Over the course of 30 days (or so) I will be previewing all 30 MLB teams, followed by an overall season prediction post, leading up to the start of the 2015 season. This post is previewing the New York Yankees.
It’s a season of change for the Yankees with the retirement of longtime SS Derek Jeter, the last remaining player from the team that was considered a dynasty, beginning in 1996. It’ll be up to SS Didi Gregorius, a career .243 hitter, to serve as Jeter’s replacement — big shoes to fill. One player returning to the team is DH Alex Rodriguez, who famously missed the entire 2014 season while serving a suspension for PEDs.
The 2014 Yankees definitely won’t be confused with Murderers’ Row of the ’27 team. The offense had the fifth-worst batting average at the American League at .245, and the fourth-worst OPS at .687. The team was above the AL average with 147 home runs. The pitching was better, finishing in the middle of the pack in the AL with a 3.75 ERA. SP Masahiro Tanaka was impressive, going 13-5 with a 2.77 ERA in just 20 starts after an elbow injury sidelined him for most of the second half of the season. RP David Robertson did a fine job replacing the retired Mariano Rivera last year, but he’ll be closing for the White Sox this year.
So what can we expect from the Yankees in their first Jeter-less season since 1994? Probably not a whole lot. There really isn’t anyone on the offense who is likely to scare opposing pitchers. No one knows what to expect from A-Rod, who hasn’t played in a regular season game since 2013 — when he hit just .244 — and will turn 40 in July. 1B Mark Teixeira had a .216 batting average last year and hasn’t played in more than 150 games since 2011, OFs Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury are always questionable to play a full season, and 3B Chase Headley is a career .265 hitter with a little power. C Brian McCann, who has hit at least 20 home runs in each of the last seven seasons, might be the team’s biggest threat offensively, but he won’t be an everyday player behind the plate. The pitching staff also has many question marks, including in the bullpen with a few candidates for the closer role who have little or no experience closing out games on a regular basis.The rotation is likewise filled with question marks. In addition to Tanaka, SP CC Sabathia’s season ended early due to injury.
In the past, the Yankees may have made a big splash in free agency to improve their team without having to go through a rebuilding period. But by not doing that, the team has positioned itself to likely not compete for a playoff spot in 2015. I think the Yankees would be lucky to finish the season with a record above .500 and in third place in the East.