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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
Cardinals' Kolten Wong 'getting more comfortable' leading off
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:32 am ET) Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong is 8 for 19 with three walks in his last five games, which have all come with him slotted in the leadoff spot.

"I’m definitely getting more comfortable," Wong said, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I’m starting to realize what kind of hitter I am. I understand that I can see some pitches and still be comfortable going deep into at-bats. Before, I kind of panicked leading off because I wasn’t someone who was comfortable taking pitches. Now I know I can still drive balls, no matter what the count. It just takes time. Leadoff isn’t an easy place to hit at. It’s all about learning and understanding how to hit leadoff and then buying into it."

The lineup change as pushed third baseman Matt Carpenter to the No. 2 spot, a move he sees as positive for the offense.

"I think we’re a better offense with him hitting leadoff and me hitting in the second spot," Carpenter said. "He just needed to develop as a hitter, and we’re seeing what he’s been able to become — a guy that can have tough at-bats. That’s the key to what a leadoff (hitter) is. It’s not giving away at-bats. And he hasn’t given away at-bats all year."

Wong's recent hot stretch gives him a .315/.369/.469 line with five home runs and 22 RBI in 162 at-bats.


Orioles 1B Chris Davis not in starting lineup Monday
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(10:26 am ET) Slumping first baseman Chris Davis is not in the Orioles' starting lineup Monday, the first time this season Davis has not started a game in which he was eligible. 

Davis did not start on Opening Day, which was the last game of the 25-game suspension he incurred last season for violating MLB's drug policy. 

Davis has been in a prolonged slump this season, and with the Astros starting tough left-hander Dallas Keuchel, it seemed as good as day as any to give Davis a day off. 

Steve Pearce gets the start at first base, while Everth Cabrera is in the lineup for the second straight day, this time at second base. 


Mets' Collins: Jacob deGrom on innings limit
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:25 am ET) Mets manager Terry Collins said Monday that pitcher Jacob deGrom is on an innings limit this season, The Star-Ledger reports.

deGrom threw 178 1/3 innings last season, with a majority of them coming in the majors during his Rookie of the Year campaign. He's up to 55 2/3 innings this season through nine starts and owns a 2.75 ERA and 54:13 K:BB ratio.

Collins also spoke about his plans to use a six-man rotation, saying that he told his pitchers it was to keep them fresh late in the year.


C Drew Butera gets nod behind the plate for Royals
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(10:18 am ET) Catcher Drew Butera will make his third start for the Royals on Monday since being acquired from the Angels, starting against the Yankees and hitting ninth. 

Butera's last start came on May 14 and he's seen just two plate appearances since then. He has two hits in eight at-bats with the Royals. 

Second baseman Omar Infante is the only Royals starter with experience against Yankees pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, with two hits in three at-bats. 


Rockies' Charlie Blackmon, Troy Tulowitzki out of lineup Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:18 am ET) Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki are out of the starting lineup for Monday's game against the Reds.

Blackmon will get a break after starting 12 straight games, and Brandon Barnes will man both center field and the leadoff spot in the lineup. Tulowitzki is sitting for the second time in three games and will be replaced by Daniel Descalso, who's batting eighth.

The Rockies are underdogs (+132) on Monday, per VegasInsider.com.


Reds move Votto, Frazier, Bruce up in order Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:14 am ET) The Reds have shifted the heart of their order up, with first baseman Joey Votto batting second, third baseman Todd Frazier batting third and right fielder Jay Bruce batting fourth on Monday against the Rockies.

The Reds have tried a multitude of options in the No. 2 spot after moving Votto out of it on April 26, but they'll go with Votto, Frazier and Bruce in the second, third and fourth positions for just the second time this season, with former cleanup hitter Brandon Phillips batting leadoff.

The Reds are favorites (-140) against the Rockies on Monday, per VegasInsider.com.


Royals SP Danny Duffy (biceps) headed to 15-day DL
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(10:11 am ET) The Royals announced Monday that they have placed starter Danny Duffy on the 15-day disabled list with left biceps tendinitis and recalled Brandon Finnegan to take his spot on the roster. 

Duffy's move was retroactive to May 17, meaning he can come off the disabled list on June 1. Duffy complained of shoulder stiffness on Friday and he was scratched from his Saturday start and pushed to Tuesday. 

With Duffy headed to the DL, Jason Vargas will start Tuesday's game against the Yankees. 


Reds' Billy Hamilton back in lineup Monday vs. Rockies
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:10 am ET) Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton is back in the starting lineup and batting ninth in Monday's matchup with the Rockies.

Hamilton suffered shoulder and wrist injuries on a slide on Saturday and was held out of Sunday's game, but it appears the issue was minor. He has hit .211/.256/.322 with three home runs, nine RBI and a league-high 17 stolen bases in 152 at-bats.

It's the first time this season manager Bryan Price has batted the pitcher eighth. The Reds are favorites (-140) on Monday, per VegasInsider.com.


2B Jose Altuve returns to Astros lineup
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(10:03 am ET) After missing his first game of the season and his first in 88 starts, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve is back in the lineup for Monday's matinee against the Orioles, hitting second. 

Altuve has had some success against Baltimore starter Wei-Yin Chen, going 4-for-10 with two RBIs against the pitcher. 

Altuve is hitting second behind leadoff man George Springer, who will get his second consective start at the top of the lineup, the first two times all year the right fielder has hit leadoff. 


Twins 3B Trevor Plouffe raising average
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(9:54 am ET) Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe responded to a minor skid with a solid week that saw him raise his batting average by 11 points, as he picked up at least one hit in five of his last six contests. 

Plouffe is now hitting .265 on the year with six homers and 22 RBIs, and he's done much of his damage at pitcher-friendly Target Field, where he's registered five of his longballs and 17 of his RBIs. 


 
 
 
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