The Yankees learned an expensive lesson last season, one that cost them a postseason spot last October and millions of dollars this winter: Young pitching is great, three years from now. The Yankees went from a young pitching model to a staff of big-dollar veterans, blowing away the world in effort to get back to the playoffs.
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Generation Trey might only slot Joba Chamberlain in the major leagues now. Phil Hughes is likely ticketed back to Triple-A, while Ian Kennedy isn't even in the conversation of late. It certainly is nice depth to have.
It is sorely needed, as is the innings-eating of CC Sabathia, the richest pitcher in baseball history. Hopefully, he doesn't eat himself to the DL, which is where he used to frequent before a couple of complete seasons leading up to free agency. That would hurt Fantasy owners more than it would the Yankees, who have the depth to overcome some losses for once in a long while. Sabathia is arguably the No. 1 pitcher to target on Draft Day.
Chamberlain will be "competing" against Hughes, Kennedy and company for the final rotation spot, but really he is just competing against the split desire to keep him as a lock-down setup man. The fact that manager Joe Girardi piece-mealed one of the best rotations in baseball certainly helps Chamberlain's case to finally remain in one role.
The position battle to watch is in the outfield, where Nick Swisher hopes to slug his way into at-bats, while Xavier Nady, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui (at DH) likely deserve near full-time duty as well. Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner are the better defensive center fielders, but Swisher was holding down that role last season for a team that actually made the postseason, while the former duo failed to impress.
A lot of spending -- oh, did we fail to mention Mark Teixeira is now in the middle of the order? -- keeps the Yankees as one of the most loaded teams to target for Fantasy options on Draft Day, but it has been said for years and only Alex Rodriguez and the ageless Mariano Rivera seem to actually make good on their draft position.
Sleeper: Phil Hughes, SP
Chamberlain gets all the pub and has made the more immediate splash, but it is still our belief that Hughes is the better long-term pitching prospect. If Hughes can pitch the way he is capable this spring, the Yankees will be an even stronger team than they look like on paper. That would allow Chamberlain to spend the entire season as Rivera's setup man and really shorten the game for a rotation that is paid not to need much bullpen help. Hughes is a real deep sleeper because the notion remains Chamberlain has to be a starter and left alone going into spring training. Remember, the same was once said of one Jonathan Papelbon.
Bust: Derek Jeter, SS
Have you heard us mention before that shortstop is a kid's position? Also, have you ever heard Jeter's name make it through Round 5 on Draft Day? Jeter remains a tremendous leader, a huge name and a steady option at a thin position, but there is no way on God's green earth he makes it to a round where his numbers can actually outperform his draft position in any league. We won't have the guts (stupidity) to project a complete fall off for the future Hall of Famer, but we have no hestitation in saying Jeter's juice won't be worth the squeeze once again this season. It has been this way for years, but name recognition keeps him all too close to the new big three of Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins. If you find yourself staring at Jeter's name after the earliest rounds on Draft Day, pick the younger Stephen Drew or look at a another position that early.
Breakout: Joba Chamberlain, SP
We are not afraid to say it: Chamberlain hasn't done much for Fantasy owners yet. He has been great for fans and the Yankees in a setup role, but Fantasy owners haven't yet gotten enough value out of the guy we called the most overowned player last May. He will be picked among the top 25 Fantasy starting pitchers on Draft Day, having won just six games in his career. Six! Sure, buying wins is notoriously bad form in Fantasy, but you do need results, no? Assuming Chamberlain remains in the rotation for a full season, you should finally get them. He truly is a potential top 10 Fantasy starter as early as this season, even if we do think Hughes is the better long-term prospect.
| ||Pos.|| |
|1||Johnny Damon||LF||1||CC Sabathia||LH|
|2||Derek Jeter||SS||2||A.J. Burnett||RH|
|3||Mark Teixeira||1B||3||Chien-Ming Wang||RH|
|4||Alex Rodriguez||3B||4||Andy Pettitte||LH|
|5||Hideki Matsui||DH||5||Joba Chamberlain||RH|
|6||Xavier Nady||RF||Alt||Phil Hughes||RH|
|7||Nick Swisher||CF||Top bullpen arms|
|8||Jorge Posada||C||CL||Mariano Rivera||RH|
|9||Robinson Cano||2B||SU||Damaso Marte||LH|
|Top bench options||RP||Brian Bruney||RH|
|R||Melky Cabrera||OF||RP||Phil Coke||LH|
|R||Brett Gardner||OF||RP||Edwar Ramirez||RH|
|1||Dellin Betances||21||RH SP||Low Class A||High Class A|
|Ian Kennedy and company are closer to helping, but Betances has a nice ceiling long term.|
|2||Jesus Montero||19||C||Low Class A||High Class A|
| Baseball America called him a potential |
|We have to admit the numbers don't match the hype at this point, but he could arrive this year.|
|The Yankees say Swisher won't play center, so there is a chance Gardner starts in center still.|
|5||Humberto Sanchez||25||RH SP||Majors||Triple-A|
|Elbow surgery has slowed him up, but he was once considered the next Joel Zumaya.|
|Best of the rest: SP Andrew Brackman, C Austin Romine, SP Zach McAllister, SP Alfredo Aceves, SP Phil Coke, RP Mark Melancon, 3B Bradley Suttle, SP Jeremy Bleich, SP Jairo Heredia, SP Arodys Vizcaino, SP George Kontos, SP Mike Dunn, SP Manny Banuelos, SP David Robertson, SP Christian Garcia, SP Wilkins De La Rossa, 1B Juan Miranda, RP Alan Horne, SP Brett Marshall, C Francisco Cervelli, SP D.J. Mitchell, SS Carmen Angelini and SP Anthony Claggett.|
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