The New York Yankees came within two games of making it to their second World Series in as many years, but in typical Yankee fashion, it was considered a colossal disappointment. After quickly dispatching the Twins in what seems like a post season tradition, the Yankees’ yearlong starting pitching woes caught up to them against the hot hitting Rangers.
Of course, as the Yankees’ oft maligned spending habits would suggest, they immediately went out and… wait, they did nothing? And by ‘nothing’ I’m referring to Mark Prior, Bartolo Colon, and Freddy Garcia. I guess that was the best they could do after Cliff Lee shockingly decided he didn’t want his wife verbally abused 81 times a year by Yankee fans.
For the 2011 outlook, the Yankees offense seems as imposing as ever, but their pitching remains a huge question mark. With Boston bulking their roster up in the offseason, the Yankees may find themselves fighting for a Wild Card spot yet again if they can’t find themselves another starter.
In “30 Teams in 30 Days,” the Fantasy Baseball Cafe will preview each team in Major League Baseball on a daily basis. In addition to projecting starting lineups, rotations and closing situations, the Cafe will identify potential targets for 2011 fantasy baseball drafts.
|C Russell Martin||.248||.347||.332||45||5||26||6||331||w/LAD|
|1B Mark Teixeira||.256||.365||.481||113||33||108||0||601|
|2B Robinson Cano||.319||.381||.534||103||29||109||3||626|
|SS Derek Jeter||.270||.340||.370||111||10||67||18||663|
|3B Alex Rodriguez||.270||.341||.506||74||30||125||4||522|
|LF Brett Gardner||.277||.383||.379||97||5||47||47||477|
|CF Curtis Granderson||.247||.324||.468||76||24||67||12||466|
|RF Nick Swisher||.288||.359||.511||91||29||89||1||566|
|DH Jorge Posada||.248||.357||.454||49||18||57||3||383|
Unsettled: Nothing at all. This is perhaps one of the most locked in lineups in all of baseball. There will be some day to day reshuffling to give guys days off here and there, but for the most part, barring injury, this is the lineup you will see come September.
Of course, there is one guy who could change things, and he’s currently chomping at the bit down in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre: Jesus Montero. If he can continue to mash for average and power, and the Yankees suffer any setbacks (via health or ineffectiveness), he could be a midseason call up and steal at-bats. The most likely candidates to be hurt by this would be Russell Martin and/or Jorge Posada.
Target: While most of the hitters in New York’s lineup will (rightfully) cost you an arm and a leg come draft day, there’s one guy that has shown to be quite a bargain despite the inflation rate that wearing pinstripes usually entails: Brett Gardner. Gardner has blistering speed and scored almost 100 runs last year while getting most of his sure-to-increase 477 at bats at the bottom of the order. His OBP and stolen base potential makes him a very attractive target to hit atop the lineup. If this happens, he could be in for a monster season. If not, a line of 100 runs and a .280 average to go along with at least 50 steals is reasonable to expect. These are Ellsburian numbers that you can acquire on average five rounds later than Gardner’s Boston counterpart.
|CC Sabathia (L)||21-7||3.18||1.19||197||74||237.2|
|Phil Hughes (R)||18-8||4.19||1.25||146||58||176.1|
|A.J. Burnett (R)||10-15||5.26||1.51||145||78||186.2|
|Ivan Nova (R)||1-2||4.50||1.45||26||17||42.0|
|Sergio Mitre (R)||0-3||3.33||1.09||29||16||54.0|
Unsettled: Anyone besides Sabathia and Hughes. Missing out on Cliff Lee, then losing Andy Pettitte to retirement has left this rotation in very rough shape going into 2011. As was mentioned earlier, the Yankees have seemed to go with the old ‘throw a bunch of, um, stuff, against the wall and see what sticks’ strategy this offseason. I would be shocked if any of Prior, Colon, or Garcia has any fantasy relevance this year. WHIP killer A.J. Burnett has continued his slide to irrelevance and would most likely be riding pine if not for his contract and dearth of pitching talent on the roster.
Target: CC Sabathia. While the rest of the Yankee rotation is comprised of upside guys at best and complete disasters at worst, Mr. Sabathia remains the true definition of a staff anchor. Oddly enough, there’s been a bit of talk this offseason about the mileage he’s put on his arm as he’s averaged over 230 innings pitched over the past four seasons. Perhaps that’s the reason his MDP has sagged into almost the fifth round of drafts.
However, when you consider how much of a monster this guy is, that’s comparable to a normal-sized pitcher throwing 230 innings with a golf ball. I guess what I’m saying is, there’s no reason to scream that the sky is falling unless there’s actual evidence of it. Throw in the fact that Sabathia is perhaps the surest bet in baseball to win 20 games, and the late fourth round seems like a possible slight bargain for the big man.
The 8th and 9th Innings
|Mariano Rivera (R)||33||1.80||0.83||45||11||60.0|
|Rafael Soriano (R)||45||1.73||0.80||57||14||62.1|
Chasing Saves: Perhaps it was because they noticed how weak their rotation was, or maybe it was because they just needed to spend money in the offseason, but the Yankees threw 35 million dollars at Rafael Soriano to setup for The Man this season. All this did was give New York the best setup/closer combo in baseball.
Yes, Soriano actually bested Rivera in most categories last season, but make no mistake, the closer job is Mariano Rivera’s until he decides to hang up his cleats. While there’s a chance that the greatest closer in the history of the game hits the 600 save milestone this season, he may have to wait until early 2012 to do so as he’s still 41 away. Continue to draft Mo as a top-five closer, and if something were to happen to him (sacrilege!), then Soriano would immediately hold just as much value.
The entire Yankee lineup is expected to be drafted in most leagues, and most will come off the board within the first 10 rounds. Be ready to pay a slight surcharge if you want them however, as their value has been traditionally inflated.
As far as pitching goes, you’re best served avoiding 60% of the current rotation, as Sabathia and Hughes are the only rosterable guys. As was mentioned earlier, Rivera should go within the first 5 closers, and rightfully so. Finally, Soriano is a nice handcuff who should be a nice help for your ratios, if you have the room.
Check back tomorrow for our preview of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Mike Kropman is a transplanted New Yorker currently teaching high school math up in little old Rhode Island. He enjoys P90X, watching Yovani Gallardo pitch, and Super Bowl 42. You can catch up with him in the Cafe under the user name Inukchuk.
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