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2011 Fantasy outlooks: New York Yankees

Michael Hurcomb
Fantasy Writer
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The "Empire" looks to strike back in 2011. The "Evil Empire" that is.

The New York Yankees, arguably the most-loved and most-hated sports franchise, failed to repeat as World Series champions in 2010, seeing their hopes for a 28th title end in the ALCS against the Rangers. The road back to the World Series won't get any easier in 2011, especially with New York's hated rival -- the Boston Red Sox -- loading up on marquee names in the offseason.

The Red Sox did what the Yankees normally do -- throw money at their problems. Only this offseason, no one wanted to take the Yankees' tender. Cliff Lee passed and booked a flight to Philadelphia. Andy Pettitte made the decision that $12 million for one season wasn't enough to postpone retirement. And the Yankees' biggest offseason acquisition -- outside of re-signing Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera -- was acquiring setup man Rafael Soriano, who was forced down general manager Brian Cashman's throat by team ownership.

The Yankees did sign names like Mark Prior, Russell Martin, Eric Chavez, Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia, but all past their prime. Don't be fooled by the monikers.

Despite a relatively quiet offseason by Yankees' standards, the team is still loaded heading into '11. New York is still going to have one of the best lineups in baseball, anchored by Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano.

The biggest concern for New York is in its rotation. Outside of CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes, it's going to be a crapshoot. Will new pitching coach Larry Rothschild solve A.J. Burnett's woes? Is Ivan Nova ready to handle the rigors of pitching on the league's biggest stage? Can New York get by with the likes of Garcia or Sergio Mitre at the back end of the rotation and contend without having to dip into its farm system?

Another issue this season could be durability. Come opening day, the Yankees could have just three starting position players -- Brett Gardner, Cano and Martin -- and potentially two starting pitchers -- Nova and Hughes -- under 30 years old.

The Yankees don't rebuild. They re-stock. Only the inventory is getting a little old and the competition is stacking up.

Bounce-back player ... Jorge Posada, DH

Posada gets too beat up these days to catch on a regular basis. The Yankees solution is to stick the 16-year vet at designated hitter. This is a move Fantasy owners should welcome for '11. Posada will retain his catcher eligibility in Fantasy while reducing his chances of getting injured and improving his opportunities to keep his potent bat in the lineup. Posada's 57 RBI and .248 average in 120 games last season were a bit disappointing, but he still accumulated 18 homers, 23 doubles and a .454 slugging percentage. Those numbers are attractive for a thin Fantasy position like catcher. It's also worth noting that Posada totaled four homers, five doubles and 14 RBI in 30 games at DH last season.

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Sleeper ... Ivan Nova, SP

No matter how little experience or success a pitcher might have, if they are a starter for the Yankees, then they are going to garner recognition in Fantasy circles. The latest example is Nova. The undrafted free agent got his first taste of the majors last season, going 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in seven starts. He was a little erratic (walking 14 in 36 2/3 innings) and was prone to the long ball (one homer for every nine hits he surrendered) in starts, but those are things he can easily correct with time. It's the upside that makes Nova intriguing for Fantasy purposes. He had his best year in the minors in '10, going 12-3 with a 2.86 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 23 Triple-A starts. Nova isn't an elite strikeout pitcher just yet and Fantasy owners are probably more intrigued with his win-potential at this stage in his career. But he is a favorite to land a spot in the Yankees' rotation and that makes him a late-round Fantasy sleeper in deeper formats.

Can't-miss prospect ... Jesus Montero, C

Montero is on the cusp of making his MLB debut, which is likely to happen this year. The Yankees are going to start the year with Martin and Francisco Cervelli handling most of the catching duties, but neither player has the upside that Montero possesses. The only major concern for New York is whether he can handle the defensive responsibilities for a team in a pennant race. Montero is probably going to be eased into the starting role, but now is the best time to bring him to the majors so he can work with Posada, who has an expiring contract and can impart wisdom on the team's top prospect before he leaves. While his defense is a work in progress, offense has never been an issue for Montero. He is a .314 hitter in the minors with 58 homers, 99 doubles and 251 RBI in 380 games. He hit .351 with 14 homers in the second half last season at Triple-A, so he appears ready for the majors.

