 home runs in 200 at bats, and I can't imagine anybody else who go to 20 faster. Austin Romine is a decent backup, but he won't see a ton of time with Sanchez there.
INFIELDERS: Starlin Castro, Didi Gregorius, Chase Headley, Greg Bird, Rob Refsnyder, Tyler Austin
The position player depth is a bit tricky here in the Bronx, as there are a whole bunch of big league and Triple-A "tweeners" such as Tyler Austin and Ronald Torreyes, and it makes it difficult to figure out who exactly will make the roster. Greg Bird showed promise in 2015, so he will be at first, and the rest of the infield is set with Castro, Gregorius and Headley, but after that it could be a number of guys. I'm favoring a power bat in Austin and a utility man in Refsnyder getting the spots with Torreyes starting in the minors. Keep an eye on prospects Miguel Andujar and Jorge Mateo along with non-roster invitees Ruben Tejada and Ji-Man Choi.
OUTFIELDERS: Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge, Matt Holliday, Aaron Hicks
Outfield is a bit easier, as the trio of Ellsbury, Gardner and Judge is essentially set in stone (despite bad seasons from the former two). Matt Holliday was an unusual pickup, and he is expected to have a Carlos Beltran role. Aaron Hicks gets in due to experience and being able to play all three positions, and the only real competition for him is Mason Williams and Ronald Torreyes.
LINEUP: Ellsbury (CF), Gregorius (SS), Sanchez (C), Holliday (DH), Judge (RF), Castro (2B), Bird (1B), Headley (3B), Gardner (LF)
This lineup can go a bunch of different ways, but one of the things it lacks most is speed. Ellsbury, Gregorius and I guess Gardner are fast, but the middle of that order doesn't lack a ton of speed. This ball club will be more than capable of hitting a ton of home runs though, especially in Yankee Stadium.
PREDICTION: This team would look a lot better if, say, it were in the AL Central or NL East, but it's in the AL East which is the toughest in baseball. At this point I have the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Orioles better than the Yankees, and never count out the Rays either. Still, this Yankees' team has a lot of young talent and some solid veteran talent to go along with it, and playoffs are definitely not out of the question. It's just a matter of if the rest of the division struggles. I think the Yankees get around 83 wins and a near playoff berth.