It’s hard to believe that the start of the 2014 season is less than four weeks away. It felt as if this offseason went by much faster than in years past…that’s probably because for the New York Yankees, it wasn’t really an “offseason” at all. The Yankees went out, and were by far the most aggressive of all the teams this offseason, signing a barrage of players that included Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Masahiro Tanaka. For most teams, signing this many high profile players would be enough to automatically declare them the favorites to win it all, right? Wrong.
Although the Yankees are, and should definitely be considered serious contenders to win the World Series (as they always are), there are still many questions and concerns that have yet to be answered, and won’t be until the season gets underway. So while we don’t know the answers to the long list of questions we have, and won’t know for a little while, who’s to say we can’t predict the answers that everyone has been itching to know? Here are my five bold predictions for the Yankees in 2014:
5. David Robertson will lead the AL in saves: That’s right. David Robertson will lead the American League in saves. There’s no doubt he’s going to have some huge shoes to fill, replacing the great Mariano Rivera as the Yankees’ closer. While there are some who doubt his ability to close in the ninth as opposed to setting up in the eighth, to me it’s a no-brainer that Robertson will succeed in this role as closer. I’ve been a strong believer in “Houdini” since he burst onto the scene in 2011. While he may not be Rivera, he has proven just how talented he really is these past few years. His ability to get clutch outs in big situations has been uncanny, and on top of that, he’s been learning from the best. All the mechanics for success are there, and if he does falter, it won’t be because of ability, but rather his mentality. However, after seeing him come through in big situation after big situation over the years, I’ve learned never to doubt this guy. Prediction: Robertson finishes the year leading the AL with 49 saves, with a record of 6-2, and an ERA of 2.50
4. CC Sabathia will be back to his old self: After coming off the worst year of his career last season in which he finished with a record of 14-13, and an ERA of 4.78, CC Sabathia will be back to his old dominant self this season. How can I be so sure? Well, for starters, just look at the amount of weight he’s lost. After finishing last season in his normal 315 lbs. range, CC Sabathia has lost a tremendous amount of weight this offseason. He’s reportedly down to about 275 lbs. You can tell, CC wasn’t fooling around this offseason. He has a new build, and a look in his eye that tells you just how determined he is to improve on his dreadful 2013 year, and help the Yankees get back to the World Series. While some have pointed to the fact that Sabathia’s velocity has been rapidly decreasing over the last couple of years, a perfect example of why you don’t need velocity to be a successful pitcher is Andy Pettitte. Pettitte, at age 41, came into last season barley throwing 89 mph, and managed to win 11 games, and play a big role on a depleted Yankees team. If Pettitte can do it, CC can as well. Prediction: CC finishes the season with a record of 17-10, with an ERA of 3.30
3. Brian Roberts will not play in 100 games: Before joining the Yankees, Brian Roberts had had a miserable last five years or so with the Orioles, suffering injury after injury after injury. He has missed 445 games the past four seasons due to abdominal, hip, concussion and hamstring issues. However, he’s excited about hopefully being a regular in the lineup and staying off the disabled list in his first season with New York. He’ll also have some big shoes to fill, replacing former Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, who bolted for the Seattle Mariners earlier this offseason. Roberts has said he won’t try to be Cano, that he’ll only try to be himself. As of right now, Roberts is healthy, and has looked good so far in spring training. While it is entirely possible, and I hope to hell it is, that Roberts stays healthy and is a productive member of the Yankees in 2014, I just can’t see it right now, and my gut feeling tells me he won’t. I hope I’m wrong. Prediction: Roberts appears in 80 games in 2014, with two DL stints. He finishes the year with an average of .240, 5 homers, and 30 RBI.
2. Ivan Nova will be the Yankees’ best starter in 2014: Ivan Nova has been known in the past for his inconsistency, but I truly believe that this is the year he finds that consistency. After starting off last season in absolutely dreadful fashion, finishing the month of April with a win-loss record of 1-1, and an ERA of 6.28, and eventually being demoted to the minors, Yankees’ pitcher Ivan Nova, suddenly made a dramatic comeback. After being called back up to the majors nearly a month after he was sent down, Nova returned a new pitcher. Nova was named the AL Pitcher of the Month for August 2013, in which he recorded a 4–0 record and a 2.08 ERA. From July 5 through August 31, Nova made seven consecutive starts in which he pitched at least seven innings and allowed three or fewer runs. Nova compiled a 7–5 record and a 2.70 ERA in 17 games, 16 of them starts, after being recalled from the minor leagues. His final 2013 record was 9–6 with a 3.10 ERA in 23 games pitched, 20 of them starts. The Yankees are gonna that Ivan Nova all season long with all the questions they have, and I think they will get it from him, as I think that this will be his breakout year. Prediction: Ivan Nova proves himself in 2014, as he ends up with a record of 18-7, with an ERA of 3.20
1. Derek Jeter will go out on top: After abruptly announcing his retirement via Facebook last month, Derek Jeter has no doubt been preparing for a whirlwind of a season, filled with gifts, and fans showing more love and appreciation towards him than ever before. Jeter has stated he doesn’t want this year to be about him, rather the team…sorry Derek, not gonna happen. All eyes will be on the Captain, as he will attempt to play his first full season since going down in the 2012 ALCS. Not only do I think Jeter will stay healthy this season, but I also think he will have one of the best overall years of his career. Will this translate to one last World Series victory? Only time will tell…Prediction: Jeter will appear in 140 games, finishing with an average of .312, 10 homers, and 60 RBI, en route to being named the AL Comeback Player of the Year.
These are my five bold predictions for the Yankees in 2014. Comment with your predictions and/or feedback!