New York Yankees
Home Ballpark: Yankee Stadium
2014 Finish: 84 – 78 · 2nd AL East
Over/Under Wins in 2015: 80 · Over
What We Love:
- Bulletproof Bullpen: For the second time in as many years, the Yankees will be turning the ball over in the 9th inning to a new face. With Mariano Rivera retiring two seasons ago and David Robertson now closing games for the Chi Sox, the Yankees may be imploring a closer by committee for the upcoming season. Usually teams who lack a definitive closer turn to a closer by committee in the hopes of finding one reliable arm to whom they can trust. This is not the case with the Yankees. The back end of the Yankees bullpen is (perhaps) their biggest area of strength heading into the season. The imposing 6’8, 260lb, figure that is Dellin Betances, was an absolute revelation in relief for the Yankees in 2014. The former starting pitching prospect used a wicked combination of a 96+ fastball, and an absolutely devastating knuckle curveball, to strikeout 135 batters in 70 appearances; spread out over 90 innings of work. In addition to Betances and his filthy arsenal, the Yankees brought in left handed specialist, Andrew Miller, on a 4 year deal. Miller, another former starter, looks to have found his niche as a premier set up man and was one of the highly sought after relief pitchers available in the offseason. Miller, who split time between Boston and Baltimore in 2014, pitched in 73 contests and struck out 103 batters over 62.1 innings. As of right now, instead of handing the ball to just one guy to close the door in the 9th, it looks like Joe Girardi has the luxury of being able to turn to either one of Miller or Betances; depending on who is standing in the batter’s box. The Yankees ‘pen is rounded out by Adam Warren, David Carpenter, Justin Wilson, Chasen Shreve and long man/spot starter, Esmil Rogers.
- Nathan Eovaldi’s fastball – 4th highest average speed in 2014 at 95.5 mph.
- Didi Gregorious’ glove.
- This “Sandlot” spoof: http://m.mlb.com/video/v53162883/yankees-recreate-scene-from-the-sandlot/?c_id=mlb
- The movement on Masahiro Tanaka’s filthy split-fingered fastball.
- Brett Gardener’s blue collared work ethic in LF.
- No more Yankee farewell tours for the time being…
What We Hate:
- Paper Mache Durability Concerns: Tanaka’s UCL, C.C’s knees, Pineda’s shoulder, Tex’s wrist, Beltran’s elbow… and these are just a few of the injury highlights that plagued the Yankees in 2014. Do we seriously believe that none of these will flare up/worsen in 2015? What about Jacoby Ellsbury? For someone whose durability was a concern heading into 2014, he managed to play in the most games (149) since 2011. Still, this is a guy who has had chronic rib and shoulder injuries throughout his career, and his aggressive style of play leaves him one slide or diving catch away from re-aggravating those injuries. What are the odds he plays in 130+ games this season? We still haven’t mentioned Chase Headley’s knees or even the return of the near 40 year old A-Rod. Can we expect full seasons from them? These are merely speculations but it is hard not to factor in injury/health concerns, especially on an aging roster, when it comes down to predicting where teams will finish come October. Speculations aside, I strongly believe that if any team is susceptible to breaking down from wear and tear over the course of a 162 game season, the Yankees have to be at, or near the top of that list.
- The Return of a Villain: If last season was about writing the final chapter in the Derek Jeter fairytale, than this season will be about writing the next column in the tabloid magazine that has become Alex Rodriguez’s career. Lost in the shuffle that was the never ending farewell tour that marked Derek Jeter’s last season, was the blessing in disguise that was Alex Rodriguez’s season long suspension. That will not be the case this year. There is no feel good story, final farewell or well deserved suspension to keep A-Rod off the field and out of the headlines this season. To simply put it: Alex Rodriguez is a heel; he is the kind of guy that (almost) EVERYONE roots against. Hell, even his own team can’t stand him. He has been the best villain in baseball since Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds hung up their needles… err… I mean cleats. Kind of sad to see a guy who was on the path to being one of the all time greats, slowly fading toward the Jose Canseco realm of clown shoes.
- Not hearing the (recorded) voice of Bob Sheppard say, “At shortstop, number two. Derek Jeter, number two.” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKpK0Ao0A6Y
- Having what might be the oldest roster and being compared to the current Phillies.
- Rotating 1B/DH duties between Tex, A-Rod, Beltran and Garrett Jones.
- Thinking that Carlos Beltran is still an everyday OF
- Having to hear “SEE YA” and “AN A-BOMB FROM A-ROD” during Yankees telecasts.
- Didi Gregorious’ bat.
- Watching the Yankees make the playoffs with this roster…. (God, I hope not.)
Player to Watch: SP Nathan Eovaldi. The former Marlins starter was acquired by the Yankees, along with Garrett Jones, in exchange for Martin Prado and David Phelps, this past offseason. Although his overall numbers don’t jump off the page (6-14 · 4.37 ERA · 1.33 WHIP), what does jump off the page is his 95.5mph average fastball; good for 4th overall in the MLB in 2014. Wins, losses and earned runs aside, Eovaldi did make 33 starts for the Marlins, where he managed to strikeout 142 batters over 199.2 innings. What Eovaldi really brings to the Yankees is depth for their rotation and they will need it considering the past injury history of Tanaka, Sabathia and Pineda; as well as the aging of Chris Capuano.
Top Pitching Prospect: Luis Severino · RHP · MLB ETA: 2016
Top Positional Prospect: Aaron Judge · OF · MLB ETA: 2016
Top 30 Prospects (MLB.com): http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=nyy
Final Prediction: 4th AL East