The New York Yankees come into 2015 as a team without an identity. Their long time captain, Derek Jeter has retired and with him goes the old Yankee dynasty. The Yankees did add some players in the offseason, as they acquired Andrew Miller, Justin Wilson, and David Carpenter, who will be used to fortify the bullpen and possibly mimic the success of 2014 Kansas City Royals. Jeter’s replacement will be a young, light hitting shortstop in Didi Gregorius. The Yankees also see the return of former MVP Alex Rodriguez, as he comes back from a season long suspension. He will battle both Chase Headley and Garrett Jones for at bats at both the DH and third base position. Carlos Beltran comes back healthy after an injury riddled season, and Brian McCann looks to build on a successful second half of the season in pinstripes. The Yankees have a realistic shot at a deep playoff run, as both the division and the league have become weaker. The 2015 Yankees are truly a “sleeper.”
The Yankees lineup is very balanced and could be a force to be reckoned with. Speedsters Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury strike fear into opposing catchers and pitchers, as the two combined for 60 stolen bases. The 31 year olds also cover A LOT of ground in the outfield, as they are both Gold Glove caliber outfielders. The three through seven slots can be mixed and matched, but the names Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Chase Headley all seem like excellent options for any slot in this lineup up. Teixeira and Beltran come into 2015 healthy while A-Rod returns from a season long suspension hungry to prove all of his doubters wrong. Also, Brian McCann and Chase Headley will both look to continue the strides they made in the second half of 2014. The two spots in the lineup will be filled with the middle infielders, Gregorius and Drew but they are not to be laughed at. These two players have an average of .318 OBP (On Base Percentage) which gives manager Joe Girardi confidence in late game rallies. This Yankees starting lineup, with the bench players ready to fill in, can become a force in the highly competitive AL East.
The pitching staff on this team is also very talented and could become a top staff. Yes, Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, and CC Sabathia will be coming back from injuries, but when healthy these pitchers all have front of the rotation stuff. Sabathia is the key name in this equation. He will look to channel his inner Brandon McCarthy, as the Yankees will ask him to throw his newly improved cutter. Sabathia learned the cutter from a lefty with one of the best cutters in history, Andy Pettitte. Another name to look at is Michael Pineda who will have a HUGE chip on his 6’7 shoulder after a season riddled with injuries and conspiracies. The Dominican product was accused and later suspended for illegal use of pine tar. Pineda has a live fastball, as he can touch 100+ mph consistently. His use of his change up will be key because if he can mix his blistering fastball with a knee locking changeup, he could be Cy Young Award material. Ivan Nova will miss time as he recovers from Tommy John Surgery, but his “replacement” may be the next great Rothschild product. Acquired in the offseason in a trade that sent Martin Prado to Miami, Nathan Eovaldi will look to make a name for himself and his 100 mph fastball in New York. Eovaldi is young and will eat a good amount of innings, but he shows that the future along with the present are bright in the Bronx.
The New York Yankees have been the class of Major League Baseball and North American sports since their inception in 1903 and in their 112th year a return to greatness is very plausible. The AL East is no longer the powerhouse division it was, as 87+ games will most likely decide who wins the division. If the Yankees don’t win the division, then one of the two wild card spots will be open but may be difficult to attain. Teams like the Seattle Mariners, Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim may all qualify before the Yankees. Fear not Yankees fans, as this team is deep, healthy, and seasoned. The Yankees have a perfect combination of speed and power along with youth and experience, which keeps the team balanced. If the pieces stay healthy and another top player is added by the trade deadline, expect the Yankees to make a deep run in the playoffs.