It’s hard to believe, but the 2014 MLB Season is just around the corner! While the New York Yankees have already addressed many issues this offseason, there’s still a lot that needs to be done. However, if the season began tomorrow, this is likely what the 2014 lineup would look like:
1. Jacoby Ellsbury CF
2. Derek Jeter SS
3. Carlos Beltran RF
4. Mark Teixeira 1B
5. Brian McCann C
6. Alfonso Soriano DH
7. Kelly Johnson 3B
8. Brian Roberts 2B
9. Brett Gardner LF
I will now break down for you the expectations for each starter in 2014.
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF 2014 Expectations: High
The expectations for Jacoby Ellsbury following his 7 year $153 million agreement, will be sky-high. With the departure of Robinson Cano, not only is Ellsbury now arguably the best player on the team, but he will also be expected to step up and play like a $153 million guy. Just adding Ellsbury’s name into the picture automatically improves this team. He’s got speed, agility, strength, but most of all he adds another veteran presence to a team that clearly lost some of that with the retirements of Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte. After helping Boston to their third World Series win in the last decade, Ellsbury will no doubt be expected to do the same here in New York. But in order for that to happen, he’s going to have to stay healthy. Injuries have been a problem for Ellsbury, but he as well as the Yankees are hoping that’s all in the past, and that he’ll be on the field to stay come Opening Day.
2. Derek Jeter, SS 2014 Expectations: Average
After appearing in only 17 games in 2013, the first in his 20-year career in which he missed almost an entire season due to injury, and a season in which he described as “a nightmare,” Derek Jeter will set out not only to make a point in 2014 that he can still play, but to help the Yankees win their 28th World Series championship as well. At the end of the season, instead of picking up his $9.5 million option for 2014 as most expected, Jeter and the Yankees agreed on a $2.5 million raise bringing the total to $12 million for next season. It later came out that the Yankees were in fact the ones who had approached Jeter about the raise. This was a surprising and a little bit of an odd move on the Yankees part, seeing as they have repeatedly stated how they are trying to get under the $189 million threshold. This raise was obviously not given to Jeter because of the way he’d played in 2013, but instead for the sole reason that he is Derek Jeter. This has been an extremely disappointing turn of events for everyone involved, because of the fact that Jeter, at age 38, was coming off one of the best regular seasons of his career in 2012, finishing with a .316 BA, and leading the league with 216 hits, just three shy of his career record (219 in 1999). All in all, no one really has any idea what to expect from the Captain in 2014. Most say he’s done. But hey, Jeter’s been proving people wrong for 20 years. So why can’t he do it again?
3. Carlos Beltran, RF 2014 Expectations: High
For 3-years and $45 million, the Yankees signed a phenomenal offensive player in Carlos Beltran. Carlos has described time and again, as a future Hall of Famer, and has always been known to come up clutch in the postseason. Although he has two bad knees, the Yankees didn’t sign him for his defense. They signed him to substitute his offense in the #3 spot for Robinson Cano’s. While there is no doubt that at this point in both of their careers, and Cano is the superior offensive threat, Beltran has also had some very good numbers recently. Beltran finished last season with 24 homers and 84 RBI, to go along with a .296 BA. And those numbers should only increase with the help of the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium. Overall, Beltran should be a big help to the Yankees lineup, and is someone fans should be looking forward to watching in 2014.
4. Mark Teixeira, 1B 2014 Expectations: Above-Average
Mark Teixeira, like virtually every other prominent Yankee, missed almost the entire 2013 season, with a right wrist injury. Teixeira has vowed to stay healthy in 2014. Tex is notorious for starting seasons slowly, and with the wrist possibly bothering him physically and psychologically, it could be a slower start than normal. Tex is known as a Gold Glove first baseman, and the Yankees sorely missed his defense last season. They also missed his switch hitting power, and presence in the lineup. But if Tex along with the switch-hitting Beltran can remain healthy, the Yankees could have a very imposing middle of the lineup. They can only hope.
