clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Know your enemy: New York Yankees

Derek Jeter
Derek Jeter
Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

In 2013 the Yankees were tied for 3rd in the Al East, with a 85-77 record, 11 games better than the Blue Jays. But their Pythagorean record was 79-83, just 2 games better than the Jays. Course, that the Yankees were 14-5 against us explains a lot of why they were 11 games ahead of us. They scored 4.01 runs per game, slightly worse than our 4.40 runs per game. The allowed 4.14 runs per game, half a run better than our 4.67.

They had a far more interesting offseason than we had, adding players Masahiro Tanaka, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson. Losing Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Mariano Rivera and Alex Rodriguez (well, for a year anyway).

Catcher: Brian McCann

McCann had 20 home runs last year, with the Braves, in 102, playing in a home park that's much less homer friendly than Yankees Stadium. Last year's catcher duo, Chris Stewart and Austin Romine had a combined 5 home runs and a combined 0.3 WAR. If he can stay healthy, McCann will be a big improvement.


Two or three years ago the Yankees had the best infield in baseball, now Robinson Cano is with the Mariners, Alex Rodriguez is suspended and Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira are old and are on the DL more than they are in the lineup.

First Base: Mark Teixeira

Teixeira played just 15 games and hit .151/.270/.340. It's anyone's guess how much he'll play this year, but I think it is safe to assume it will be less than 162 games. He's not having the best of springs, just hitting .143/.333/.214 but then it's just been 14 at bats. Last year Lyle Overbay played 130 games at first, and hit .240/.295/.393. If Teixeira is healthy, he'd almost have to hit better than that.

Second Base: Brian Roberts/Brendan Ryan

This offseason the Yankees let Robinson Cano walk away and then signed Brian Roberts. Roberts was a very good player, but, over the last 4 years he has played a total of 192 games. Last year, he played 77 game, the most he's played since 2009. He hit .249/.312/.392, not numbers that will make people forget Cano.

When Roberts is hurt Ryan will be the likely replacement Ryan is a Goins like player, great glove, no bat. He hit .197/.255/.273 last year.

Shortstop: Derek Jeter/Brendan Ryan

Jeter is on his farewell tour, going from city to city collecting presents from each team. At 40, the Yankees hope he plays more than the 17 games he played at age 39. Defensively, you won't be seeing a lot of range, but he'll likely bat better than the average SS. When he needs days off, Ryan will likely be the one to take his place.

Third Base: Kelly Johnson/Eduardo Nunez

It looks like the Yankees play to go with a platoon of Johnson and Nunez at third base. Jays fans have far less than fond memories of Kelly Johnson. Last year Johnson played for the Rays and hit .235/.305/410 in 118 games. Nunez played 90 games for the Yankees, hitting .260/.307/.372.


Left field: Brett Gardner

Gardner doesn't have the power you'd like from a LFer, but he'll play great defense and not hurt the Yankees with the bat. Last year he hit .273/.344/.416 with 24 stolen bases.

Center field: Jacoby Ellsbury

The Yankees are going to be paying Ellsbury $21 million and change for end of the next 7 or 8 years. He's not been the most consistent of hitters, putting up OPS+ numbers of 131, 88, 98, 30, 146, 84 and 114. He does consistently play great defense.

Right Field: Carlos Beltran

Beltran has been a terrific player for that past 16 seasons, but the Yankees are paying him $45 million for his age 37, 38 and 39 seasons. He hit .296/.339/.491 with 24 home runs last year and I'd expect playing half his games in Yankees Stadium will help his numbers. UZR didn't like defense, crediting him with a -18.7 UZR/150 last year.

Ichiro Suzuki will, mostly like be fourth outfielder.

DH: Alfonso Soriano

Soriano had a pretty terrific 2013, hitting .255/.302/.489 with 34 home runs, in 151 games split between the Cubs and Yankees. Alfonso is 38 this year, but he's been very consistent, offensively, over the last 6 years, putting up OPS+ values ranging from 102 to 129. With the rather advanced age of many of his teammates, Alfonso will be playing a fair amount of outfield, to open up DH for the other geriatrics.

Starting Pitching:

CC Sabathia: CC had a bit of an off-year in 2013, putting up a 4.78 ERA over 32 games, so he spent the offseason getting into, what for him passes as, shape. He's having a very good spring, allowing 6 hits, 2 walks with 9 strikeouts, in 12 innings with a 2.70.

Masahiro Tanaka: I don't even what to talk about him. He's allowed 7 hits, 2 walks, 10 k, in 9.1 spring innings.

Hiroki Kuroda: Kuroda was very good, in 2013, with a 3.31 ERA, in 32 starts. He is 39 this year. His spring isn't going as well, 12 hits, 6 earned, 1 walk and 8 k in 8.1 innings.

Ivan Nova: Ivan had a very nice 3.10 ERA, in 20 starts last year. I wouldn't mind a 4th starter that could do that.

Michael Pineda: The Yankees traded for Pineda in January of 2012 and he hasn't pitched an regular season inning for them yet. This might be his year. He's pitched just 4.1 innings this spring, with 4 hits, 1 walk and 9 strikeouts.


David Robertson gets Mariano Rivera's seat in the bullpen. He might not be Mariano, but he's pretty decent. He had a 2.04 ERA last year. I think the bigger problem is that, without Robertson, they don't have great setup men. Shawn Kelley (4.39 ERA last year), Preston Claiborne (4.11), Oscar Cabral (rookie) and Delyn Betances (rookie) will join him in the pen.


I really have a hard time seeing how they could contend. They could have a very good starting rotation, if CC is back to the pitcher he was before last year, Tanaka has the same sort of numbers he had in Japan and Kuroda and Nova do as well as they did last year. Beyond that, they are hoping for comeback seasons from a lot of old guys. Unless they've found the fountain of youth, I think they will be closer to the bottom of the division than the top.