New York Yankees Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Derek Jeter SS 1 CC Sabathia LH
2 Nick Swisher RF 2 Phil Hughes RH
3 Mark Teixeira 1B 3 A.J. Burnett RH
4 Alex Rodriguez 3B 4 Ivan Nova RH
5 Robinson Cano 2B 5 Freddy Garcia RH
6 Jorge Posada DH Alt Sergio Mitre RH
7 Curtis Granderson CF
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Russell Martin C CL Mariano Rivera RH
9 Brett Gardner LF SU Rafael Soriano RH
Top bench options RP Joba Chamberlain RH
R Francisco Cervelli C RP David Robertson RH
R Andruw Jones OF RP Pedro Feliciano LH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2010 high Destination
1 Jesus Montero 21 C Triple-A Triple-A
Montero leads the list of Yankees' top-catching prospects and is a Fantasy star in the making.
2 Gary Sanchez 18 C Class A Class A
Potential is probably highest in Yanks' system, but he is still very raw at 18 years old.
3 Dellin Betances 22 SP Double-A Double-A
Returned from elbow surgery last year throwing mid-90s heat. Has frontline rotation potential.
4 Manuel Banuelos 19 SP Double-A Double-A
Promising lefty prospect who has fanned 9.5 batters per nine innings in the minors.
5 Andrew Brackman 25 SP Double-A Triple-A
Former first-rounder and Tommy John survivor who is finally developing and tapping into potential.
Best of the rest: Hector Noesi, SP; Austin Romine, C; Slade Heathcott, OF; Eduardo Nunez, INF; Brandon Laird, 3B; Adam Warren, SP; Graham Stoneburner, SP; David Phelps, SP; David Adams, 2B; J.R. Murphy, C; Corban Joseph, 2B; Cito Culver, SS; Brett Marshall, SP; Angelo Gumbs, OF; Jeremy Bleich, SP.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can e-mail us your Fantasy Baseball questions to DMFantasyBaseball@cbs.com . Be sure to put Team outlooks in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state.

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Player News
Mariners already have D.J. Peterson on radar for 2015 season
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:48 pm ET) The Mariners are expected to be in the market this offseason for a right-handed power bat, but if they can't find an external option, then an internal option could be prospect D.J. Peterson, according to The News Tribune.

"His age and experience might be working against him," general manager Jack Zduriencik said, "but this is also a pretty good hitter. You don’t shut the door on it. You leave it open and see what he does.

"Coming out of Double-A to the big leagues is challenging, but he’s going to be in the Fall League. There are a lot of people who’ve been around him who think this guy is the real deal. We’ll bring him into spring training. He’ll get a fair shot. What happens, happens."

Peterson has primarily played third base in the minors, but he is expected to see significant time at first base in the Arizona Fall League. With Kyle Seager blocking his path at third base, Peterson's fastest route to the majors could be first base.

"I played a lot of first base in college," Peterson said. "It’s a position that I’m acquainted with. I’m very used to it. It wouldn’t be too much of an adjustment."


Marlins SP Jose Fernandez makes 25 tosses from 30 feet
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:19 pm ET) Marlins starting pitcher Jose Fernandez, who is coming off Tommy John surgery in May, made 25 throws from 30 feet Wednesday. He reported feeling good after the throwing session.

Cardinals announce rotation for NLDS
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:03 pm ET) Cardinals manager Mike Matheny announced the team's rotation for NLDS against the Dodgers. Adam Wainwright will pitch in the series opener, and he will be followed by Lance Lynn, John Lackey and Shelby Miller.

Michael Wacha will be pitching out of the bullpen for St. Louis.


Phillies' Cliff Lee to begin full throwing program in November
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:16 pm ET) The Phillies announced Wednesday starting pitcher Cliff Lee had an MRI on his left elbow Friday. The MRI showed Lee's flexor tendon is healing well.

Lee, who missed the final two months of the season due to a Grade 2 flexor pronator strain, will begin a full throwing program in November and is expected to be ready for spring training.


Phillies OF Ben Revere undergoes surgery to remove screws from ankle
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:12 pm ET) The Phillies announced Wednesday outfielder Ben Revere had surgery Tuesday to remove screws from his right ankle. Revere will be in a walking boot for about two weeks, but he is expected to be ready for the start of spring training.

Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz undergoes minor shoulder surgery
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:10 pm ET) The Phillies announced Wednesday catcher Carlos Ruiz underwent minor arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder Monday. Ruiz will begin rehabbing the injury immediately and will return to Philadelphia in November for a follow-up exam.

The Phillies are expecting Ruiz to be ready for the start of spring training.


Franklin Gutierrez expressing interest in returning in 2015
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:31 am ET) Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, who spent the 2014 season on the restricted list due to health reasons, has expressed interest in returning in 2015, according to MLB.com.

"He’s in Florida, working out. He has some interest in coming back next year. We’re going to talk to him and we’ll see what happens," general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "He left in a good frame of mind. We’ll have to see where it’s at, but he’s spoken to our guys more than once about his desire in coming back next year. It would be as a non-roster player."


Mariners' James Paxton will not throw competitively during offseason
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:24 am ET) Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said starting pitcher James Paxton will not throw competitively during the offseason, according to MLB.com. Paxton was limited to 13 starts this season due to a lat injury.

Mariners SP Taijuan Walker to make a few appearances in AFL
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:21 am ET) Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said starting pitcher Taijuan Walker will throw a few times in the Arizona Fall League, according to MLB.com. Walker split time between the minors and majors in 2014, going 2-3 with a 2.61 ERA in eight appearances (five starts) for Seattle.

Mariners SP Roenis Elias moves past elbow soreness
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:12 am ET) Mariners starting pitcher Roenis Elias is doing well after being shut down late in the season due to elbow soreness, according to MLB.com. Elias intends to spend the offseason at his home in Texas and resume his normal throwing program before he reports to camp in the spring.

 
 
 
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