We are going to take a look at each of the Blue Jays AL East opponents. This will be followed by a handful of questions for Steve Goldman, from SB Nation's popular Yankee site Pinstripe Bible.
In 2012, the Yankees came in first in the AL East, winning 95 games. It took them the full 5 games to win their Divisional Series, then they lost out, in pretty humiliating fashion to the Tigers. Derek Jeter broke his ankle. Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and others couldn't hit.
During the season, their offense was terrific, they scored the second most runs in the AL, 4.96 runs per game. They scored about as much on the road 4.91 runs/game, as at home, 5.01. They did hit a lot most home runs at home (no surprise) 138 to 107 but that's balanced some by having fewer doubles and triples at home, 125 to 168.
They were pretty good at preventing runs too, allowing just 4.12 a game. All that added up to a 95-67 record, first in the AL East.
Last year Russell Martin was their catcher (or was he shortstop? I can't keep these things straight.).He wasn't great, had a .211/.311/.403. This year it looks to be some combination of Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli. Stewart is 31, a good glove, poor bat type. He has a career line of .217/.281/302 in 148 major league games. Cervelli is more the good bat (well ok bat), poor glove type of catcher. He has hit .271/.339/.353 in 184 major league games. Journeyman Bobby Wilson is hanging around in case one gets hurt.
Last year the Yankees had the best infield in the division. This year, due to a bunch of injuries, who knows what they'll have.
The sure thing is Robinson Cano, easily the best second baseman in baseball and, with Granderson and Teixeira injured, the only sure power source on the team. Derek Jeter had a terrific 2012 season, leading the league with 216 hits, before breaking his ankle. How much time he'll spend at short and how much of the season he'll DH, is yet to be seen. I can't imagine having a metal plate in his foot will improve his subpar range on the infield.
With Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixiera out of the lineup for who knows how long, the corner infield spots will be covered by some combination of Juan Rivera, Dan Johnson, Kevin Youkilis, Eduardo Nunez and Jayson Nix (the last two will spell Jeter at short as well). Youkilis will likely bounce between first and third base as needed. I can't imagine he'll be great defensively at third, having him and Jeter play the left side of the infield will be fun to watch. I can imagine a lot of singles rolling into the left field.
With Granderson having his arm broken by J.A. Happ pitch, during his first spring plate appearance, the Yankees have been doing a little scrambling to fill out their outfield. The sure spots are Brett Gardner, who missed most of last season with an elbow injury, and Ichiro Suzuki. Ichiro is 39, last year he hit .261 as a Mariner and .322 as a Yankee. I wouldn't like to guess what he'll do things year. The Yankees picked up outfielder Brennan Boesch, off waivers, from the Tigers. Boesch hit .240/.286/.372, with 12 home runs, in 132 games last season. Backing the three left-handed hitters up will be some combination of our old friends Ben Francisco, Juan Rivera and youngster (at least by Yankee terms) Melky Mesa. There will likely be some platooning. It's also likely that Yankees GM Brian Cashman will be watching the waiver wire between now and the start of the season.
Travis Hafner, a lefty, will platoon with whichever old, somewhat injured Yankee who most needs the day off from playing defense. Hafner hit .228/.346/.438 with 12 home runs, in 66 games as an Indian last year.
CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and David Phelps will get most of the starts. The top two are as good as the top two starters on any of the teams in the division. What they will get from the others is anyone's guess.
Mariano Rivera is back to collect saves and chase down fly balls during batting practice, at age 43. David Robertson, Boone Logan, David Aardsma and Joba Chamberlain (unless he has pushed management's patience beyond the breaking point) will have the job of trying to hand leads over to him.
You know, their front line talent is likely as good as any team in the division, if a fair bit older. Their problem is that they aren't very deep, when injuries happen the replacements aren't near as good, as the players they will replace. And the injuries are already piling up. Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira are all out for at least the first month of the season. I wouldn't be surprised if the latter pair miss the whole season. I think their season depends on them keeping the injuries to a minimum. So far that's not happening. As well as the guys that are hurt now, there are a number of players that are fairly fragile. If they can stay healthy, they'll likely keep in contention, but if they end up with any more players on the DL, they could end up closer to the bottom than the top of the division.