NOTE: The team write-ups are based on my preparation for my fantasy season rather than trying to breakdown teams or focus on actual MLB. The main fantasy format I play is Scoresheet baseball, which is a simulation service, so skills are more important that counting numbers for me. But, a good player is a good player so the info should translate well to any format, and you should get a decent idea about the team based on the write-ups. I hope you enjoy!
NEW YORK YANKEES
TARGETS: Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran (single-season), Masahiro Tanaka, Hiroki Kuroda, CC Sabathia (if velocity returns this spring)
MID-RANGE: Alfonso Soriano, Mark Teixeira, Ivan Nova, David Robertson
END GAME: Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner, Michael Pineda (sleeper), Manny Banuelos (sleeper)
Until Derek Jeter’s recent announcement that this will be his last season, the most notable events for the Yankees infield are players who will not be in the lineup. Robinson Cano left via free agency, and Alex Rodriguez lost his appeal and is suspended for the entire season over his ties to Biogenesis. There’s still some talent here, though, and it starts with new free agent signee C Brian McCann. He’s 30 now and has a ton of wear and tear, but he’s been one of the best offensive C in the game his entire career. He should benefit from resting at DH more often and the short porch in RF in Yankee Stadium being a LH hitter. Mark Teixeira has had a rough time since signing his monster contract with the Bronx Bombers. He traded in his balanced approach to try to hit bombs at first and now has been injury plagues since the last couple of months of 2012. The wrist injury from last year does not bode well for the power returning. He’s no longer one of the better 1B options. Back to Jeter, it will be his last season. I really hope he is able to stay healthy and put up a somewhat vintage season. It would be a fitting way for the Hall of Fame Captain to go out…and he’ll be valuable in the re-draft leagues. The final two spots in the infield will most likely be disasters unless they make a trade. Currently they are looking at the concussion ravaged Brian Roberts and the contact deficient and slump prone Kelly Johnson for 2B and 3B respectively. You can forget those names for draft day.
Free agency is the name of the game in the Yanks OF. CF Jacoby Ellsbury was lured from arch rival Boston with $153M, and he brings solid defense, OBA, and Elite speed to the table. He still has that crazy power explosion from 2011 that keeps fantasy owners dreaming, but that was clearly an outlier compared to every season of his entire career, including the minors. Pay for the d-range and speed, anything else is a bonus. The Yankees seemed like the perfect fit for Carlos Beltran the first time I looked at the free agent list this offseason. He’s played in the Big Apple before so he can handle the media, he’s always had more power from the left side, which is great for the short porch, and he can do some DH-ing on the side to preserve his health. He should be great option for a single-season league. Alfonso Soriano will play mostly DH, but he’ll likely play in the field some when Beltran is at DH. He has experienced a power resurgence cranking over 30 HR each of the last two seasons. The reality is that the raw power was always there, he’s just had a better HR/FB rate in the last two seasons. The good news is that despite his age and the fact that he’s a one-trick pony, there is not sing of the power slowing down. Brett Gardner is actually a pretty nice player. His offense plays better in CF with his lack of power, but he has good speed and will have CF d-range in Scoresheet this year. You could do a lot worse.
This is going to be the strength of the squad without a doubt. CC Sabathia struggled with his velocity due to shoulder soreness last season putting his status as an Ace in jeopardy, but he’s still the #1 in the Bronx for now. He showed up 30 pounds lighter in camp this year and says he feels as good as ever, which is very noisy and not very reliable. CC has a ton of innings on his formidable left arm, so he might just not have it anymore. Pay close attention to reports about his velocity this spring. If he’s in the 90-91 range, place his value on last year. The big free agent splash was the signing of Masahiro Tanaka from the Nippon Professional Baseball league. Signed for $155M plus the $20M posting cost, the Yanks are betting on Tanaka to be more Darvish than Dice-K. Tanaka is coming off a legendary season in which he went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 212 innings. There’s always an adjustment factor with Japanese pitchers moving from the 6-man rotation and pitching once per week to the American 5-man rotation, and the NBP is closer to the American AAA in talent level than MLB. I’m cautiously optimistic that he’ll be an impact player, but certainly don’t expect him to perform in MLB like he did last year in Japan. Tanaka’s countryman Kiroki Kuroda signed his third straight one-year contract to remain in pinstripes. He was on his way to a career year in 2013 until the wheels came off the last two months. That certainly appears to be a red flag, especially given that he’ll be 39 this season, but the numbers sure look like it was driven by luck factors such as BABIP and strand rate more than skill. Ivan Nova has a very attractive skill set with a great GB tendency and decent dominance and command. He’s also improved each season in the majors, which is an excellent sign. The 5th spot is going to either be Michael Pineda or David Phelps. Pineda has been out for two seasons, but he still carries a high ceiling. Phelps is just a guy and not worth your time.
With all of the money the Yanks threw around this offseason, it’s a little surprising they didn’t try to sign an established closer to replace future Hall of Famer and greatest reliever of all time Mariano Rivera. They didn’t though, so the primary setup man from the last three years David Robertson will step into the limelight. Robertson most definitely has the skill set to close, but I find it telling that when Rivera was out in 2012, they went to Rafael Soriano for saves instead. As long as he doesn’t implode under the pressure, he should still be a great Scoresheet RP. Manny Banuelos is a former top prospect who has been a starter his entire minor league career but was probably always destined as the tale of the tape reveals 5’10” 155 lbs. He has missed a ton of bats so he may end up being very successful in short bursts, and transitioning from starting he should have the arsenal to be more than just a lefty specialist. Nobody else is really worth bothering with in this pen, which is another surprise with all the money they spent because this could really be an Achilles heel sabotaging the cash they did spend.
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