StrategyFebruary 12, 2013

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30 Teams in 30 Days: New York Yankees

By R.J. White

The Yankees enter 2013 in make-or-broke mode, refusing to add any long-term contracts to the payroll while hoping to repeat as AL East champions. It won’t be easy: they could be without $275 million man Alex Rodriguez for either half or the entire season. The team employed the oldest set of batters in its history last season (average age: 32.7) and went out to get Kevin Youkilis and Travis Hafner for 2013. The band’s back together, but this may be for the last time, as only four players are under contract for 2014 (Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and Ichiro Suzuki). If the Yankees start slow, could a “for sale” sign be (gasp!) hung around their group of expiring deals? The only thing for certain is that this team’s season will, as always, be very interesting.

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 2013 fantasy baseball drafts.
Offensive Starters

C Francisco Cervelli.246.341.316432396417in AAA
1B Mark Teixeira.251.332.4756624842451 
2B Robinson Cano.313.379.55010533943697 
SS Derek Jeter.316.362.4299915589740 
3B Kevin Youkilis.235.336.4097219600509w/2TM
LF Curtis Granderson.232.319.4921024310610684 
CF Brett Gardner.323.417.387703237 
RF Ichiro Suzuki.203.307.3907795925663w/2TM
DH Travis Hafner.228.346.4382312340263w/CLE

Unsettled: Catcher. With Russell Martin walking away this offseason, the Yankees were in the market to bring in a dependable veteran to play behind the plate. Instead, they did nothing and will have to choose the lesser of two evils between Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart. Neither should be counted a fantasy asset, but Cervelli’s decent numbers in part-time work in 2010 and 2011 should let him win out. The DH role should be filled by Hafner versus righties, but that could be the eventual landing spot of Alex Rodriguez if he makes it back this year.
Target: Robinson Cano. I’d like to be a little bit less obvious here, but to me, the Yankee lineup is riddled with “stay aways,” leaving me point out the obviousness behind Cano’s place in the first round of fantasy drafts. He’s been extremely consistent over the last three years, hitting .311/.370/.539 while averaging 30 home runs, 104 runs, 107 RBI and five steals. Nothing in his skill-set points to a sudden downturn. There may be a bigger gap from him to the second player at his position than there is at any other fantasy position save for relief pitcher.
The Rotation
CC Sabathia (L)15-63.381.1419744200.0 
Hiroki Kuroda (R)16-113.321.1716751219.2 
Andy Pettitte (L)5-42.871.14692175.1 
Phil Hughes (R)16-134.231.2716546191.1 
Ivan Nova (R)12-85.021.4715356170.1 

Unsettled: The Yankees are pretty set in the rotation with the return of Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte. The guy to watch out for is Michael Pineda, who lost all of last year to a shoulder injury. Still recovering from the surgery related to that injury, Pineda is expected to be out till midseason. When he returns, that’ll send someone to the bullpen or to the trade block if the team has good luck with health. The Yankees were reportedly listening to offers for both Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova this offseason. Dellin Betances could be another eventual rotation option if he can rebound from an awful 2012 season this year.
Target: Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda tends to be overlooked in many fantasy leagues. Whether it’s due to his old age upon joining the majors (33 in 2008), his lack of a stateside track record as a youngster to build up hype, or anything else, Kuroda’s performance seldom matches his draft/auction price. Expected to suffer a decline with the terrible move from the NL West and the Dodgers to the AL East and the Yankees, Kuroda instead held his numbers steady. He doesn’t have much strikeout upside, but the 38-year-old righty will bring consistently excellent ratios and a score of wins to your fantasy team.
The 8th and 9th Innings
Mariano Rivera (R)52.160.96828.1 
David Robertson (R)22.671.17811960.2 

Chasing Saves: Mariano Rivera’s season was cut short last year after an ACL tear that occurred while shagging flies in batting practice required surgery. However, Rivera hadn’t encountered any setbacks by mid-February, putting him on track to be ready by opening day and likely going right back into the timeless classic that fantasy owners love. David Robertson struggled in his two days as the team’s regular closer last year, blowing exactly 50 percent of his saves. He should fare much better this season should the team need him to step in.
Final Thoughts
The Yankees should be as competitive as they always are thanks to a quality rotation and a superstar in the middle of the lineup. Other players in the Yankees lineup may go higher than expected in drafts despite many of them coming off a disappointing season and/or being relatively older players that could be in for age-related drop-off, although you shouldn’t expect it from their probably-not-actually-human closer or pseudo-ace Kuroda. The intrigue in New York will likely have to wait till the offseason, when the team figures out who to keep and add while staying under the luxury tax threshold.
Check back tomorrow for our look at the Tampa Bay Rays.

R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe and contributes to's MLB Rumors blog. He has previously written for FanHouse, Razzball and FanDuel. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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