Oct 12, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia reacts after getting out of a bases loaded situation in the 8th inning against the Baltimore Orioles during game five of the 2012 ALDS at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

The Key Cogs of the 2013 Yankees Machine

Every season there are a handful of players who are considered the core of the team’s production. They’re the key cogs who keep the machine rolling on and keep the team well-oiled throughout the season. In 2012, Robinson Cano, Hiroki Kuroda, Derek Jeter, Rafael Soriano were among the key players who thrust the Yankees into the playoffs. However, with each new year, comes a new set of players who will need to step up and play at a whole ‘nother level in order to keep the Yankees on top.

Sabathia will play a HUGE role in 2013 for the Yankees(Image: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

The big southpaw needs to improve after having a “down year” in 2012. It’s always troubling to hear your ace has arm issues, and that it exactly what happened last season with Sabathia. He’s pitched in 200 or more innings in each of the past six seasons, however, he missed a few starts in 2012 due to lingering elbow issues. He still pitched well, all considered, but he certainly didn’t look like himself for most of the season. His ERA (3.38) was well in line with previous years and his xFIP (3.20) was actually better than it has been. His K% and BB% both improved, which is great considering he’s aging and his fastball is losing life. In 2013, Sabathia needs to stay healthy and continue being an ace, a step backward for him could spell trouble for the Yankees not only this year, but over the life of his contract.

  • Robinson Cano
With his impending free agency on the horizon, the Yankees will soon need to make a decision about their future. As for Cano, a contract year usually equals good production. He’s the game’s best second baseman and one of its best hitters. Last year was more of the same from Cano, who had a very slow start (.267/.323/.389 and 90 wRC+ in April), but turned it on over the next five months to end the season with a .313/.379/.550 slash line and 150 wRC+, garnering him some MVP votes.  He’s the team’s best hitter and will be looked upon to continue that. With Jeter and Alex Rodriguez coming off serious injuries, the Yankees are going to need Cano to take his game to the next level and produce like never before.
The speedy outfielder was injured for most of the 2012 season. He’s one of the more underrated players on the Yankees due to all the star power, but he’s a table setter. Along with Ichiro Suzuki, Gardner will need to help fill the void left from Nick Swisher. He won’t do it with home runs and RBIs, but he’ll have to do it with his legs by getting himself into position to allow others to drive him home. The Yankees are a different team with Gardner in the lineup, he vastly upgrades their outfield defense and makes pitchers sweat when he’s on the base paths. Priority #1 for Gardner in 2013 is to stay healthy, everything after that will likely take care of itself.
I hate to say it, but it’s difficult believing Kuroda and Andy Pettitte can give the Yankees the same production they did in 2012. Both pitched out of their gourd and helped alleviate the pressure from Sabathia’s missed starts. However, it’s Hughes who will need to step up and make good on some of that promise. He’ll be slotted as the #4 guy in the rotation and will need to give the team around 15+ wins. He improved last year across the board despite an ungodly HR%. He’s a flyball pitcher, and unfortunately that comes with the territory. Saying that, his future is up in the air right now with the club, and a productive 2013 would go a long way to ensuring he stays in pinstripes throughout his career.
He’s a one-year mercenary who used to play for the enemy. Well, he’s a Yankee now and April will define his whole tenure with the Yankees. With A-Rod on the shelf until midseason, Youkilis will get the lion’s share of third base duties. Consequently, the $12-million contract will loom large if Youkilis’ season starts slowly and the cheers of “YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUK!!!” will undoubtedly turn to jeers of “BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” It’s imperative that he shows his best stuff out of the gate and endear himself (as much as he can) to the fans.
There’s mine, who are your top 5 key cogs for the Yankees in 2013?

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