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2012 Fantasy outlooks: New York Yankees

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When the Yankees win the AL East, it's usually the expectation. But considering their starting rotation last year was a collection fringe prospects, injury-plagued journeymen and stem cell test subjects, the fact they came out six games ahead in a three-horse race was nothing short of an upset.

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So just imagine what they can do now that they've poured some resources into their pitching staff.

First, the Yankees traded prized hitting prospect Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda, a 23-year-old All-Star with a high-90s fastball. Then, they signed free agent Hiroki Kuroda, a veteran innings eater who was the victim of poor run support during his four years with the Dodgers. With those two moves on the same Friday night in January, the Yankees' rotation went from being just another collection of table scraps to one of the top five in the American League. So much for it being their Achilles heel. Now their starting five can hang with the Rays' as their starting nine can hang with the Red Sox's.

Speaking of that starting nine, it actually has room for improvement even with Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter on their last legs. Mark Teixeira has recommitted himself to hitting for batting average after a couple years of swinging for the fences, and Curtis Granderson's adjustments against left-handed pitchers have made him a legitimate 40-homer threat. Raul Ibanez stepping in for the now-retired Jorge Posada should lead to better numbers for the DH platoon, and Brett Gardner, well, he's more likely to get better than worse, right?

As long as Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher continue to do what they always do, shoot, who needs A-Rod?

And that's the gist of this Yankees team. They're not so much about Rodriguez, Jeter and Posada anymore, but they're still as overrun with high-end Fantasy talent as ever. As a general rule, when you draft a Yankee, you're drafting a known quantity. They don't like to work with anything less, even if they've shown they can.

Breakout ... Michael Pineda, SP

Pineda is going from a pitcher's park to a hitter's park, sure, but before you condemn him to a higher ERA and WHIP, think back to just how dominant he was early last season. Through 17 starts -- the first 17 of his career, mind you -- he went 8-5 with a 2.58 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP and 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings. In other words, as a 22-year-old fresh out of Triple-A and with virtually no offense backing him, he was an ace. And it's not like Pineda was overachieving then, not with his high-90s fastball and stellar strikeout-to-walk ratio. More likely, the innings simply caught up to him. He had never pitched more than 139 1/3 in a minor-league season. With a year of experience, he'll be better equipped to handle a full workload, which could lead to 15-plus victories with the Yankees' stellar lineup backing him. And most likely, any rise in ERA will be in relation to the early 2.58 mark, not the final 3.74 mark.

Bust ... Alex Rodriguez, 3B

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Well, this is just overkill. Honestly, how much farther can the mighty fall? Rodriguez says he's in great shape -- just like he did last year -- but the difference is he had Kobe Bryant's miracle Orthokine treatment this offseason. No more knee aches. No more shoulder pains. Yup, he's all better now. That's the story anyway. You can delude yourself into believing it if you want, but unless that centrifuge spun his blood so fast that it went back in time, any difference the procedure makes won't last over the 162-game grind. A-Rod turns 37 this year. He's beyond the point of no return as far as aging sluggers go, which means his steadily declining slugging percentage the last four years is likely to continue, as is the time lost to injury. He will get hurt at some point this year. Maybe he won't need midseason surgery again, but he'll miss enough time that, combined with the less-than-stellar OPS, his production won't live up to the price tag.

Sleeper ... Phil Hughes, SP

Over his last 35 appearances -- 30 of them starts -- Hughes has a 5.39 ERA, which might lead some Fantasy owners to believe he's a lost cause. But if the Yankees felt that way, they wouldn't have been so quick to deal A.J. Burnett. In 2010, Hughes' second-half struggles were predictable given the sudden rise in innings. As for 2011, it was doomed from the first reports of his velocity being down in spring training. Hughes' excuse is simple enough. He showed up out of shape, causing him to fall behind. With an improved workout program this offseason, he should be able to pick up where he left off late last year when he was throwing in the low-to-mid 90s. True, Hughes wasn't exactly an ace then, but just by holding a regular rotation spot for the high-scoring Yankees, he's a sleeper in Fantasy. And if he can recapture the form he showed in the first half of 2010 when he was an All-Star, he's a late-round steal.

