By Eric Katz
Lots of Yankee fans can agree that the 2013 season was a disaster for the team. Lots of the core players had injury plagued seasons. This included key players like Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, and Mark Teixeira.
They had role players and platoon players start for them for most of the season. Because of the injuries to the pitching staff they were forced to use 18 different pitchers.
Also, because of the suspension of Francisco Cervelli they were forced to have a platoon system at catcher. That season they used a season high 26 different position players. They then missed the postseason for the first time since 2008.
The Yankees of 2014 should be a way different story for this year. To avoid having a repeat of last year General Manager Brian Cashman made lots of noise this offseason.
On November 1st, he resigned short stop Derek Jeter to a one year $12 million.
Also just in case Jeter was to get hurt they resigned Brendan Ryan. But that wasn’t the biggest splash they made this offseason. They went out and signed former Atlanta Braves star catcher Brian McCann to a five year $85 million contract.
After the Yankees filled the hole at the catcher position they decided to make another splash.
They signed former Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven year $153 million contract. This deal also contained an option for the year 2021. This occurred just hours after they signed Brian McCann.
This should give the Yankees a one two punch in the line up with the speed both him and Brett Gardner have. They also, resigned Gardner to a four year $52 million contract despite trade rumors.
His contract includes an option for 2019. Resigning Hiroki Kuroda was a good choice because he was their most consistent pitcher last year. Despite having very little offense to work with he did a good job despite his 11-13 record.
On the same day of resigning Kuroda the Yankees made another big splash by signing Carlos Beltran to a three year $45 million deal.
This adds another key bat to the already loaded Yankee line up. Expect more home runs to be seen in the 2014 season.
The bullpen has been the Yankees Achilles heal for awhile now and this offseason they finally did something about it.
Cashman decided to sign former Red Sox pitcher Matt Thornton to a two year $7.5 million contract.
On January 14th, the Yankees signed former Orioles star Brian Roberts to fill the void left at second base left by Robinson Cano who signed with the Mariners. But Yankees weren’t done making giving out huge deals to star players.
On January 22nd, they signed highly praised Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to a 7 year $155 million deal. Tanaka was a star in Japan and having him is a huge boost to the pitching staff. Despite the big offseason the Yankees had some key loses to their team.
Outfielder Curtis Granderson signed with the Mets in the offseason but that shouldn’t hurt the Yankees very much. But the loss of Robinson Cano is huge because he was their best hitter and fielder last year.
He led the team in batting average, run scored, home runs, and RBI. Brian Roberts can only do so much to fill the hole Cano left.
I think the Yankees are going to feel that void early on in the season. Third baseman Alex Rodriguez was suspended for steroid use for all of the 2014 season.
The Yankees signed utility man Kelly Johnson to a one year deal but Johnson isn’t even close to matching what A-Rod brings to the team.
During the offseason star closer Mariano Rivera retired.
Rivera left baseball as the all time saves leader. David Robertson is supposed to take over for Rivera but he has some big shoes to fill. Not seeing Rivera jog out of the bullpen is going to be tough on both fans and the players.
But Robertson has been the set up man for Rivera for six year and has experience closing games. It will be an adjustment for him but he should be able to do a good job.
This season also is the last year for short stop and Captain Derek Jeter. Jeter has been a core part of the team for a long time and he announced in February that this would be his last year.
Jeter turns 40 in June and is coming off an injury filled 2014 season. If Jeter can be back to full strength the Yankees should have no problem winning more games than they did last year.
My final prediction is the Yankees should be able to win the American League East this year. They have improved so much but their key is they must stay healthy in order to make that happen.
Last year’s injuries showed the Yankees are aging but this year they are hungry enough to make a deep run to the postseason.