2013 was a weird year for the New York Yankees and their fans. Due to injuries, they never had their primary lineup in the field. However, they were still in the playoff hunt until the last week of the season which goes to show the heart of the players on this team and just how good a manager Joe Girardi actually is. The Yankees missed the playoffs for only the 2nd time since the 1994 strike and finished 3rd in the AL East with a record of 85-77.
2013 was dominated by the Alex Rodriguez Biogenesis scandal and suspension. Thankfully, that should be behind the Yankees going into 2014 as ARod has been suspended for the entire season plus playoffs (he is still taking everyone involved to court, but I doubt the court will overturn an arbitrated suspension).
2013 was also the final year for two of the “Core Four” in Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera. Rivera seemed like he could easily come back for 2014 if he wanted, but in August he finally hit a wall and I do believe Father Time finally caught up with him. Replacing Rivera is impossible but Dave Robertson will be given the chance in 2014. I do believe Robertson will do a great job (being equal to Rivera isn’t even on the table – no one will ever be Rivera again). Pettitte pitched admirably in his final season and finding a replacement for him in the rotation has already been done with the signing of Masahiro Tanaka.
Tanaka was the number one pitching free agent on the market and the Yankees wound up the winners in that sweepstakes. It cost them $22 million a year for the 25 year old phenom (which busted the $189 million luxury tax limit the Yankees wanted to stay under) and hopefully it will be all worth it. Tanaka will be slotted as the number three starter behind CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda but could easily be the ace of the staff by the end of the season. Will Tanaka be the Yankees’ version of Yu Darvish or will he be Dice-K? Only time will tell. I don’t expect him to light it up like he did in Japan but I do believe he has the stuff to be one of the AL’s best pitchers.
The biggest loss in the off-season came from losing Robinson Cano. Cano is one of the top-5 players in the game today and will be for years to come, however, the Yankees did not want to sign a 10-year contract with any player so he went to the Seattle Mariners. Losing his bat and defense will hurt the Yankees. However, they improved in many other positions by signing some big free agents.
The Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury (to replace Curtis Granderson who signed with the Mets) and Carlos Beltran. This means the outfield will be Brett Gardner, Ellsbury, and Beltran. It should easily be one of the best defensive outfields in the game and a huge improvement offensively over what the Yankees had last year (Ichiro will now be relegated to DH/platoon duties).
The Yankees first big signing this off-season was at catcher and Brian McCann. The Yankees made a huge mistake last year in letting Russell Martin walk. That wasn’t going to happen this year. I do believe they over-paid for McCann, however, what he brings at the plate and behind the plate should pay plenty of dividends.
This season they should also have Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira back from injury; so it’s like they signed two big free agents for those positions. While they probably won’t be the players they were in years past, they will be significant improvements over the many players the Yankees trotted out at short and first base last season.
There are only three spots were the Yankees did not improve significantly – third base, setup man, and second base. Replacing Cano at second is impossible though with the improvements in offense at the other positions hopefully that won’t be a problem. With ARod gone for the season, third base will be manned by several players so it’s just a matter of who wants it. The Yankees can still find a setup man to replace Dave Robertson (who moved to closer); that is if they want to spend more money and sign Fernando Rodney. If not, they have plenty of guys in the bullpen who should do fine.
Last year, the Yankees were a mediocre team that managed to stay in the playoff hunt. This year, the Yankees should be drastically improved and I do believe they will fight for the AL East title. While I do think the Red Sox still win the AL East, I do think the Yankees make the playoffs as a Wild Card and actually make it to the ALCS. In the playoffs, a rotation of CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Masahiro Tanaka just might be hard to beat.
Where will the Yankees finish in the AL East in 2014?
- 2nd (49%, 19 Votes)
- 1st (31%, 12 Votes)
- 3rd (10%, 4 Votes)
- 4th (10%, 4 Votes)
Total Voters: 39