Age is starting to catch up with the New York Yankees. However, it is hard to count out a team that has won at least 95 games each of past five seasons and has missed the playoffs only once in the past 18 seasons.
Despite fielding a lineup with an average age of 32.7, the oldest in team history, the Yankees finished second in the majors with 804 runs last season. They did that with lead-off man Brett Gardner missing nearly the entire season with an elbow injury.
There are better pitching staffs in baseball, but the Yankees still have a solid group of arms led by ace CC Sabathia. The Yankees did well to re-sign 16-game winner Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte.
What they Yankees lack on the mound, they often make up for with defense. They are arguably the best defensive team in the division. Derek Jeter and Kevin Youkilis don’t have the range they once had, but the right side of the infield is top notch with Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira. Outfielders Gardner and Curtis Granderson have great range.
Francisco Cervelli (catcher) – With Russell Martin now in Pittsburgh, the Yankees are looking for Cervelli or Austin Romine to step up and fill the void. Chris Stewart is in the mix as well but doesn’t provide much offense. Whoever hits will likely see the most games. Don’t be surprised if New York shops for a stopgap while power-hitting prospect Gary Sanchez is being groomed in the minors.
Mark Teixeira (first base) – Teixeira is outstanding in the field and is coming off another solid year at the plate. He blasted 24 home runs and had 84 RBIs in 123 games.
Robinson Cano (second base) – Cano showed why he is one of the best second baseman in baseball by hitting .313 with 33 home runs and 94 RBIs in 2012.
Kevin Youkilis (third base) – Youks is a nice pickup for the Yankees since Alex Rodriguez will be out at least until after the All-Star Break with a hip injury. The guy gets on base with regularity and hit 19 home runs and added 60 RBIs between Boston and the Chicago White Sox last season.
Derek Jeter (shortstop) – Jeter has lost a step but is still a high-quality player. He batted .316 last season and had 216 hits, 15 round trippers and 58 RBIs.
Brett Gardner (left field) – New York missed his speed at the top of the order last year. He had 47 and 49 steals, respectively, in 2010 and 2011.
Curtis Granderson (center field) – Granderson has been a major part of New York’s recent success. He has had at least 41 home runs and 106 RBIs the past two seasons.
Ichiro Suzuki (right field) – Ichiro didn’t disappoint after coming over from Seattle, batting .322 in 67 games.
Travis Hafner (designated hitter) – Hafner’s best days are behind him, but he still have the ability to give New York a lift while A-Rod is out. He has averaged 13.5 home runs and 47.5 RBIs the last four seasons.
CC Sabathia (LHP) – The workhorse has logged at least 200 innings, won at least 15 games and struck out at least 197 batters through his first four seasons with the Yankees.
Hiroki Kuroda (RHP) – Kuroda made a big splash in his first season in the Big Apple. He went 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA while logging 219.2 innings.
Andy Pettitte (LHP) – Pettitte came back to the Yankees last season and pitched well. He posted a tidy 2.87 ERA in 12 starts.
Phil Hughes (RHP) – Hughes is coming off his best season as a pro. He went 16-13 with a 4.19 ERA in 191.1 innings of work.
Ivan Nova (RHP) – Nova wasn’t able to match the success he had in 2011 when he went 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA, but he still won 12 games despite a 5.02 ERA.
2nd Place Al East – The Yankees have won back-to-back division titles and will challenge for another one in 2013. However, I ultimately have them coming up short. The Toronto Blue Jays look like the team to beat after adding R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera.
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