Things to watch for from the Yankees this season

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  1. Things to watch for from the Yankees this season With pitchers and catchers beginning to report and spring training right around the corner, the Yankees face many…
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  • 1. Things to watch for from the Yankees this season With pitchers and catchers beginning to report and spring training right around the corner, the Yankees face many question marks going into the season. Four of the nine players in the 2014 Opening Day lineup are gone, and CC Sabathia will probably not be this year’s Opening Day starter, so there will most likely be five new faces on the field this year’s Opening Day compared to last. With so many new players in addition to returning players coming back from injuries, there is much uncertainty going into 2015. Starting Pitching: With four fifths of the rotation being injured for most of the season last year, starting pitching has to be a question mark. What can the Yankees expect from Masahiro Tanaka, who slightly tore his UCL last July? What can the Yankees expect from CC Sabathia, who is coming off knee surgery? What can they expect from injury-prone Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova, who is set to return in June after having Tommy John surgery last year? The one reliable and durable starter the Yankees had last year in Hiroki Kuroda left to play in Japan. The consensus is that Tanaka should be good for the time being. After all, numerous doctors and experts have said that Tommy John surgery is not necessary at this point and time. But having said that, it is also widely assumed that he will indeed eventually need Tommy John surgery sometime later in his career. Sabathia is a major question mark. In 2013, Sabathia posted a then career high 4.78 ERA, and last season, he compiled only 46 innings pitched in eight starts, including a career high 5.28 ERA over
  • 2. that span, after having his season cut short due to a meniscus cartilage tear. Barring injury, Sabathia can still be an effective pitcher despite his declining velocity (average of 93.9 MPH in 2011, 91.3 in 2013, and upper 80s in the limited innings he pitched last year). If Sabathia takes of the likes of Mike Mussina in his final years, and focuses on mixing up his pitches and locating them, he can still be successful. Heck, Mussina won twenty games in his final season as a 39-year old whose average fastball was 87 MPH. It won’t be easy, but Sabathia must adjust his approach in he still wants to be effective. As for Michael Pineda, there is no telling whether or not he will be healthy for the duration of the season. Last year, with the exception of the pine tar incident, Pineda showed he’s capable of being an elite starter. If healthy, he very well could be the best No. 3 starter in the game. To round out the rotation are newly acquired flamethrower Nathan Eovaldi and returning starter Chris Capuano. As far as Ivan Nova goes, he will most likely take Capuano’s spot in the rotation when he comes back in June, unless another starter is injured, in which he would most likely fill in for that starter. Middle Infield: With the retiring of shortstop Derek Jeter and the abundance of players used at second base last season, the middle infield was revamped over the offseason. At shortstop, the Yankees traded for Didi Gregorius from the Arizona Diamondbacks. At this point, it is unclear what Joe Girardi plans to do with him; whether to start him full time or platoon him with guys such as Brendan Ryan and Stephan Drew. Regardless of how Girardi decides to manage the position, it will be considered an upgrade defensively from the 40-year-old Jeter of last season. Offensively, Gregorious and company won’t be
  • 3. much better, if at all. Known for their gloves, Gregorious and Ryan are subpar hitters at the plate. Although Jeter didn’t produce Jeter-like stats in his final season, it would be considered a win if Gregorious and Ryan were able to match it. At first, most people assumed Martin Prado would be the Opening Day second baseman. Nope, the Yankees traded him to the Miami Marlins. Then, most people assumed the Yankees would let prospects Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder battle it out for the position. Wrong again. The Yankees signed Stephan Drew to a one-year deal, presumably, to be the starting second baseman. Although Drew may begin the year at second, there’s no telling if he will end there. Drew had an atrocious year at the plate in 2014, batting a pitiful .150 in 46 games. Should his woes continue in 2015, Refsnyder and Pirela will be ready to pounce, leaving Drew on the bench, on another team, or even unemployed. Life without the Captain: The Yankees have had the luxury of having the leadership of Derek Jeter as captain for the past twelve seasons. The question now is, who will step up as leader in the clubhouse? The Yankees have had fifteen captains in their illustrious one hundred fourteen year history, so they will not be giving out that sacred title until they are sure they have found the right successor. It it even took the Yankees seven years and four World Series titles to crown Jeter as captain. Although the Yankees likely won’t induct anyone as captain this season, naturally someone has to step up as the leader. Who will that be? Could it be a veteran such as Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann or
  • 4. Mark Teixeira? Or could it be a youngster such as Dellin Betances? Regardless of who it may be, it is imperative that someone step up in order to maintain order in the clubhouse.
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