Yes, Derek Jeter will get nice things and a collection of claps everywhere he goes this year, but as he said after the Yankees’ home opener, it’s going to be completely different than Mariano Rivera’s. Jeter will have to come to the plate just minutes after each pre-game ceremony, assuming he stays in the two-spot in the Yankees lineup.
It will be something to look out for this year, since Jeter is usually not one to get caught up in the moment and show emotions. That said, we’ve never seen him faced with retirement before.
Jeter’s final year will also see him play maybe his most questionable defense in his career, with his already average range declining over the years. That’ll come alongside an injury prone right side of the infield of Brian Roberts and Mark Texeira along with young infield depth.
Simply put, this is not your 2009 New York Yankees infield, or your 2009 Derek Jeter.
The Yankees are encouraged by the addition of Jacoby Ellsbury (and his recent hot streak), a catcher to hold down the fort for a few years in McCann, and the veteran power bats of Beltran and Soriano. What they are most encouraged by, however, is an abundance of arms.
Masahiro Tanaka has the potential to become a Yu Darvish-type, which would mean he’s a Cy Young candidate. Michael Pineda’s showing signs of what made him an All-Star in his rookie year in Seattle. CC Sabathia was once the most solidified part of the staff, and now anything he gives the rotation is pretty much gravy. The Yankees should have four sturdy starters in Kuroda, Tanaka, Nova and Pineda. I know the latter two sound like question marks, but they’ve shown in the past they are ready for this type of role.
Matt Thornton is a really intriguing pickup. His BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) numbers last year against righties last year, as well as the amount of line drives he gave up, give you enough confidence to write off a .333 Batting Average against as an outlier. He can pitch to either side of the plate and might emerge as the eighth inning guy behind David Robertson.
In short, there is a lot to be confident about in the Yankees, but there’s hardly any similarity to teams of the past few years. They’ll have to overcome a shaky infield and play well enough to surpass teams like Tampa Bay, Boston, Los Angeles, and Texas for playoff positioning.
— Kenny Ducey
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