The New York Yankees have had one of the busiest off seasons of the 30 Major League teams. However, they still have many questions surrounding their starting defense and pitching. Believe it or not, the Yankees are currently under the luxury tax limit of $189M for the 2014 season. While improbable, the Bronx Bombers could forgo the rest of free agency and field the 2014 team from within. For the sake of argument, this article will also assume full healthy seasons for all players.
The outfield is completely set, thanks to some major free agent pickups. Brett Gardner will be in left, Jacoby Ellsbury will man center field, and Carlos Beltran will tend to the Bleacher Creatures in right. That’s the easy part. The rest of the team? Some holes remain that need to be filled.
The Yankees infield features Brian McCann catching, Mark Teixeira at first, and Derek Jeter at shortstop. Second and third base? There’s Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson, and Alex Rodriguez. In my opinion, Alex Rodriguez will be the opening day third baseman. Kelly Johnson will be the starter at second, leaving a bench role for Roberts. In the case that Alex Rodriguez actually is suspended, we shift Johnson to third and hand the everyday second base job to Roberts. Rodriguez at third leaves the Yankees a much stronger team. There’s just that pesky “Did A-Rod really do steroids again?” question that needs to be answered first.
What about that starting rotation, you ask? There are definitely more questions than answers. If the Yankees had five games starting this week, CC Sabathia, Huroki Kuroda, and Ivan Nova would start the first three. However, who starts the last two games? There are a few possibilities. David Phelps? Manny Banuelos? No. Try Michael Pineda and Vidal Nuno.
Michael Pineda is already well known among Yankee fans as the guy we gave up Jesus Montero for. At the time, the trade seemed terrible, and got even worse when Pineda missed an entire season with an injury. However, Montero did not perform and was eventually involved in the PED scandal. There’s no reason why a healthy Pineda cannot be a part of this rotation.
Vidal Nuno is a bit more of a new name for Yankee fans. He made his major league debut in 2013 before going down with an injury for the season. Like Pineda, he’s young and could be an eye opener. While there are a lot of names ahead of him, the former “best rookie in camp” should receive a fair shot at landing the last starting rotation spot.
The Yankees have improved since October. They will not surprise anyone by playing over .500 ball in April and May. The Yankees are a real contender, with a legitimate chance at a postseason birth, if not more. Most likely, the Yankees will be picking up a couple more pieces to help the squad. If not, this team should still win 90+ games.
Follow Scott on Twitter @lastchancealfy.