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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
Lineup slide sparks slump-busting game for David DeJesus
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:51 am ET) Rays outfielder David DeJesus responded well Tuesday to a drop to the seventh spot in the batting order.

The move was made to snap him out of a hitless streak that had reached 24 at-bats. Considered him snapped. He had three hits and three RBI in the defeat of Baltimore to raise his batting average to .174.


Adam Wainwright expects to make next start
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:50 am ET) Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said starting pitcher Adam Wainwright passed strength and mobility tests after leaving Tuesday's start against the Mets with a hyperextended right knee, per FOX Sports Midwest.

"He may be sore for a day or two but we'll find out more (Wednesday)," Matheny said.

Wainwright said he expects to make his next scheduled start Sunday against the Pirates.

"At first you get a little scared, but as I started walking off the field I knew I hadn't done anything wrong," Wainwright told reporters. "All is good."


Jose Bautista not getting many pitches to hit
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:29 am ET) Given how pitchers are pitching around Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, it's amazing he has six home runs and 13 RBI 20 games into the season.

Bautista leads the major leagues in percentage of balls thrown to him at 47 percent, Sportsnet has reported. The early-season slump by cleanup hitter Edwin Encarnacion has contributed to a willingness to pitch around him. Bautista already has 25 walks, which puts him on pace for 200 for the season.

"His discipline has been off the charts because even the strikes he's taken have been marginal pitches, pitchers' pitches," said hitting coach Kevin Seitzer. "He's got to stay right there, take his walks and trust the guys behind him because if he starts expanding just to put balls in play, then he's going to struggle."

Bautista owns a .262/.467/.569 stat line.


Mike Olt to see more playing time at third base
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:24 am ET) Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Tuesday it's time to start playing Mike Olt at third base more often, per The Chicago Sun-Times.

"We’ve talked about gradually getting him into that role," Renteria said. "Do I plan on playing him [Wednesday]? Yes.

"Everything’s very calculated. So I’m going to throw him out there and let him run with it a little bit. We’re still measuring everything; we’re still trying to be kind of guarded, but he’ll be in there (Wednesday) again."

Olt is welcoming the opportunity for more playing time at third base.

"That’d be great," Olt said of getting regular playing time. "I definitely did a lot of work to get myself ready. I definitely feel I’m ready for the task and can build off the last couple games and go from there."


Will Middlebrooks could be back with Sox this weekend
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:15 am ET) Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks could return from his rehab assignment as early as this weekend against Toronto, per the Boston Herald.

Middlebrooks, who has been dealing with a calf injury, will play for Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday. A determination will then be made as to when he is ready to come back.


Jacoby Ellsbury calls calf wrap 'maintenance'
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:10 am ET) Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury had his calf wrapped Tuesday night, which brought to mind his absence for two weeks from spring training with a tight right calf.

Ellsbury, however, told the Newark Star-Ledger that the calf wrap merely served as "maintenance."


David Hale will start Saturday against Reds
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:59 am ET) The Braves announced starting pitcher David Hale will get another start Saturday against the Reds, according to MLB.com. Mike Minor (shoulder) was expected to start Saturday, but the Braves decided he will make one more rehab start before rejoining the rotation.

Marlins recall reliever Carter Capps
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:23 am ET) The Marlins recalled reliever Carter Capps prior to their Wednesday afternoon game at Atlanta. Capps posted a 1.64 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in seven appearances for Triple-A New Orleans, while striking out 17 batters in 11 innings.

Mike Olt hits fourth homer Tuesday
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:19 am ET) Cubs third baseman Mike Olt continued his all-or-nothing season Tuesday, clubbing his fourth home run of the season in a 9-2 win over the Diamondbacks.

Olt went 1 for 4 in the game and struck out twice, giving him eight strikeouts in the last four games. Still, he clubbed a three-run shot in the fifth inning to provide what would ultimately be the winning margin in the game.

Olt is hitting just .195, but is providing the kind of power that became his calling card in the minors. Of his eight hits in 16 games, four are home runs and five are for extra bases. He has a .195/.250/.512 line in 41 at-bats. 


Chase Headley hits second home run in big spot
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:12 am ET) Padres third baseman Chase Headley is showing some signs of life, as he ended a power drought and brought his batting average to the Mendoza line in a 2-1 win over the Brewers Tuesday.

Headley slugged his first home run in nine games Tuesday, and it couldn't have come at a more perfect time. He went deep in the 12th inning to provide the winning run in the game, and finished 2 for 4 overall with a  walk and strikeout added.

Headley is hitting just .200 through 18 games with two home runs and seven RBI, but has hit safely in four of five games to raise his average 40 points. 


 
 
 
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