All this off season, I have found myself, every day, expecting to hear the news that Brian Cashman once again surprised us with an out-of-the blue trade that would help bolster the chance of success for my beloved Yankees. Amidst all the talk of fiscal restraint and spending limits is that underlying feeling that surely a move will be made after having lost so much production with the departures of Nick Swisher, Raul Ibanez, and Russell Martin. There were the rumors about Justin Upton, Michael Morse, and other possible signings, as there always are, but the Yankees have not shown a whole lot of interest in any of those. And as each day passes and the season inches near, I'm beginning to think the team we have now is the team we are going to field when the season begins.
Many here, some more than others and to some extent even I, have lamented about the roster as it is currently constituted, expecting something better from the (This is the friggin') Yankees. But is it really that bad? I don't think so.
The Infield. Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, and Kevin Youkilis. The Yankee Optimist in me says this is a formidable offensive infield. We all know of that which Teixeira is capable and he should give us more than what we got last season, if he can remain healthy. Cano will keep on Bobbin' along. Although a potential question mark, I have full confidence in the Opening Day return of Derek Jeter. Will he be as productive as last season? Probably not, although I wouldn't put it past him. Anything close to his 2011 numbers would be deemed successful. Youkilis at third base is the biggest question mark, both offensively and defensively. The Yankees got 27 home runs out of the position in 2012. I don't expect Youk to hit more than a dozen homers in perhaps three quarters of a season at third, but his overall production shouldn't be a huge drop-off from what we got there last season. The pessimist in me feels we'll be lucky to get a healthy Mark Teixeira for a full season, Derek Jeter may have a big fall-off, and Kevin Youkilis will just be one ugly mug. One of these we can be sure of...
The Outfield. Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, and Ichiro Suzuki. I'm not really optimistic about much when it comes to the outfield, but there are possibilities. We really have no idea what we'll get from Gardner. We know what he can do, get on base to the tune of a .355 OBP and steal a few bases. But coming off a lost season to injury and playing in his age 29 season, I'd say we will just get more of the same; a light hitting corner outfielder with speed. Granderson's production this season may be key to the Yankees' success. Although he hit fourteen home runs against them last season, hopefully he will learn how to hit left-handed pitching more consistently in what will probably be his Swan Song with the Yankees. An improvement against righties would be nice, too. A repeat of 2011 would be really nice, and in a contract season, it can happen. Ichiro. Hmm. Not sure what to say here. He's kind of like Jeter in a sense that I wouldn't put it past him to play as he did as a Yankee last season,but we could get the aging veteran he was as a Mariner. I think we'll get something in between, which wouldn't be too bad if it was not for the fact that he's replacing the lost production of Nick Swisher, which he won't.
The Pitching. The Yankees are basically going into the season with the same staff as last season, with a few minor changes to the overall staff. I think it's going to be our strength. It better be.
The Approach. The Yankees seem hell-bent on getting the payroll below the $189 million cap. I truly believe this team can be competitive and have a good shot at the post season in 2013. But if the team falters, is it really a bad thing? Many of us, including myself, want us to get younger and let our prospects get their chance to play when they're ready. It may take a year or two of pain, but in the long term it may be just what this team needs. A poor showing may allow this to happen sooner rather than later, at least with a cup of coffee to get their feet wet in September, if not sooner. I have (dry) dreams of the prospect of having an outfield with Williams and Austin in 2014. And with three first round draft picks this year, more potential stars could be on the horizon.
If the Yankees weren't going to make a big splash this off season, I mean a really big splash like trading for someone like Giancarlo Stanton, I'd rather they not do anything at all and go into the season with the major league team as currently constituted and the minor league system intact.