Five Most Important Yankees For 2013

Spring Training is only a little bit over two weeks away and that usually brings about optimism for every baseball fan. There has not been a lot of reason for optimism for Yankees fans this winter. Ownership has not allowed Brian Cashman to spend freely, due to the mandate of getting the payroll under $189 million by 2014. This has led to very little activity from the Yankees this offseason. They have seen other teams in the American League get better like the Angels and Blue Jays. While the pessimism is certainly justified, it is not all doom and gloom for the Yankees. While the Angels and Tigers are a step above them right now, the Yankees should still have a solid team. Toronto is the favorite in the AL East right now, but it certainly is not impossible for the Yankees to win the division. Here are the five most important players for the Yankees to have a successful year this season:

1. Mark Teixeira– While Mark Teixeira has performed like a very good player over the last three years with the Yankees, he has not been the superstar that they were hoping for and that he was in 2009. The Yankees will be counting on Teixeira to bat cleanup and provide protection for Robinson Cano. That means an .OPS in the low .800’s and a batting average around .250 isn’t going to cut it. The Yankees need his OPS back around .900 and his average around .270 or .280. Teixeira is the Yankees’ only power threat from the right side and they need him to produce. Power won’t be the issue as Teixeira has hit close to 40 home runs even in his down seasons. If the Yankees can get anything close to the 2009 version of Teixiera him and Cano would be one of the best 3-4 duo’s in MLB.

2. Curtis Granderson– Curtis Granderson is in a similar situation as Teixeira. While he hasn’t had the career success that Teixeira has had, Granderson needs to get back to his 2011 season like Teixeira needs to get back to his 2009 form. There is a ton of pressure on Granderson this season because the Yankees did not go and add another bat for the 5th spot in the lineup. Justin Upton or Michael Morse would have been perfect, but obviously the Yankees did not acquire either of them. So, the Yankees will be counting on Granderson to return to his 2011 form. Granderson hit 43 home runs last season, but his line of .232/.319/.492/.811 was simply not good enough. Worst of all, he had an egregious 28.5 K% and looked completely lost at the end of the year. Kevin Long will need to work his magic on Granderson again for the 2013 season.

3. Mariano Rivera– The biggest strength the Yankees have right now is their bullpen. David Robertson, Joba Chamberlian, David Aardsma, Boone Logan and Clay Rapada make up a very solid middle relief core. There is one question about the bullpen Can Mariano Rivera be the Mariano Rivera that we know him to be at age 43 coming off a torn ACL and meniscus? Even for the immortal Rivera it is a legitimate question. If Rivera is injured or ineffective, the Yankees would still have a good bullpen, but probably not an elite one like they do if Rivera is his dominant self. However, I will never bet against Rivera, so I expect him to be just fine.

4. Brett Gardner– The Yankees sorely missed Brett Gardner last season, as a wrist injury in April caused him to miss most of the 2012 season. Gardner, the only Yankees regular starter under 30, will be a key piece for the Yankees this season. Last season, New York’s left fielders hit .253/.315/.444/.759. They largely depended on the power of Raul Ibanez. While Gardner won’t provide that, he will provide many other good qualities. Gardner will provide great patience at the plate, as his career walk percentage (11.0%) and pitches per plate appearance (4.29) are extremely good. Gardner will be huge on the base paths, as he has stolen 47 and 49 bases in his last two healthy seasons. His defense in left field is probably the best in MLB. While we know his defense and base running will be great, his hitting is still a question mark. His career line of .266/.355/.368/.723 is only OK for a non power hitter. Also, he has been poor against lefties for his career (.256/.362/.355/.731). For the Yankees to be an elite offense, they will need Gardner to have a close to .290 average at least. He has never done that in his career, but at age 29 Gardner should be peaking.

5. Phil Hughes– Like the bullpen, the rotation is a strength of the Yankees. CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda form a very solid top of the rotation and Phil Hughes is a little bit of a wild card. Hughes overcame a rough April to have a solid season. He improved on his slider and changeup to help put more hitters away. This helped him to strikeout 7.8 per nine innings and only walk 2.2 per nine innings. Hughes is in a contract year, so he should be motivated to have a great season, as he can cash in big at the end of the year. From June through August, Hughes had a 3.19 ERA. If he can pitch even close to that for the whole 2013 season the Yankees will have a dominant rotation.

About Matthew B

I am a student at William Paterson University and studying to become a sportswriter. I have a huge passion for the Yankees and love sharing my opinions on them. I can analyze every aspect of the Yankees very well. I am very active on Twitter so feel free to contact me there Twitter: @RAYROBERT9

Posted on January 25, 2013, in Personal Opinion and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. Nice stuff Matt B. who did you almost put on the list. Or were these 5 the easiest choices for you?

  2. I would say Jeter was the hardest to leave off for sure. How close he can come to repeating his season last year will have a big impact.

