Season Preview: After Two October-less Years, Can the Yankees Bounce Back?

The New York Yankees baseball season is finally upon us. After a full season of serving a suspension, Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees are ready to compete again. However this season is different than others in which this is the first season without the captain, Derek Jeter playing shortstop for the Yankees.

He was the last piece of the core four that consisted of Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Jeter. Now the Yankees start a new dynasty in the Bronx this season. Although the Yankees lost some key players from last season due to free agency and trade, they also received some key players that will help them throughout the season. Yankees fans are hungry for another playoff berth after two straight seasons of no October baseball. This season might be the beginning of something special, so here’s the 2015 New York Yankees season preview.

Projected Starting Lineup:

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, Center Field

2. Brett Gardner, Left Field

3. Carlos Beltran, Right Field

4. Mark Teixeira, First Base

5. Brian McCann, Catcher

6. Chase Headley, Third Base

7. Alex Rodriguez, Designated Hitter

8. Stephen Drew, Second Base

9. Didi Gregorius, Shortstop

Bench:

Catcher: John Ryan Murphy

Infielders: Garrett Jones, Gregorio Petit

Outfielders: Chris Young, Garrett Jones

Projected Starting Rotation

1. Masahiro Tanaka

2. Michael Pineda

3. C.C. Sabathia

4. Nathan Eovaldi

5. Adam Warren

Projected Bullpen

Relief Pitchers: David Carpenter, Chris Martin

Lefty Specialists: Justin Wilson, Chasen Shreve

Long Reliever: Esmil Rogers

Setup Man: Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances

Closer: Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances

How The Yankees Stack Up in the American League East:

The Yankees rivals, Boston Red Sox are the clear favorites in the division this season with their monstrous lineup, but could the Yankees be the runner-up? The Red Sox and Blue Jays made the biggest splashes in the off‐season by bringing All‐Star caliber players Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Josh Donaldson, and Russell Martin into the fold, but neither team was particularly close to a playoff spot in 2014.

Their pitching staffs both ranked in the bottom half of the AL last year, and neither team did much to improve them. Their fans will have to put a lot of faith into guys like Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, R.A. Dickey, and Mark Buehrle.

Meanwhile in Baltimore, the defending AL East champions saw a lot of their extra‐base‐hits fly out the door with the free agent departures of Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis. They still have players like Manny Machado and Matt Wieters that can produce offensively night in and night out. Their rotation is also very solid, led by Chris Tillman.

As for the Rays, it’s hard to be inspired by a team that no longer has David Price, Ben Zobrist, Matt Joyce, Wil Myers, or even Yunel Escobar. Although there’s probably a scenario where their young pitching staff really comes together and Evan Longoria makes the weak offense better than expected, it’s just hard to believe that they will be able to compete in the division.

The Yankees sure won’t be at the bottom of the AL East with the bullpen, outfield, and rotation being the teams’ strengths in 2015, but they won’t be at the top either with their infield being a concern.

AL East Prediction

1. Boston Red Sox

2. New York Yankees

3. Baltimore Orioles

4. Toronto Blue Jays

5. Tampa Bay Rays

How The Yankees Stack Up in the American League:

Overall, the AL East is the worst division in the American League. The AL Central and West are just too good with teams like the Angels, Mariners, and Tigers. It will be tough for the Yankees but I believe they will be a wild-card team this year and finally make it back to the playoffs.

American League Predictions:

AL East: Boston Red Sox

AL Central: Detroit Tigers

AL West: Los Angeles Angels

Wild Card 1: Seattle Mariners

Wild Card 2: New York Yankees

How The Yankees Stack Up in the MLB:

If I were to rank the Yankees in a MLB Power Rankings gig, I would rank them #15. That’s right down the middle. There are 30 teams in baseball. Only the best 10 teams make it to the playoffs in the MLB. The Yankees have an old roster lacking in overall depth, but they enter the season mostly healthy, and if they can stay that way, they could quickly move up in the standings.

That’s a big if, though, especially in the starting rotation, where Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and C.C. Sabathia are all significant question marks from a durability standpoint. That being said, the bullpen should be one of their biggest strengths, even after David Robertson walked in free agency.

The additions of Andrew Miller and Justin Wilson made their bullpen very strong. The offense is decent, but guys like Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann, and Carlos Beltran all have to have to rebound this season. The Yankees could be a division winner if luck is on their side, but this is just not the kind of roster that avoids the injury bug. A wild-card finish looks like a more realistic goal.

