Projecting Yankees Opening Day Roster
With Blizzard Nemo coming down on us it seems like baseball is a million years away. However, that is not the case, as pitchers and catchers for the Yankees will report to Tampa on Tuesday. There will be more competition for roster spots this year than there normally are, which should make Spring Training more interesting. Here is my projection for the Yankees Opening Day Roster:
I have been screaming about this position all offseason, but unfortunately this is what we are stuck with. If it was my decision I would give Romine a chance over Cervelli because I would rather see what the unknown is rather than see the known bad player. Don’t let Cervelli’s .271 career batting average fool you. It is an incredibly empty .271 and represents why batting average is just not a very useful stat anymore. Cervelli’s career OPS is an egregious .692 and I don’t think with regular AB’s Cervelli would hit close to .271 anyways. Also, Cervelli is terrible behind the plate, so I really don’t know what the Yankees see in him. I actually don’t mind Stewart as the backup, as his defense is pretty good.
The infield remains intact from last year except for Kevin Youkilis replacing Alex Rodriguez. I really expect that to be pretty much a wash. On a terrible year for him Youkilis’s OPS was only eight points lower than Rodriguez’s last season. Youkilis has already been working with Kevin Long on changing his stance and I look for him to have a bounce back season. Nobody knows quite what to expect from Jeter coming off a broken ankle. It is doubtful that he will lead the AL in hits again, but hopefully he can hit around .300 again. Cano is in his walk year, so you can expect him to put up his normal MVP type numbers. The Yankees will need Teixeira to be the elite player he used to be to make up for some lost offensive production on the team. Nunez will likely resume his role as the utility man again and he should be the DH against lefties. I gave Nix the last roster spot because of his versatility. Dan Johnson could make it over him because the Yankees don’t really have a backup first baseman, but Youkilis could always play over there if necessary.
DH: Travis Hafner
Hafner will be the DH against righties. Hafner’s line last year was .228/.346/.438/.784 and he hit 12 home runs and 34 RBI. The short left field porch should be inviting for Hafner and the Yankees hope he can replace the production Raul Ibanez gave them last year.
I still don’t understand givng Ichiro a two-year contract and having an all lefty outdield, but there is nothing that can be done about that now. Gardner is one of the most important players on the team this year, as the Yankees will need him to be consistent on offense. Despite his postseason struggles, Nick Swisher will be sorely missed and Ichiro will not be able to replace his productivity. What Ichiro has to do is hit like he did for the Yankees after the trade (.322/.340/.454/.794) and create havoc on the bases with Gardner. Granderson will need to get back to his 2011 form after his down season. Despite another 40 homerun season Granderson was dreadful in the second half of the season (.212/.278/.480/.767)/ I think Diaz will win the last outfield spot over Juan Rivera, as he has a career .863 OPS vs. lefties. One thing this group has going for them is that their defense as a whole should be outstanding.
Not too much drama here, as the first four are locks and form a very solid starting rotation. There are age issues with Kuroda and Pettitte, but if they are healthy they should be just fine. I was very bullish on Kuroda last year and I see no reason why he can’t repeat his success this season. If you have seen pictures of Sabathia lately you probably noticed that he has lost a ton of weight this offseason. It will be interesting to see what effect that has on him this season. Hughes is in a contract year and he can cash in next offseason if he has a solid year. I think Nova will win the fifth spot, as he has more potential than David Phelps, and Phelps has had experience in the bullpen.
This group is probably the strongest on the team, especially if Chamberlain and Aardsma pitch to their potential. Chamberlain was outstanding in September after struggling to find his command after returning in August. He had a 2.03 ERA in September and a .90 WHIP. Rivera’s health and productivity will be the key because if he is injured of ineffective than the pen is much less deep. Rapada and Logan are two solid lefties, as Rapada is a LOOGY only, and Logan can pitch to a lefty or righty. Robertson should be one of the best setup guys in MLB again.