    • Great list Matt. I’m going to do an article on Teixeira next week as I agree that he is the guy that i needed to step up more than anyone.

      • Michael P…a follow-up on our last posts. Melky vs. Ichiro:
        Ichiro has shown no drop off. Last season, he did everything asked. Team player.
        Melky, nice guy. But can you tell me how he will do without performance enhancing drugs?

        • melky actually performed at a cano like level for the royals. suzuki did show a drop off for 2 years in seattle, then he came to nyc and killed. he may regress but I’m a yankee fan so i don’t think he will

      • Thanks Mike

  3. Jeter is the key to the season……he had an All Star year last year…..and it will be difficult to repeat especially after a broken foot. But he is the greatest SS of the modern era ….so never count him out!

    • twasp…
      You are entitled to you opinion of Jeter, so have at it but, it is your opinion. Baseball stats say otherwise but non the less, in one sense you are dead on.
      Jeter had an out of sight year, last year, even without the ankle injury, to expect that ever again from him is dreaming. I hope he will do ok but, after looking at his defensive stats from the last four years, I think he would have to hit like last year (and he won’t) to make up for his other short comings…don’t you?
      Come on twasp, be honest with yourself, if this were anyone but Jeter you would say the same thing and you know it. Look how you and others have ripped into Tex and A-Rod. In A-Rods case he was injured but it didn’t stop anyone.
      I can understand the way you younger fans love you some Jeter, It’s the same way with my generation, we like our heroes as much as you do yours. But, don’t close your eyes to the facts when they are there to be seen by anyone with the honesty to see.
      Ty Cobb, the most hated player to ever live (Maybe) but, still to this day, considered one of the best players ever. The only place it counts is between the lines, not in your personal life!

      • Dear Mr. Oldyankee03hater……..

        Don’t forget the intangibles …..leadership, courage, character, respect of teammates, heart, integrity…..all lead to Winning. And winning is the onlynstat that really counts. The only SS with 5 rings.

  4. Matt B. Has anyone ever won the All Star Game MVP and the World Series MVP in the same year?

  5. Correct Matt S. …….the great Derek Sanderson Jeter……

  6. good stuff Matt….. four bounceback seasons and a repeat. the left side of the infield is a huge ? for the year too with youkilis and jetes leaving a gaping hole open so their offense will need to show up as well.

  7. Cowgirls…remember when those that do not post here any longer, screamed
    that I called them Cowgirls? You don’t think they had an agenda?
    re: the Brian Cashman interview on WFAN today…. Brian said that they are still looking
    outside the current roster, for a DH/OF type.

  8. YANKA-FAN…I think Ichiro is reborn. He has a reason to perform again.
    Melky remain an enigma. Are you home, or in Florida?

    • jamesmoosescott

      Home currently, and I would like to believe so. This year the team is very risk/reward, i feel the season could go either way. I don’t think we will miss the playoffs tho

  9. I too, feel things may go bad or good and that is not a good way to approach the season!

    1–Will Jeter bounce back?
    We hope so, very important that he come close.
    2–A-Rod may miss the season altogether!
    There is good and bad in that scenario, if not healthy…not good, if healthy, play him!
    3–Will the real Cano show-up?
    We can only hope so but, I think he will go for the home-run more so this year because of contract.
    4–Will this be the year they move Brett to CF and show he can hit and bunt?
    The best defence (and believe me we will need it) is Granderson in left field and Brett in CF.
    Fans (and experts, Joke) have always under rated Brett…I think unjustly so. He has hit both Lefty and righties over the years let us hope he plays as we know he can!

    What do you think, is this enough things to pay attention to or should we go over more? 🙂

    • I’d rather have Brett in CF as well.

      • Mattew S…
        I knew their were others around here besids Delia and I.
        I have never figured out the reasonning behind behind the idea of leaving a sub par player in his customary position so as not to play with his head. My thought is, why mess with the better players head and make the pitchers happier to know that if it can be gotten to, Brett will get it.

    • Brett CAN hit. He just has the problem that he’s streaky. He’s shown that he can get base hit after base hit when he’s on fire. We just need to figure out how to keep him hitting all year long. He also hit very well during the 2011 postseason and I understand his bad 2012 postseason since he was nowhere near ready to play since he was out of playing shape.

    • Not only do the fans and the experts underrate Brett…but even Joe Girardi underrates him, sitting him always against lefties (except for Ricky Romero) in favor in the past of Andruw Jones (who thank goodness is in Japan). He’s never going to get better if Girardi treats him like a platoon player.

      • Yes Delia, you are right, his numbers vs. left-hander is not a big thing. Most players have a decline in avg. like he does. The funny thing is, when he is hitting well he hits anyone, when not….he could use a tennis racquet and not hit the ball…give or take a lie, here and there!
        I have always been a fan of his from back in the day of his playing on the farm, he reminds me of someone I know…always having to fight for everything. He is much better than most fans think, he has about 3-4 more years to prove them wrong…look for a good year from him.

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