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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
Peter Moylan 'doing fantastic' in return from Tommy John
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:42 pm ET) Free-agent pitcher Peter Moylan indicated Friday that he's "doing fantastic" in his return from his second Tommy John surgery, the Houston Chronicle reports.

"I’m doing fantastic, mate. Dropped 35 pounds," Moylan said. “My goal is to be 100 percent by end of spring. Ball is coming out great, though. Probably have to throw for some teams right around the start of spring to gauge interest, but there have already been some nibbles, which is encouraging."

Moylan underwent the procedure last March after receiving a non-roster invitation from the Astros. He's throwing from about 70 percent strength off a mound and in the process of deciding whether to sign a a deal in the near future or after the season begins. He hopes to resume pitching in the big leagues by midseason at the earliest.

Moylan has made 309 appearances since debuting in 2006, compiling a 21-9 record, 2.80 ERA and 213:121 K:BB ratio in 276 innings.


Braves' Shelby Miller: Sinker is 'going to take me to the next level'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:42 pm ET) Braves starting pitcher Shelby Miller had an up-and-down season with the Cardinals in 2014. He began the season by going 6-2 with a 2.79 ERA before going 2-7 with a 5.11 ERA over his next 16 appearances (15 starts).

Miller, however, was able to finish the season on a high note, going 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and .190 opponents' batting average over his final seven starts. Miller attributes his success down the stretch to incorporating a sinker into his repertoire, per FOX Sports South.

"I said I'm going to throw some of these, and we'll see where it's at," Miller said of a conversation he had with catcher A.J. Pierzynski before an Aug. 23 start against the Phillies. "It felt good so we just went with it. I started throwing it literally within three days. It's a good pitch that I picked up quick.

"I still need a lot of work with it. I need a lot of work with all my pitches. There's all sorts of ways to get better. But I think that's definitely a pitch that will help me be more efficient and take me deeper into games. That's [the sinker] going to be a huge pitch for me this year that's ultimately going to take me to the next level. Not only that but kind of mixing it all together, becoming more of a complete pitcher more than a thrower."

Miller added he will also begin to work more on his changeup, which he threw just 2.2 percent of the time in 2014, per FanGraphs.com.

"I know [Braves pitching coach] Roger [McDowell] has been known for changeups," Miller said. "A lot of great pitchers have come through this organization, [and] that's a pitch I would love to pick up. I want to be able to throw it more consistently, [and] have a little bit more confidence in it."


Scott Baker agrees to minor-league deal with Yankees
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:16 pm ET) The Yankees agreed to a minor-league deal with pitcher Scott Baker, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. If Baker makes the major-league roster, he will be paid $1.5 million.

Baker made 25 appearances (eight starts) for the Rangers in 2014, going 3-4 with a 5.47 ERA. He had 55 strikeouts in 80 2/3 innings.


Rockies designate Jayson Aquino for assignment
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4:24 pm ET) After completing a two-team trade Friday, the Rockies decided to designate Jayson Aquino for assignment, the team announced.

Aquino spent 2014 bouncing around the minor league, pitching in 18 games with a 5.13 ERA in 107 innings pitched. He went 5-10 with 83 strikeouts in stints with both Double-A Tulsa and Class A Modesto.


Report: Red Sox express willingness to trade Edward Mujica
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:22 pm ET) The Red Sox have expressed a willingness to trade reliever Edward Mujica, a source told FOX Sports. The right-handed reliever is set to make $4.75 million in 2015.

Mujica, who was an All-Star with St. Louis in 2013, went 2-4 with a 3.90 ERA and eight saves in his first season with Boston in 2014.


Orioles 1B/OF Steve Pearce agrees to $3.7M salary for 2015
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:16 pm ET) The Orioles avoided arbitration with outfielder/first baseman Steve Pearce, agreeing to a $3.7 million salary for 2015, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. Pearce reportedly filed for $5.4 million, while the Orioles reportedly offered $2 million.

Pearce is coming off his best season as a major leaguer, batting .293 with a .373 on-base percentage, .556 slugging percentage, .930 OPS, 21 home runs, 26 doubles and 49 RBI in 102 games.


Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is 'staying put'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:57 pm ET) A team source told CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman that Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is "staying put."  Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich told FOX Sports earlier in the week that it is "highly, highly unlikely" Tulowitzki will be traded before opening day.

Tulowitzki, who has been linked to trade rumors involving the Mets this offseason, is under contract through 2020 on a six-year, $118 million deal. He is also recovering from August hip surgery.


Red Sox agree to deal with pitcher Alexi Ogando
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:52 pm ET) The Red Sox have agreed to a deal with pitcher Alexi Ogando, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. It is a one-year, $1.5 million contract, which includes $1.5 million in bonuses, according to USA Today.

Ogando has been a free agent since being non-tendered by the Rangers in December. Ogando made just 27 relief appearances in 2014 due to an elbow injury. He went 2-3 with a 6.84 ERA.

Ogando, who was an All-Star in 2011, also has experience starting at the major-league level, going 19-12 with a 3.40 ERA in 48 career starts.


Braves trade RPs Hale, Schlosser to Rockies for two minor leaguers
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:42 pm ET) The Braves traded pitchers David Hale and Gus Schlosser to the Rockies on Friday in exchange for catchers Jose Briceno and Chris O’Dowd.

Hale went 4-5 with a 3.30 ERA in 45 relief appearances for Atlanta in 2014. He struck out 44 batters and issued 39 walks in 87 1/3 innings.

Schlosser made his MLB debut in 2014, going 0-1 with a 7.64 ERA in 15 relief outings for Atlanta. He struck out eight and walked six in 17 2/3 innings.

Briceno hit .283 with 12 home runs, 23 doubles and 50 RBI in 84 games for Class A Asheville in 2014. He has a career .280/.433/.776 slash line over five minor-league seasons.

O'Dowd hit .271 with five home runs, 27 doubles and 48 RBI in 113 games between high Class A Modesto and Double-A Tulsa in 2014. He has a career .260/.362/.689 slash line over three minor-league seasons.


Tigers' Dombrowski: Steven Moya 'relatively close' to making impact
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:31 pm ET) Tigers outfield prospect Steven Moya, who was the MVP of the Eastern League (Double-A) in 2014, is expected to open the season at Triple-A Toledo, per the Detroit Free Press.

"I don't know if I'd say we're buying time for Moya," Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski said last week. "Probably when a guy as talented as Moya is ready, he'll make his way onto a team. I don't think we could absolutely say, trying to win a pennant, trying to win a world championship, you can count on him being 100 percent ready."

The 23-year-old Moya hit .276 with a .555 slugging percentage, .861 OPS, 33 doubles, 35 home runs and 105 RBI in 133 games last season at Double-A. He has a career .251/.444/.739 slash line over six minor-league seasons.

Moya also made a brief appearance in the majors last season, batting .375 (3 for 8) in 11 games.

"I think the development time will be good for him" Dombrowski said. "Could he come up and produce at some time during the year? Yes. He's relatively close."


 
 
 
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