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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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Athletics OF Josh Reddick (oblique) set for minor-league action
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:59 pm ET) Athletics outfielder Josh Reddick will play five innings in a minor-league game Sunday, the Bay Area News Group reports.

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(1:52 pm ET) X-rays on the injured hand of Blue Jays second baseman Steve Tolleson have come back clean, Sportsnet reports.

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(1:43 pm ET) Red Sox pitcher Edward Mujica will start the season in the closer role, manager John Farrell confirmed on Sunday. 

With Koji Uehara unlikely to be ready to start the year, Farrell said Mujica would get first shot at closing.

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Phillies name Cole Hamels Opening Day starter
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(1:42 pm ET) The Phillies have named Cole Hamels the starter for Opening Day, as expected, the Philadelphia Daily News reports.

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by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
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Rangers inform Jamey Wright he won't make team
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(1:36 pm ET) 40-year-old pitcher Jamey Wright has been informed by the Rangers that he won't make the club. 

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“If they change their minds, I’m still here,” Wright said, per the Dallas Morning News. “But, if not, I’m showcasing for all the other teams.”

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Ryan Rua, Delino DeShields big winners in Rangers OF battle
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(1:33 pm ET) The Rangers' roster is taking shape, and the big winners appear to be Ryan Rua and Delino DeShields Jr.

Rua will most likely be the starting left fielder for the Rangers, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Rua wrapped up the job by hitting .306 with eight RBI this spring. 

Jake Smolinski will be the fourth outfielder. He hit .333 with five RBI. DeShields will win the last roster spot. DeShields hit .235. As a Rule V draft pick, he needs to stay on the Major League roster, or the team risks losing him.

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Athletics' Jarrod Parker to throw simulated game Thursday
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(1:26 pm ET) Athletics pitcher Jarrod Parker will pitch in another simulated game Thursday, Comcast SportsNet California reports. Manager Bob Melvin indicated that he has to build Parker's arm strength up to pitching two innings before he'll consider using him in a minor-league game.

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(1:24 pm ET) Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon still hasn't decided between Taijuan Walker and Roenis Elias in the battle for the final spot in the starting rotation. That may be because he doesn't have to. 

The News Tribune reported that "all signs point to" the Mariners using a modified six-man rotation, featuring both Walker and Elias, this season. The setup would save wear and tear on the starting staff, so they'd be fresher in the event the Mariners make the postseason. 

Team officials still haven't confirmed the plan. 


 
 
 
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