Wednesday, March 28, 2012

New York Yankees Preview/Prediction

With the Mariners beating Oakland yesterday we are off to a strong 1-0 start here at the baseball pickem'.  Still have 2,429 games to go so let's keep going with these team predictions.

Our next post takes us across town to the Bronx, where the Yankees did not make their usual splash in free agency.  The biggest acquisition this year for the team was via trade, and we will see if that is good enough to get them back to the World Series.

Infield:  Russell Martin at catcher, Mark Teixeira at first base, Robinson Cano at second base, Derek Jeter at shortstop, and Alex Rodriguez at third base.

Russell Martin is the one player in this infield who hasn't been a Most Valuable Player candidate at some point in his career.  He only hit .237 last year and there are two hot shot prospects ready to come up.  That is another reason why the Yankees were okay with trading Jesus Montero.  That and the fact they don't think he is a catcher.  Teixiera lost 15 pounds this off season so he won't wear down in the 2nd half of the season.  This is kind of ironic to me, because Teixeira has struggled in April and gotten better has the season has gone on.  Robinson Cano is one of my favorite players to watch.  He is a middle infielder with a sweet left handed swing, and he will have another MVP type season this year.  I'm thinking .310 with 30 home runs and 100  Runs Batted In.  Those will be right around his career averages, as he is one of the top 5 hitters in baseball now.  Jeter played in fewer than 150 games last year for the first time since 2003.  This was also the first time in his career he has played a full season and not double digits in home runs.  Three years ago I thought he had an outside shot at 4000 hits, and now I don't think there is anyway.  I think his days of hitting over .330 are behind him as well.  He is now an average shortstop, but because of his name will still make the All-Star team.  Alex Rodriguez didn't play 100 games last year and didn't hit more than 30 for the first time since 1996.  The fact that he is owed $27 million for another seven years is comical to me.  There is no way he lives up to that.

Who will have the best season of these guys? Despite playing with two hall of famers and a great first baseman, Robinson Cano will once again have the best season of these five. In addition to what I stated above, he will also steal 25 bases and score 100 runs.  .310 average 30 home runs, 25 stolen bases, 100 Runs Batted In, 100 runs scored and great defense at second base.  Sign me up!

Outfield: Brett Gardner in left field, Curtis Granderson in center field, and Nick Swisher in right field.

Brett Gardner has stolen 47 and 49 bases in the last two years.  If the guy gets on base he can turn a single into a double no problem.  He can flat out fly.  He only hit .260 last year though, and a true lead-off hitter needs a better average.  That is also the reason why he didn't get to 100 runs scored.  Granderson went from hitting .247 with 26 home runs to .260 with 41 home runs in his two years with the Yankees. I don't think he makes the jump again this year, and I don't think he hits 40 home runs this year, but he doesn't need to in this lineup.  He needs to get on base, run and score runs.  We know the power will be there, but he needs to put it all together.  Nick Swisher has played exactly 150 games each of the last three years for the Yankees. He always has a similar on base percentage, because if his batting average is low, he takes more walks.  The less walks he takes the higher the average.  It is actually rather interesting.

Who will have the best season of these guys? Curtis Granderson will have the best year.  I think he will still hit 30 home runs because that stadium is ridiculously small, and his average will be right around .270.  The average will be similar for all three, but it is the power Granderson brings to the table that separates him.

Starting Pitching:  C.C Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, and Phil Hughes.

C.C Sabathia has a realistic chance to win 300 games in his career.  He has never won fewer than 11 games in 11 seasons, and has never had fewer than 139 strike outs.  The numbers he is putting up is making him a hall of fame candidate.  He has been as reliable as any pitcher in the league the last 5 years, and that will continue this year.  Hiroki Kuroda came over from the Dodgers last year and was a huge pick up for the Yankees.  The reason why he was a big pick up is because he is a ground ball pitcher.  In that stadium, the more ground ball pitchers you have the better.  Kuroda will enjoy winning double digit games this year.  Good pick up for the Yankees.  Ivan Nova somehow won 17 games last year.  Only on the Yankees would Ivan Nova win 17 games.  There is a reason why a 17 game winner didn't win the Rookie of the Year award, and it was because that was the least impressive 17-6 pitcher I have ever seen.  I see a huge backslide this year for Nova, maybe to 12 wins and an ERA over 4.  Still not terrible numbers, but not as good as 2011.  As for Mr. Pineda, Brian Cashman thought he was good enough to trade Jesus Montero.  Cashman said after that Montero is "The best player I have ever traded".  While we will see if that holds true it is not hard to see why the Yankees made this deal.  Pineda had a very good rookie year for the Mariners, although he did run out of gas in the second half.  I think Pineda will win double digit games because of the team he is on.  I also think he will have a worse ERA, give up more home runs, and not look as good because of the team he is on.  Pitching in that stadium with that old defense behind him will not do Pineda any favors.  It will be interesting to see who wins this trade.  Phil Hughes is trying to keep a spot in the rotation after basically having a dead arm at the beginning of 2011.  In 2010 he went 18-8, and I think that was an anomaly.  I think that this year he will win 9-12 games and still have an ERA over 4.  Not terrible numbers for a #5 pitcher but not good for a Yankee #5 pitcher.  They have much higher standards.  

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Mr. Consistency himself C.C Sabathia.  It is becoming routine how he will do.  230 innings pitched, 20 wins, 220 strike outs.  You can write that in black ink.  The monotony of the greatness that is C.C Sabathia will continue this year.

Bullpen:  Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Rafael Soriano, and Boone Logan.

Let's get one thing straight here. Mariano Rivera has been pitching since World War II, and not one thing that someone says will convince me otherwise.  He has also been dominant on one pitch which is absolutely astounding.  Every hitter knows that the cutter is coming, and yet all they can do is break their bat as they watch the ball roll harmlessly to Cano at second base.  The man is an absolute marvel and will continue to pitch the way he has for the last 50 years (Okay last 15 years but humor me here).  Last year David Robertson struck out 100 hitters in 66 innings and had an ERA of 1.08.  And he wasn't even the best reliever on his team.  This year his job will be the same. Get through the 8th inning and get to Rivera.  With these two last year if you didn't have a lead after seven innings against the Yankees you were screwed.  That will not change this year.  Soriano only pitched 39 innings last year, and with the emergence of Robertson is no longer in line for the closer role should the machine need to get his oil changed or something.  I just wonder which is more humiliating for him.  Being relegated to 7th inning duty or once being traded for Horacio Ramirez.  That is a tough call.  Boone Logan is the left handed specialist for the Yankees, although they don't really need one because Rivera just dive bombs lefties with his cutter and Robertson blows a fastball by everyone.  That is why he only appeared in 43 games last year.  Don't expect too many more this year.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Mariano Rivera is the greatest reliever of all time, and who am I to pick against him here.  Aside from one year his ERA hasn't been above 2 since 2003.  I think that stays true this year.  He also will continue to rack up the saves and put even more distance between him and Trevor Hoffman.

Record: 102-60, first in the American League East

Next up:  Oakland Athletics

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