We here at Yanks Go Yard, discuss anything and everything when it comes to the Yankees. Tons of “what ifs” and “it might happens” float around our work group, but at the end of the day, we attempt to do our very best to keep our personal feelings and beliefs in our back pockets, and to provide you, the readers with the most comprehensive and complete coverage of the greatest franchise in professional sports.
Every now and again, we as a staff make a decision to go in another direction; to put our thoughts and feelings on-screen and share them with the world. This is one of those times, as we decided that some of us would take a crack at making some bold predictions for the Yankees in 2014. As of right now, my colleague, Scott Alfano has been the only one to dip his toe into the waters of craziness and put his predictions out there for the world to see, criticize, or agree with. You can catch his “Five Bold Predictions For The Yankees Offense” here, and his “Five Bold Predictions For The Yankees Pitching Staff” here. With it being a laid back Friday, the gateway to the last weekend before spring training baseball returns, I thought as one of the two co-editors of this site, I would go ahead and get all ten of my bold predictions for the Yankees in 2014 out of the way. Sit back, relax, enjoy, and don’t get too fired up over what I think might happen in the Bronx this season. These are nothing more than guesses, based on gut instinct, personal feelings, and bias.
#10. Brett Gardner will not be a member of the Yankees by the end of the season: Yep, you read that correctly. I think Gardner will be a former member of the Bronx Bombers come October. Why? He’s got the most trade value, in a position in which the Yankees are relatively deep at the big league level, and he’s a free agent at the end of the season. The team has so many holes to fill, that if one of those holes becomes a glaring weakness (third base, second base, bullpen, starting pitching), and thus costs the team unnecessary losses, I think Brian Cashman will dangle him to the highest bidder. Chase Headley anyone?
#9. David Robertson will not be the closer by the All-Star break: Not much of a stretch I know, but it seems I am on an island with my fellow staff members on this one. Most of my colleagues believe that D-Rob is the guy to replace the retired Mariano Rivera. I simply don’t agree. While supporters of Robertson will say he was only given a brief look in 2012, and his sample size was so small, you can’t project that his performance will be as bad as it was that one week he was the closer. Wrong again. Some guys just don’t have it to be closers, and by mid-summer, the Yankees will realize it as well, and most likely make a deal with a team out of the pennant race to upgrade the closer’s role, and move Robertson back where he belongs…as the main set-up man in the 8th inning.
#8. Brian Roberts plays in 130 games at second base, and has one last renaissance year: When Robinson Cano left, and the talk became of trading for Brandon Phillips, I was in support of that move. I also thought that Roberts if protected, could be a valuable asset to the Yankees on the cheap. I’m sticking with that thought, and by season’s end, Roberts will be hovering around .290, with 12-15 home runs, 20 stolen bases, and 25 doubles. It’s now in print, so if he gets hurt jogging out to second base during the third spring training game, my prediction has been blown completely out of the water, but I’ll stand by it.
#7. By the end of the season, C.C. Sabathia will be no better than the Yankees’ #4 starter: I might be in the popular clique on this one. I think at his age, combined with the weight loss and the loss of velocity on his once-blazing heater, Sabathia will be the highest-paid #4 starter in baseball. My prediction for his numbers? Try 12-14, a 4.55 ERA, and a league-leading 31 home runs allowed. Plump back up big boy, you can’t change what you are.
#6. Mark Teixeira plays in less than 50 games in 2014: I’m not buying for one single second that all of a sudden because Tex says he will “hit 30 home runs and drive in 100″ actually means he’s going to. We already know that his surgically-repaired wrist is going to be an issue this season. His doctors have told him that stiffness and numbness will be present at times over the course of the season. I think when he gets off to his historically slow start, Tex presses too hard on the gas trying to make an impact, and reinjures himself. Paging Kendrys Morales…
#5. Vidal Nuno is going to be the second-half pitching version of Shane Spencer: For those of you old enough to remember Spencer, he made quite an impact for the Yankees upon his second call-up of 1998 when he hit 10 home runs, including 3 grand slams in only 67 at-bats that September. Nuno will have that kind of impact. One of the Yankees five starters will be broken down, tired, or just ineffective, and with a Wild Card berth on the line, Joe Girardi goes to the young left-hander, who from mid-August forward, will go 4-1 with an ERA of about 2.23. He will make the postseason roster if the Yankees can hang on, and in 2015, he’s in the rotation to stay.
#4. The Yankees top prospect, Gary Sanchez will be dealt for a big bat before the end of the season: How often have the Yankees allowed a prospect to develop and make his impact on the big club? Garnder? Cano? Prior to that, it was really only the “Core Four”. The tandem of Kelly Johnson/Eduardo Nunez/Dean Anna will be so putrid, Brian Cashman will have no choice but to package Sanchez, Gardner, and most likely one of the lower-tier power arms in the system for a big bat at the hot corner. Any player can be had for the right price, and if the Yankees pull out all of the stops, the deal happens.
#3. Hiroki Kuroda retires during the season: Longing to return to his native Japan, Kuroda almost called it a career at the end of 2013. I don’t believe his heart is in the game anymore, and his performance on the mound will show it. After continuing with the struggles he finished 2013 with, Kuroda will have too much pride to go out and get battered every fifth day. After a brutal beating at the hands of the lowly Houston Astros at the Stadium, Kuroda has had enough, and retires before the end of the season.
#2. Michael Pineda leads the Yankees starting rotation in victories, ERA, and strikeouts: I’ve always loved Pineda’s ability, and feel as if he’s gotten a bad rap for having been hurt each of the past two seasons. He did so-so during his rehab starts last year, but I believe in what I saw back in 2011. At the end of 2014, Pineda will have tallied 16 wins, a 3.15 ERA, and whiffed 188 hitters, making him the pseudo-ace of the staff by the end of the season.
#1. Derek Jeter goes out on top, winning his long overdue American League MVP: He’s been robbed twice, by a pair of Minnesota Twins (Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer), but this is the season that storybook endings are all about. By the end of his final campaign in pinstripes, Jeter edges out Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera for the hardware, hitting .337, with 18 home runs, 80 RBI, steals 22 bases, and has an OPS in the neighborhood of .840. He’s got nothing left to prove, and has no reason to leave anything in the tank. Jeter will become the first home grown Yankee since Don Mattingly in 1985 to bring home the MVP award. Not a bad way for the Captain to ride off into the sunset.