Anything less than a championship is unacceptable in Yankee-land, and the Bronx Bombers were finally able to overcome nine years of pain and misery to claim their 27th World Championship in 2009. An offense that led the league in almost every major statistical category was perfectly complimented by a solid starting staff and top notch bullpen headed by the ageless wonder Mariano Rivera. As great as the Yanks were last year, there is plenty of reason to believe they’ll be even better this year after adding Curtis Granderson and Javier Vazquez, among others. Expect them to at least win their division, if not cruise to another World Series title.
2009 Stats AVG OBP SLG R HR RBI SB AB Notes C Jorge Posada .285 .363 .522 55 22 81 1 383 1B Mark Teixeira .292 .383 .565 103 39 122 2 609 2B Robinson Cano .320 .352 .520 103 25 85 5 637 SS Derek Jeter .334 .406 .465 107 18 66 30 634 3B Alex Rodriguez .286 .402 .532 78 30 100 14 444 LF Brett Gardner .270 .345 .379 48 3 23 26 248 CF Curtis Granderson .249 .327 .453 91 30 71 20 631 w/DET RF Nick Swisher .249 .371 .498 84 29 82 0 498 DH Nick Johnson .295 .408 .402 47 6 44 2 353 w/WAS
Unsettled: Left Field. Brett Gardner is finally going to get his chance, but despite his defensive ability he will be the weakest link offensively. That being said he is still worth watching as he stole 26 bases last season in only 248 ABs. If he can find a way to get on base, he could be a solid addition to a speed-starved roster. If he happens to struggle, look for recent addition Randy Winn to take over. Winn would be irrelevant fantasy-wise, so let’s hope Gardner keeps the job.
Target: Curtis Granderson. We here at the Cafe are already aware of the possibilities a player like Granderson possesses in New York, evidenced by comparing his current CDP (Cafe Draft Position) of 38 to his overall ADP of 54. He hit 30 homers last year in Detroit, most of which were to right field. You don’t need to be remotely intelligent to conclude that Curtis could easily go 35/25 in Yankee Stadium with the short porch in right. He won’t shine against lefties, but his BABIP was also almost 50 points below his career average, so expect to see improvement upon his .249 average from last year. Take him in the fourth round and reap the benefits from a power hitting leadoff man who fits his new ballpark perfectly.
|C.C. Sabathia (L)||19-8||3.37||1.15||197||67||230.0|
|A.J. Burnett (R)||13-9||4.04||1.40||195||97||207.0|
|Javier Vazquez (R)||15-10||2.87||1.03||238||44||219.1|
Unsettled: Joba Chamberlain. There’s a lot of pressure on Chamberlain to perform this season, especially with Phil Hughes finding a relative comfort zone setting up for Rivera in the 8th. Joe Girardi seems to like Hughes where he is, but he would probably be the first pitcher to get a crack at Joba’s spot if the Hutt continues to disappoint as a starter. Other (albeit remote) possibilities include Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre, who would hurt your fantasy team more than help it.
Target: C.C. Sabathia. In my opinion he’s the only Yankee starter going at fair market value right now. Vazquez has never succeeded in the AL, let alone in a ballpark he’s bound to struggle in. He’s an 11th round pick at best. A.J. Burnett’s awful control is not worth a 10th or 11th round pick when you can make upside plays like Ricky Nolasco and Chad Billingsley instead. Take C.C. if you can, as pitching from the left side eliminates a lot of concerns about the dynamics of the stadium and Sabathia was up to the task last season with Cy Young-level numbers. He is good value from the late third round forward.
The 8th and 9th Innings
|Mariano Rivera (R)||44||1.76||0.90||72||12||66.1|
|Phil Hughes (R)||3||3.03||1.12||96||28||86.0|
Chasing Saves: Rivera is perhaps baseball’s most sure thing. The only sign that he’s getting older is that his birth date hasn’t changed and given his numbers you’d almost think he was sipping out of the Fountain of Youth. Outside of a hiccup pushed by unlucky factors in 2007, Rivera hasn’t posted an ERA above 2 since 2002 and there’s no reason to believe he will struggle this season. I have always pegged Rivera as the top closer in the game and will continue to ride him out until he either sustains an injury or calls it quits.
If by some chance Rivera falters, it’s likely the aforementioned Hughes or the veteran Damaso Marte who would take over. There’s a lot to like about David Robertson’s abilities, but his control (4.62 career BB/9) is not one of them. In short, if Rivera gets hurt the bullpen is easily this team’s greatest weakness and would be full of question marks fantasy-wise.
Every Yankee in the opening day lineup should be fantasy relevant this year. A-Rod and Big Tex are legit first round options who are capable of carrying any fantasy team to a championship. I’m a big believer in Robinson Cano at second and Derek Jeter is much like Rivera in that he doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Jorge Posada had great counting numbers for a player who missed as much time as he did, and is going pretty deep at catcher. Looking for late round value? Nick Swisher had 28 bombs last year and seems to have found a comfort zone in New York. With everyone getting on base in front of him, he could have plenty of opportunities to help your power stats.
All five Yankee starters will be drafted and Chamberlain looks to be the only question mark. Even old man Andy Pettitte will provide value with his usual 13-15 wins and average to above average ratio stats, just be careful not to draft Vazquez or Burnett too early as they could burn you. Rivera has become a legend of Chuck Norris/Matt Wieters proportions and it’s likely you’ll regret passing on him if he’s not the first closer drafted.
Steven Lorenz is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Steven in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of AquaMan2342.
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