The Yankees surprised everyone by not signing any of the big free agents available in this year’s crop of players. Going into the off-season, starting pitching was the biggest question mark facing this team. By not over-spending on a starting pitcher in the off-season, the Yankees turned to trade, trading prized catching prospect Jesus Montero to Seattle for young, promising starting pitcher Michael Pineda.
The acquisition of Pineda, a hard throwing righty, will take some heat off ace C.C.Sabathia. Filling out the rotation will be Ivan Nova, a hopefully healthy Phil Hughes, and free-agent signing Hiroki Kuroda. This group is an upgrade over last year’s staff. In case any of these pitchers becomes injured or struggles, last year’s surprise Freddy Garcia will fill the void.
The bullpen will once again be the strength of the Yankees. With Mariano Rivera closing, and David Robertson and Rafael Soriano setting up, the Yankees can make games six innings. Boone Logan is a solid left-handed specialist. The wild card on the staff is Joba Chamberlain, who is due back around the All-Star break from Tommy John Surgery. When healthy and in control, Chamberlain is a great asset for the Yankees, who can overpower hitters with his fastball that regularly reaches 98 miles per hour.
Offense has never been a problem for the Bronx Bombers, and this year should be no different. The usual suspects are back for the Yankees for the 2012 version of murder’s row: Gardner, Jeter, Granderson, Cano, Rodriguez, Teixeira, Swisher. The Yankees also have brought back Eric Chavez as a bench player and brought in Raul Ibanez to be a back-up outfielder and provide a left-handed power bat off the bench. Andruw Jones also returns for another season, and is a favourite among the players and coaches.
The one weakness for the Yankees is the catching position, in lieu of the retirement of Jorge Posada. For now, Russell Martin is the starter and calls a good game and provides good defense, but has limited offensive ability. An injury to him and the Yankees will turn to no-hit catcher Francisco Cervelli.
For years, the Yankees have been billed as always paying for their players and not developing their own. But they did not spend a lot the past few years and a look at their roster shows many home-grown players: Gardner, Cano, Jeter, Rivera, Hughes, Robertson, and Chamberlain.
The mix of home-grown and free agents have served the Yankees well the past 13 years, making the playoffs in 12 of those and winning the World Series in 2009. Another year of post-season play in the Bronx looks to be in the cards this year, and a World Series title would be a fitting way to end the legendary Mariano Rivera’s career.