2012 New York Yankees Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Derek Jeter SS 1 CC Sabathia LH
2 Curtis Granderson CF 2 Hiroki Kuroda RH
3 Robinson Cano 2B 3 Michael Pineda RH
4 Alex Rodriguez 3B 4 Ivan Nova RH
5 Mark Teixeira 1B 5 Phil Hughes RH
6 Nick Swisher RF Alt Freddy Garcia RH
7 Raul Ibanez DH
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Russell Martin C CL Mariano Rivera RH
9 Brett Gardner LF SU David Robertson RH
Top bench options RP Rafael Soriano RH
R Andruw Jones OF RP Cory Wade RH
R Eduardo Nunez IF RP Boone Logan LH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2011 high Destination
1 Dellin Betances 24 SP Majors Triple-A
A hard-throwing strikeout artist, Betances could occupy a spot at the top of the Yankees' rotation in the near future. Control issues are the main reason he isn't there already.
2 Manuel Banuelos 21 SP Triple-A Triple-A
Banuelos and Betances have similar strengths and weaknesses, with Betances getting a slight edge since he's older and has already debuted. Banuelos could arrive this year, though.
3 Gary Sanchez 19 C Class A Class A
As far as power-hitting catcher prospects go, Sanchez is as good as it gets. Of course, much like his predecessor, the now-departed Jesus Montero, his catching skills are lacking.
4 Austin Romine 23 C Triple-A Triple-A
Romine doesn't have nearly the offensive potential of Sanchez, but given his superior defense, he's a safer bet to stay at catcher. And he could arrive this year if Martin falters.
5 Dante Bichette 19 3B Class A Class A
Less than a year into his professional career, Bichette already looks like he'll follow in his father's footsteps as a significant Fantasy contributor. He'll succeed A-Rod one day.
Best of the rest: Mason Williams, OF; Jose Campos, SP; J.R. Murphy, C; Slade Heathcott, OF; David Phelps, SP; Cesar Cabral, RP; Adam Warren, SP; Cito Culver, SS; Brett Marshall, SP; David Adams, 2B; Zoilo Almonte, OF; Corban Joseph, 2B; George Kontos, RP; Brandon Laird, 3B; Chase Whitley, RP; Adam Miller, SP; and D.J. Mitchell, SP.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Giants 2B Joe Panik (back) rejoins the lineup on Friday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(3:32 pm ET) Giants second baseman Joe Panik has returned to the starting lineup for Friday's series-opener against the Rangers. Panik had missed the last two games due to a stiff back, but it seems he has healed up enough to go on Friday.

He'll bat second in the order as per usual for manager Bruce Bochy.


Red Sox LF Hanley Ramirez sits Friday due to shin injury
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:29 pm ET) Red Sox left fielder Hanley Ramirez was held out of the starting lineup Friday against the Rays due to a shin injury, according to CSNNE.com.

Ramirez is batting .275 (11 for 40) with one double, three RBI, five runs, two walks, seven strikeouts and one stolen base in his last 10 games. He has not homered in his last 15 games.


Red Sox 3B Pablo Sandoval unable to start Friday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:25 pm ET) Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval was not in the starting lineup Friday against the Rays. He left Thursday's game after he was hit on the left wrist by a pitch while striking out in the fourth inning.

Sandoval has been mired in an offensive slump for a few weeks, batting .203 in his last 18 games. He has one home run, two doubles and five RBI in that span.


Marlins recall pitcher Jose Urena from Triple-A on Friday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(3:12 pm ET) The Marlins have recalled right-hander Jose Urena from Triple-A New Orleans on Friday. The rookie pitcher has made nine appearances, including seven starts, for the Marlins this season. He owns a 1-4 record with a 4.04 ERA.

In five starts since being sent back down to Triple-A, Urena is 2-1 with a 4.45 ERA and a 19:7 K:BB ratio.


Marlins reinstate INF Donovan Solano from paternity list
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(3:06 pm ET) Marlins infielder Donovan Solano has returned from the paternity list. Solano has been away from the team since Tuesday.

He has nine hits in 62 at-bats this season for the Marlins.


Orioles pluck RP Mychal Givens from Double-A Bowie
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:59 pm ET) The Orioles have reached all the way to Double-A Bowie to promote right-handed pitcher Mychal Givens, per MASNsports.com.

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Yankees release P Esmil Rogers, who signs with Korean team
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:50 pm ET) The purging Yankees have released pitcher Esmil Rogers to allow him to sign with a Korean team.

Rogers, who was sent to Triple-A on July 1, compiled a 6.27 ERA in 18 relief appearances for the Yankees this season before his demotion.


Marlins release injured 1B Jeff Baker
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:43 pm ET) The Marlins have added insult to injury to first baseman Jeff Baker, who is on the disabled list with an intercostal strain. They have released Baker, per MLB.com.

Baker had just one hit in his last 17 at-bats before going down and has posted a weak slash line of .208/.288/.375 on the year.


Yankees demote P Chris Capuano to Triple-A
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:39 pm ET) Disappointing left-hander Chris Capuano has been dispatched by the Yankees to Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre.

The 36-year-old Capuano, who was designated for assignment Wednesday, punched his ticket with two horrible performances in which he surrendered nine runs on seven hits and five walks in 1 2/3 innings. He is 0-4 with a 6.97 ERA.


Rays recall OF Mikie Mahtook, reliever Kirby Yates
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:37 pm ET) After trading Kevin Jepsen to the Twins on Friday, the Rays recalled reliever Kirby Yates from Triple-A Durham to take his spot on the roster.

The Rays also recalled outfielder Mikie Mahtook from Durham.


 
 
 
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