Its impossible to predict what is to come in the world of Major League Baseball, but everyone always tries anyway. So I guess as a Yankees blog writer, its my turn to take the hot seat and throw all my thoughts out there. So, as far as the unpredictable goes, I am going to guess the unpredictable. Either I’ll be close or way off, but regardless, its still fun to imagine I control the outcome of the entire 2015 Yankees season.
Yankees fans, we are certainly in for a rebuilding year. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but we’ll have to wait and see. With a lackluster off-season filled with less-than-stellar contract signings and the media buzzing around A-Rod’s return, the focus wasn’t on the team but on what A-Rod would do.
Signing grade: B
Here’s why…they didn’t target the big-name players like they normally did, but went about their process a little differently. They targeted younger players to help groom them into the New York spotlight. Didi Gregorious was picked up for his range and defensive capabilities. Overall, a great pick-up…if he can manage to get on base. Other impressive choices were Eovaldi at pitcher and Garrett Jones as a solid back-up first baseman. All young players, but the issue is they have no proof of their skill in the majors. There are no stats to back them up and they have to prove themselves, which is the only problem with signing young players. I have a good feeling that Greogrious and Eovaldi can prove themselves as valuable pick-ups, but that is something that needs to be looked at throughout the season.
Brett Gardner: LF
-I love Brett Gardner. He is a quiet and strong leader. But I’m worried about his performance this season. He is the type of hitter that is either on fire or completely lost. He had a couple of spurts in the 2014 season, which resulted in his career-high finish in home runs, but he has started out 2015 spring training with a quiet performance. That being said, once the Yanks hit the ground running on the regular season, Gardner will come out of his shell, knowing that the Yanks will need a leader. My prediction…he’ll have a slightly depressing start and pick up during mid-late May to finish with a solid .286 average.
Jacoby Ellsbury: CF
-He’s already hurt…and that was the danger in signing him to seven year deal last season. But, I still think he has the ability to make a difference in the squad. Being a solid veteran player, I think he’ll step up as a leader, but will fall behind on his numbers. This might be the season where he starts to struggle physically with injuries weighing him down. I think he’ll log in 100-105 games this season and work with a .266 batting average with 20 homers. I hope it’ll be better, but I have a feeling this will be an injury-plagued season.
Carlos Beltran: IN RIGHT FIELD?
-So he obviously will not get a start every day in the field, but he’ll most likely have to play more with A-Rod securing the DH spot. Playing both the field and working at the dish, his production will go down because of the split focus. I think he’ll bring up a .245 average and if he can find that groove with the short porch in right, he’ll easily surpass 35 homers.
Alex Rodriguez: 3B, DH
– Now here comes the controversial player. The player I can’t help but root for, praying for a miraculous comeback just because of all the crap the media has put him through (for good reason, honestly, but still). He’ll have a mediocre season by our standards, but it will still be a good comeback for him. I’m banking on a .278 batting average with less-than-normal number of homers (probably around 25) and a decent amount of RBIs by league standard (78). His fielding might be a different story, because we don’t know how often that will happen, but I think he’ll be solid in the field, losing a lot of his range from his younger days.
Chase Headley: 3B
-Headley is one of the hottest pick-ups the Yankees gained this off-season and he is going to have one hell of a season all around. He proved himself with the glove last year and he’ll continue to dominate the hot corner this year. Plus, he’s already been one of their hottest hitters in spring training and will continue that trend throughout the regular season. He’ll have cooling off period during May, but he’ll be solid throughout the whole season, landing an impressive .292 batting average with an above-average 95 RBIs.
Didi Gregorious: SS
– Didi will be the blessing the Yankees needed to take over shortstop for Derek Jeter in the field, but will struggle at the plate. He’s still young and hasn’t had time to fully develop at the plate, so this will be a season to work on his fundamentals at the plate and get comfortable in the NY spotlight. His defense will be stellar though and will earn him a Gold Glove for the season, providing range, quickness and arm strength that we haven’t seen in a while. Plus, once he gets on base, he’ll take the lead of Brett Gardner and steal several bases (plus, having the 1-2 punch of Gregorious and the lethal Gardner will cause problems on the basepaths for opponents).
Mark Texiera: 1B, DH
-Tex is coming off a strong off-season where he has worked to improve his own health and I think he’ll have an impressive bounde-back season. With several injuries keeping him off the field for the 2014 season, Tex will be cautious, but will ultimately play the majority of the games this season. He’ll find a groove at the plate, but will find his normal pattern of staying cool early and heating up as the weather does. His best months are generally June and July, and that will be the case this season as well. He’ll finish around .267 with a solid 30 homer season once again.
Brian McCann: C
-McCann has to step up this year. After a lackluster season in 2014 and the loss of Jeter, he will need to step into the veteran leader role in order to help provide a little bit of calm to the chaos that is the Jeter-less Yanks. Last year he finished at .232 and was not what we expected…but this season he’ll be fitting into a new role and that will help him work a little harder at the plate. I expect a decent .259 from him but not much more. He will be more of an asset behind the plate than he is at it, helping younger pitchers find their groove and comfort from his smart pitch-calling.
Who plays second? Nobody even really knows, to be honest.
But for starting pitching, I expect big seasons out of Pineda and Tanaka in the starting role and hopefully Capuano, if he can get his injuries straightened out. They will be the top three, with CC struggling to make it back from knee issues and pitching with a new contraption on his leg. Kuroda will have a tough time starting out, but I believe he will make a great number four starter as the season rolls along. But we’ll be seeing who locks in that number 5 spots between Capuano, Eovaldi and Esmil Rodgers.
The bullpen promises for a stronger season, with the returning dynamo Betances and veteran Adam Warren and the big off-season aquisition of the seasoned Andrew Miller. They’ve had several middle-inning crews in the past, but now they’ll have a solid 8th and 9th inning duo (still not sure what order yet) that can help reign in late game victories.
So, all being said, I would love to predict a 3rd place finish in the AL East. With the Red Sox pumping up their offense and the Rays finally turning around from a disppointing year last season, the Yankees will face some stiff competition, but with the good balance of seasoned veterans and talented rookies, they should be able to overcome the challenges they face, providing that their veterans can take on a teaching role.
Let’s go Yankees!! 16 days until Opening Day! And you can bet I’ll be waiting by the television, rally towel in hand.