What To Watch For:

– Will Joe Girardi have “co-closers” over the course of the season? (Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller)

– How will Alex Rodriguez perform after sitting out for a full season?

– Will Michael Pineda emerge as the ace of the Yankees pitching staff?

– How will Carlos Beltran be able to play in right field with injury concerns?

– How will Didi Gregorius feel after taking the position of Derek Jeter and playing under the bright lights of New York?

Predictions

Anthony Farese:

The Yankees are a very difficult team to predict. They have a cast of solid players, but many seem to be past their prime and injury prone. Players like Beltran, McCann, Teixeira and Sabathia have to bounce back for New York, but it’s hard to see all of that happen. The Yankees biggest hope is that the AL East falls flat on its face, like many are predicting.

If they can get a healthy season out of Tanaka and Pineda, and bounce backs from their aging veterans, they could be a playoff team. But, I don’t see that happening. Sabathia seems like he’s a shell of his former self, Beltran is 38, Tanaka and Pineda are massive injury risks, and the infield is a huge question mark. Some pieces will fall into place, but not enough. New York will be another middling team, going 84-78 and missing the playoffs.

Best offseason signing/acquisition – Didi Gregorius

He will prove he was worth it. He’s making highlight reel plays everyday it seems, and is hitting .300 in spring training. While it isn’t always a wise idea to look into spring training statistics, it’s still promising.

Yankees Cy Young – Michael Pineda

He’s been battling injuries for four years now, but has looked dominant in short stints. He will stay healthy this season, and finally prove he can be the Yankees ace of the future.

Yankees MVP – Brian McCann

After an up and down first year with New York, McCann is primed for a bounce-back season. He is an outstanding fielding catcher, and he calls games exceptionally well. He also began to hit much better in the second half of last season after hitting a lowly .220 the first half, then raising it to .249. Expect McCann to have a solid season, more like the player we expected to see.

Yankees Rookie Of The Year – Rob Refsnyder

He will be called up at some point this season, and he will be solid. While his fielding is questionable, he’s a natural hitter and should bring a nice pop to the Yankees lineup.

Final Record 84-78


Skylar Darel:

The Yankees are certainly undergoing an identity crisis, and 2015 should be the pinnacle of the teams transition. With no true superstar, many concerns across the diamond, and no remnants of the Core Four (and very little of the 2009 Championship Team), the Yankees have more questions than answers to start the season.

Best offseason signing/acquisition – Andrew Miller

One of the best setup men in the game. While the Yankees offense and rotation is shaky, fans can be confident that going into the eighth inning with a lead gives the squad a very good chance at victory.

Yankees Cy Young – Dellin Betances

I simply cannot trust Masahiro Tanaka’s health, nor Michael Pineda’s. While closing can be seen as a daunting task, Betances was simply unbelievable a season ago. He isn’t the next Mariano Rivera, but the next David Robertson? Don’t count against it.

Yankees MVP – Chase Headley

If the Yankees have any shot of contending, they’ll need to get the punch back in their offense. Headley showed signs of stellar form after coming over from the San Diego Padres in a midseason trade, and is now the go-to guy at third base. McCann, Teixeira, and Beltran all struggled with inconsistencies a season ago. The Yankees will need Headley to come good for them, and I believe he will.

Yankees Rookie Of The Year – Rob Refsnyder

Refsnyder hit .318 in the minors last year, and drove in 63 runs. While he probably won’t duplicate that in the bigs, don’t be shocked if he has locked down the starting second base gig by seasons end.

Final Record 80-82


Jobin Matthew:

They may not have supreme talent available, but the Yankees will definitely play well enough to compete for the AL Wild Card.

Best signing/acquisition – No signing or acquisition!

They didn’t pull the trigger on Max Scherzer, which is very unlike the Evil Empire and none of the offseason acquisitions are convincing enough for me to give them this award.

Yankees Cy Young – Masahiro Tanaka

With a full, healthy season, Tanaka will dominate on the Yankees and in the majors just like last season.

Yankees MVP – Jacoby Ellsbury

With a solid season under his belt, look for Ellsbury to explode, if healthy, as the best player on the team.

Yankees Rookie Of The Year – Luis Severino

His monster arm will be a great addition to the Yankees bullpen if he gets called up. He would be one of the many talented young arms in the Yankees arsenal.

Final record 89-73


 Projected Record: 86-76

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