March 05, 2012; Clearwater, FL, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda (35) during a spring training game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Bright House Networks Field. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Yes, I hate the Yankees. Don't take it personally, fans. Every sport needs a villain. I know that it's not really New York's fault that they make so much GD money, or that baseball doesn't have a salary cap, but it just sort of makes me sad to such an imbalance in one division. When's it going to end? Are we just supposed to expect the Yankees to go to the playoffs every year until MLB shuts down (or if the Mayans are correct, one more year)?
I guess after 15+ years of the same business, we just have to get used to it. But I couldn't hate on the classic Yankees of yesteryear. This version though? It's a little disheartening to see all those bloated salaries.
Focusing on fantasy though! The Yankees still have a lot of good players! And they actually made no major free agent acquisitions (which positions did they really need upgrades at? Besides adding a starting pitcher, which they added two significant ones.) Hiroki Kuroda and Michael Pineda are here, and so is 39-year-old Raul Ibanez.
Let's talk about those damn Yankees.
Best Hitter: Robinson Cano
I'm going with Cano over Curtis Granderson for several reasons. First: Cano is a career .308 hitter and Granderson is a career .267 hitter. Second: Granderson is coming off a career year, hitting 41 HR after a previous high of 30, while Cano has been improving slightly each and ever year, leading me to believe that he's more capable of at least repeating his .302/.349/.533, 28 HR, 118 RBI, 104 R season. Yes, Granderson will steal more bases and probably score more runs, but I see Cano as the steadier option. Third: 2B for Cano, OF for Granderson.
Mark Teixeira was a career .290 hitter going into 2010. He has hit .252/.353/.487 over his last 1,396 plate appearances. Though his BABIP has been a career low over the last two years as well.
Alex Rodriguez is 36 years old. His contract runs for another six seasons. He has missed significant time in each of the last four seasons. He has seen his OPS drop in four straight seasons. The contract the Yankees gave him was stupid at the time and it's starting to look even more ridiculous as A-Rod develops into a 20 HR hitter.
Best Pitcher: CC Sabathia
Forget about win totals, CC Sabathia is a pitcher of the old school variety, having started 30 games or more in all but one year (when he started 28) and gone over 230 innings in each of the last five seasons. He's not only a workhorse, but he can be flat out dominating, perhaps even overlooked a little bit (how is that possible in New York?!?!) because he's not a huge strikeout guy. However, he'll give you 240 innings of 3.20 ERA ball with near 20 wins and being able to have a LARGE sample size of good baseball is very valuable in fantasy.
New guy Hiroki Kuroda comes over on a one-year deal at age 37, but he's been a stead 3.50 ERA pitcher in his four year career. However, he was an extreme flyball pitcher last year that was saved by nearly 80% of runners being stranded and he moves from the NL to the AL. From the Padres lineup to the Red Sox lineup. I expect something like 14 wins and an ERA of 4.00-4.50.
Michael Pineda was dismissed last year by a lot of fans, as all Mariners prospects usually are. "He doesn't have good secondary offerings" and blah blah blah. He "only" has one of the best fastballs in baseball at age 22, so what? Without a strong third pitch, Pineda struck out 173 batters in 171 innings with a 3.74 ERA and an All-Star appearance. He only allowed 133 hits and walked just 55. He shows amazing control for a fireballer that is so young. If he does develop an outstanding 2nd and 3rd pitch, or even a "Very Good" one, Pineda will be one of the best pitchers in the majors and that's why the Yankees gave up a top 10 prospect to get him.
Early Spring reports about his velocity mean almost nothing to me. Tell me what his velocity is in two weeks. Pineda is going to come close to 190 innings of 3.50 ERA ball with 200 strikeouts and a low amount of walks (about 2.5 per 9) with 17 New York wins.
Potential Breakout: Pineda
Well, it's not like he's a secret, but the Yankees are all pretty well-known or established. This is a chance for Pineda to shine on the big stage and pick up a bunch of wins.
Potential Disappointment: Kuroda
Don't be fooled into thinking that going to the Big Apple is "better" than any other situation. We've seen this with so many pitchers. Even a veteran like Kuroda. Going from the NL to the AL especially can be a bad thing for a pitcher, but going to the Yankees and the AL East is even more extreme.
Mariano Rivera is 42. Is this machine ever going to stop? I guess as long as he can throw the cutter, he's fine.
Is Derek Jeter still ownable in fantasy?
Prospect Watch: Per BA
No more Montero, obviously. I'm not sure where Jose Campos would come in on this list, but he's a significant prospect that was acquired with Pineda. Campos struck out 85 batters in 81.1 low-A innings last year while walking only 13. And at only 18 years old. I imagine that he'd be in the 5-6 range for me.
Banuelos and Betances are both expected to be parts of the future of the rotation, but the upside on Banuelos (who is three years younger) seems significantly better than Betances.
Sanchez could be the top catching prospect in baseball by the end of the year.
The Yankees have a TON of talent in the system, but almost none of it is close to the majors. Betances should be up at some point this year, if not break camp with the team. Romine should be in the majors, but doesn't have significant upside, to me. Banuelos could make an appearance this year, though he's only 21. The rest of the players have an ETA of 2014 or later, and many of them could get traded because Yankees.
Follow me on Twitter
Mason Williams is the #85 prospect in the game per BA. He's only 20 and will only be around A-ball this year, but he's got speed after stealing 28 bases in only 68 games last year.
I'm a DB Jr. fan, but he's a ways away.