5. Brian McCann, C 2014 Expectations: High
Brian McCann signed with the Yankees on a 5-year $85 million deal. This was arguably the best signing of the offseason to date for the Yanks, because McCann brings not only tremendous defensive and offensive ability, but adds a ton of clubhouse leadership and intensity as well. The Yankees in recent years have become softer, such as when they did not retaliate to the Red Sox beaning A-Rod last season. The Yankees of the 90’s would never have taken that, and McCann brings that type of attitude back to the Yankees. He is also a dead-pull lefty hitter which will be a perfect fit for the short porch in right field. Catcher was obviously the position the Yankees most desperately needed to fill this offseason, and they did that. McCann is now the Yankees best catcher since Jorge Posada, and once his career in Pinstripes is done, according to manager Joe Girardi, he could very well find himself among those other names, such as Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey, Elston Howard, and Thurman Munson. There is no doubt that the Yankees and their fans should be SALIVATING over this signing. We’ll just have to wait and see whether McCann can keep us salivating come the start of the season.
6. Alfonso Soriano, DH 2014 Expectations: High
After reacquiring him in a trade in August, Alfonso Soriano exceeded all expectations, going on an absolute TEAR throughout the month of August. In 34 less games with the Yankees in 2013 than with the Cubs, Soriano hit the same amount of homers (17), and had only one less RBI (51-50). While Soriano may not be a starter in the outfield come next season, he will be their first option for DH, and will also likely get a good amount of playing time in right when Beltran needs a DH day. So while it’s not likely to expect anywhere near the same level of production from Soriano in 2014, the Yankees are still expecting him to be a big offensive contributor.
7. Kelley Johnson, 3B 2014 Expectations: Average
With the news coming out of Alex Rodriguez‘s suspension, it is more than likely that Kelley Johnson could find himself starting at third base come Opening Day. While Johnson may not be an incredible player, he could prove to be a big steal for the Yankees. In 118 games for the Rays last season, Johnson hit 16 home runs with 52 RBI. The Yankees signed the utility man for 1 year and $3 million, so if he can even give them some of that production from last season, it would be a great deal. So while fans shouldn’t expect tremendous things from Johnson, he shouldn’t be overlooked either. Who knows? He could turn out to be another Raul Ibanez…
8. Brian Roberts, 2B 2014 Expectations: Below-Average
The Yankees signed Brian Roberts to a 1-year $2 million deal, and with no Cano, along with no better options, Roberts could find himself starting 2014 at second base. This is another move that could prove to be a steal for the Bombers. Before signing with the Yankees, Roberts had spent his entire 13-year career with the Baltimore Orioles, and he is a former all-star. The only problem? Injuries. Brian Roberts just may be the most injury prone player in pro sports. He has missed tons of games over the years with multiple injuries, including missing 85 games this past season. If Roberts can be even half of what he was, the Yankees will be ecstatic. But until that happens, he’s not a guy you should feel too confident about going forward.
9. Brett Gardner, LF 2014 Expectations: High
After coming off arguably the best all around season of his career, Brett Gardner is someone Yankees fans should feel confident about. He can hit, field, and most of all run. He has also become a fan favorite, and when rumors of the Yankees possibly trading him started to swirl, fans were adamant about him staying. The Yankees have said that they have no intention to trade Gardner, even turning down an offer from the Cincinnati Reds for Gardner in exchange for Brandon Phillips. At least half a dozen teams have shown interest in him, but at this point, it looks like the only possible way Gardner could be traded is if the Yankees fail to sign pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. But Gardner is in a contract year, and rumor is if Gardner has another good year, he could command close to $100 million next offseason. Who’s he gonna get that from? Certainly not the Yankees. So they may have no choice but to trade him at some point, if not this offseason, than maybe at the trade deadline. As far as his playing for the Yankees goes, all trades aside, he is definitely someone to look forward to watching this season.
These are my expectations for every position player on the Yankees in 2014. Be sure to comment with your opinions and/or feedback!