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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
Travis Snider out of Wednesday game with apparent injury
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:48 pm ET) Pirates right fielder Travis Snider has been removed from the Wednesday game against St. Louis. He was replaced by a pinch-runner in the bottom of the third inning after beating out a bunt single. No specifics about the injury are yet available.

Brayan Pena grabbing some pine against Cubs
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:42 pm ET) A massive slump has Reds catcher/first baseman Brayan Pena out of the lineup Wednesday night against the visiting Cubs. Todd Frazier is set to play first with Kris Negron at third.

Pena has just two hits in his last 20 at-bats. His .374 slugging percentage is at its lowest point since June 28.


Rusney Castillo reports for first official workout
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:01 pm ET) Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo, who recently signed a seven-year, $72.5 million contract, reported to the team's training complex in Florida Wednesday to go through his first official workout. Rusney stretched, jogged and played catch on a practice field.

Alexei Ramirez slugging better than .500 in August
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:52 pm ET) White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez homered for the second straight game during an 8-6 loss Tuesday against the Indians. He finished 2 for 5 with two runs and three RBI.

Ramirez hit a two-run homer off T.J. House in the fifth inning to give Chicago a 5-4 lead. He then tied the game at 6 with an RBI groundout in the seventh.

Ramirez is batting .303 with a .506 slugging percentage, .832 OPS, three home runs, nine doubles, 12 RBI, 13 runs and one stolen base in 22 August games.


Allen Craig hits first home run since trade
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:44 pm ET) Allen Craig hit his first home run as a member of the Red Sox during an 11-7 win Tuesday at Toronto. Craig capped a seven-run 11th inning with a two-run homer off Sergio Santos.

Craig finished 1 for 5 with one walk and two strikeouts. He is batting .174 (4 for 23) with one home run, two doubles, two RBI, one run, two walks and eight strikeouts in six games since being acquired from St. Louis.


Justin Turner taking advantage of chance to play
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:34 pm ET) Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner has taken the opportunity and run with it at the plate.

Turner has become an every-day player since mid-August and has hit safely in seven of his last eight games. He has 11 hits in 28 at-bats with seven RBI and five runs scored. His stat line on the season has improved to .316/.387/.442.


Hot hitting against lefties earns Jon Jay more action
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:28 pm ET) An ability to hit left-handers as well as righties has resulted in increased playing time for Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay recently. He has already earned more at-bats in August than in any previous month this season.

Jay is 24 of 60 against southpaws for a .400 average. He is 23 of 53 since Aug. 7 in raising his batting average from .285 to .310. He has hit safely in 14 of his last 16 games.


Dustin Pedroia homers, drives in four runs during win
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:20 pm ET) Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia homered for the second straight game and drove in four runs during an 11-7 win Tuesday at Toronto. He finished 2 for 5 with two runs, one walk and one stolen base.

Pedroia opened the scoring with a two-run homer off R.A. Dickey in the first inning. He then added a two-run single off Casey Janssen in the top of the 11th inning, which broke a 4-all tie.

The veteran second baseman is having a productive August, batting .304 with three home runs, four doubles, 13 RBI, 18 runs and three stolen bases in 23 games.


Cole Hamels reportedly upset at Ryne Sandberg over hook
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:04 pm ET) Phillies standout left-hander Cole Hamels appeared upset at being removed from the Tuesday night game against Washinton after 84 pitches and seven-plus innings in a no-decision.

Hamels was removed by Ryne Sandberg after yielding a game-tying homer to open the eighth. According to CSNPhilly.com, he clearly looked angry when Sandberg emerged from the dugout. He looked around in disgust, began walking off the mound before Sandberg arrived and handed him the ball.

Hamels, however, would not address the issue when asked about it after the game, eventually won by the Phillies. "Um, I just think it was a good game and we were able to win," he said in avoiding the question. "It was a good game that we won today," he later said. "See you guys."

Hamels has been victimized by a lack of run support this season, which explains a 7-6 record despite a 2.59 ERA that ranks fifth in the National League.


Josh Reddick doesn't like taking strikes
by Al Melchior | Data Analyst
(12:03 pm ET) Since returning from a knee injury in late July, Josh Reddick has rediscovered the power that had been sorely lacking for him earlier in the season. That has helped to catapult him among the top 25 outfielders in Fantasy since then, but his power resurgence is only part of the story.

Reddick has a history of extreme flyball hitting, and while that gives him the potential to hit 30-plus homers like he did in 2012, it also has a little something to do with his career .242 batting average. In 30 games since his disabled list stint, Reddick has a .301 batting average to complement his six home runs and eight doubles for the Athletics, but he hasn't relied on an inflated BABIP to achieve a high average. Reddick's BABIP since his return is .275, which is just three points higher than his career mark.

The key to Reddick's lofty status among his fellow outfielders (19th in Head-to-Head, 23rd in Rotisserie) is his near-refusal to take a strike. Since his July 22 activation, Reddick has the 17th-lowest called strike rate among hitters who have seen at least 300 pitches, allowing just 11.9 percent of pitches he has seen get called for strikes (as compared to the median rate of 16.7 percent). That has aided Reddick in striking out just seven times in 103 at-bats. Among the top 25 outfielders during this period, only Ben Revere, Melky Cabrera and Norichika Aoki have even come close to Reddick's strikeout rate or total.

Over most of his career, Reddick has been a pretty typical hitter in terms of his tendency to take a strike, so who knows if he can keep this going? We've seen strange things happen before over the course of 100 or so at-bats, but if Reddick continues to blend his new aggressive approach with the decent contact rate he's shown over the years, he could be legitimate as a top 25 outfielder.


 
 
 
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