Offense: Brett Gardner-CF, Derek Jeter-SS, Robinson Cano-2B, Alfonso Soriano-DH, Curtis Granderson-LF, Alex Rodriguez-3B, Lyle Overbay-1B, Ichiro Suzuki-RF, Chris Stewart-C. Bench: Austin Romine-C, Eduardo Nunez-IF, Vernon Wells-OF, Brent Lillibridge-Puck.
Multiple injuries to Curtis Granderson finally resulted in Brett Gardner being shifted into his sensible and proper defensive position of center field. Being an amazing defensive left fielder is great and all, but being a pretty good center fielder is a bit more valuable. Gardner is showing a bit more pop than usual, but his game plan still relies on drawing walks and stealing bases. You know, the kind of led off hitter a team would love to have. Derek Jeter has been having the kind of season you'd expect from a 39-year-old short stop: one riddled with injuries. He's listed as day-to-day with a calf issue, but he still had a good season last year so maybe there is still gas in the tank. He's the same good hitter, terrible fielder he's always been and his final season will be a nauseating wave of saccharine and treacle. Can't wait.
Robinson Cano has been carrying this offense. If not for him and Gardner, the Yankees would be somewhere south of .500. Will they be able to sign Jay-Z's biggest baseball client this offseason? Probably, yes. 30 homeruns with great plate discipline is a pretty dang nice thing to have. Since I've already written about Alfonso Soriano once this season, let's just copy and paste that, shall we? Every year I somehow think Alfonso Soriano's contract is about to expire and every year I am wrong. You'd think I'd commit it to memory so I could stop kicking myself but I do not. He's still doing his weird "hit like crap in odd-numbered years" thing, which seems a pretty poor strategy for a professional athlete (or any person really) to employ, but hey, he's rich and successful and I am typing from my childhood bedroom. Alfonso appears to be in a contest with Starlin as to who can walk fewer times this season, though they are mere amateurs compared to the great Jeff Keppinger. Soriano hasn't been showing his usual power so far this season, so he may currently be circling the drain. Still seems right. Well, minus the childhood bedroom part.
Curtis Granderson is finally healthy again and should help to provide a shot in the arm to this lackluster offense. The shift to left field should result in him being a better defender to boot, so that will be nifty. He's an interesting mix of strikeouts, walks, power, and speed and is all-around one of the more interesting players to watch in baseball. Not electric, but something entertaining. And while he greatly benefits from the short porch ay New Yankee Stadium, his game sure would play nicely in other bandbox parks. Like, say, U.S. Cellular Field. Alex Rodriguez is yet to play a game this season and if Bud Selig gets his way, he never will. If the appeal holds, A-Rod will play tomorrow. If not, he's gone through the next year and a half. He's no longer the monster he once was, but he's still likely an average hitter at worst. Just an average hitter making more money than almost everyone alive.
Lyle Overbay is still playing professional baseball at the highest level and is somehow now a starter for the most famous team in the world. Overbay never had any great or overwhelming talent or skill. While younger, he once had pretty good plate discipline and some slight power. Now though? Now he just kind of exists. Not good, not bad, just kind of there. This is what happens when Mark Teixeira gets hurt on a team that can't afford to bring in someone better than Lyle. Ichiro Suzuki hasn't been a good hitter since 2010. It seems robots age too, it just takes a bit longer. Will he stick around long enough to get another 292 hits so he can hit that magic 3,000 plateau in the states? I think so. It's only another two seasons or so. His defense is still top notch, so until he craters completely on offense, he'll manage to keep playing in the bigs. Chris Stewart has no place being a starter. Yet here we are. He's terrible with a bat, but can at least throw runners out.
Much like Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia is having a fairly pedestrian season for a pitcher on a Hall of Fame pace. So what's going wrong? Diminished velocity and bad luck. His fastball isn't quite as peppy as it once was and more homeruns are flying off hitters' bats than before. Throw in some BABIP and LOB% luck and the answer gets a little more clear. Well, that and realizing he's 33-years-old. His fastball sits in the low-90s now and he mixes it up with a slider and a changeup. Hiroki Kuroda may be absorbing all of Sabathia's luck, as he's having a career year, which is not something 38-year-old pitchers often do. He gets fewer strikeouts than he did in his Dodgers' heyday, but he has great control and keeps the ball on the ground. Kuroda throws a sinking fastball in the low-90s, a slider, a splitter, and a show-me curve.
Some day the Yankees will run out of former World Series heroes from the last baseball dynasty. You'd think it would have already happened, but guys like Andy Pettitte seem to have magically found some way to combat aging. Curious. Andy continues to pitch well enough to warrant a rotation spot, and it's not hard to see how. Like Kuroda, he has great control and keeps the ball down. Strikeouts may be sexier, but when you find a formula that works, you run with it until the legs give out. Pettitte has a fastball in the upper-80s, a cutter, a curveball, and a changeup. Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, future Yankee aces. Potential is a raging asshole. Hughes is a flyball pitcher without great strikeout stuff in a park that penalizes the hell out of people foolish enough to think they should be a flyball pitcher without great strikeout stuff. I don't think he'll be re-signed this winter and it will be interesting to see what teams are willing to take a chance on him. Failed potential is always attractive. Hughes has a low-90s fastball, a slider, a curveball, and a changeup.
Ivan Nova continues to succeed mostly unheralded. He's not amazing, but over the past two years he's managed to add good strikeout totals to his fantastic groundball numbers. That makes for a very potent fifth starter. He works mostly with a heavy sinking fastball in the mid-90s and a curveball, but sprinkles in some changeups and sliders to keep hitters honest. Mariano Rivera is the greatest relief pitcher of all time. That's not even really up for debate. What is up for debate? The strange retirement tour he seems to be undergoing, with opposing teams presenting him gifts and paying him homage. I just find it odd to give a player who never pitched an inning for you a present. He's going out well though and still just by throwing that damned cutter.
Outlook: Injuries, old age, and giant contracts have taken their collective tolls on this edition of the Yankees. It's going to take some sort of miracle for them to make the playoffs this year. That being said, the 2013 White Sox are terrible. Yankees win the series 4-2. Thanks again for reading the season previews this year. I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.