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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
Cubs RP James Russell dispatched to Triple-A Iowa
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:43 pm ET) Cubs reliever James Russell has been outrighted to Triple-A Iowa after being designated for assignment Tuesday, MLB.com has reported.

Russell suffered through a miserable stretch in August, sending his ERA soaring from 2.70 to 5.29. He allowed 12 runs in 7 1/3 innings during that time.


Twins' Eddie Rosario mashes first grand slam of career in loss
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:36 pm ET) Twins outfielder Eddie Rosario connected on his first-career grand slam on Thursday, but it wasn't enough to avoid the 6-4 loss to the White Sox.

Rosario came to bat with the bases loaded and his team down 1-0 in the third inning. With one swing of the bat, he gave the Twins a three-run lead. The bullpen was unable to make that lead last however.

The four RBI is a new career-high for the Twins rookie. Rosario is batting .237 (9 for 38) with two homers and six RBI over his last 10 games.


White Sox RP David Robertson gets easy save on Thursday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:31 pm ET) White Sox closer David Robertson struck out a batter in a clean ninth inning, preserving Thursday's 6-4 win over the Twins. Robertson needed just 14 pitches to record his 28th save of the year.

The right-hander hadn't pitched since throwing two innings and getting the win on Sunday. He has successfully converted eight of his last nine save opportunities. 


Braves P Manny Banuelos gets another shot at starting Sunday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:27 pm ET) The pounding Braves starter Manny Banuelos absorbed in his first outing since returning from an elbow injury has not prevented Fredi Gonzalez from keeping him in the rotation for now.

Gonzalez confirmed that Banuelos will start Sunday in Washington, but will be limited to about 70-75 pitches, per MLB.com.

Banuelos performed well during a three-week stint in July before going down. But he allowed three runs on six hits in just 2 2/3 innings Tuesday against Miami.


Twins SP Kyle Gibson gets no-decision despite quality start
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:23 pm ET) Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson turned in a quality start on Thursday against the White Sox, but was left with a no-decision. Gibson allowed three runs on five hits over six innings. He struck out four and did not walk a batter, as the Twins dropped the series-finale 6-4.

Gibson allowed an early run in the top of the first inning, but the Twins rallied to take the lead on the heels of an Eddie Rosario grand slam in the third. But the White Sox chipped away, adding runs in the fourth and sixth innings. He left the game with the score tied 3-3, but the bullpen gave up three runs in the seventh.

Gibson has allowed three runs or fewer in five of his last seven starts, as his ERA is down to 3.84 on the year.


Tigers RP Al Alburquerque could be ready to pitch Friday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:18 pm ET) Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque threw a bullpen session Thursday, according to the Detroit News. He said he felt good and could be game ready Friday against the Indians.

Alburquerque added the MRI on his injured hip showed no structural damage. He has not pitched since Aug. 24.


White Sox SP Jeff Samardzija gives up grand slam, still gets a win
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:15 pm ET) White Sox starter Jeff Samardzija was actually out-pitched by opposing Twins starter Kyle Gibson on Thursday, but the tall right-hander walked away with his ninth win of the season. Samardzija allowed four runs on five hits over 6 1/3 innings. He walked four and struck out four, en route to the 6-4 victory.

Samardzija (9-11, 4.87 ERA) didn't pitch quite as poorly as his line may suggest. All four runs came from one swing of the bat--a grand slam by Eddie Rosario in the third inning. The White Sox, meanwhile, were able to rally back and retake the lead.

The win snapped a personal six-game losing streak for Samardzija. Still, he has allowed a total of 14 earned runs over his last three starts, spanning 17 2/3 innings.


Nationals' Taylor available off bench, but likely to get a few more days off
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:12 pm ET) Nationals outfielder Michael Taylor still has some swelling in his knee as of Thursday and could be held out of the starting lineup for a few more days. He is available off the bench against the Braves, but manager Matt Williams said he needs to rest so the injury will heal.

Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen (knee) only expected to miss one game
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:07 pm ET) Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen received a day off Thursday against the Brewers to deal with a left knee injury, which manager Clint Hurdle said has been bothering the All-Star outfielder for 5-6 days.

"We’ve been talking about a day off for the past four or five days," Hurdle said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Last night, we decided today would be a good day off."

Hurdle added, however, he is only expecting McCutchen to miss one game. He said McCutchen will be in the lineup Friday unless he "misses the flight."

McCutchen is batting .382 (21 for 55) with two home runs, five doubles, eight RBI, eight runs, eight walks, 10 strikeouts and one stolen base in his last 15 games.


Rangers' Kyle Blanks to undergo surgery on both feet
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:53 pm ET) Rangers infielder Kyle Blanks will miss the rest of the season due to surgery on both of his feet, the team announced Thursday.

Blanks will have arthroscopic surgery on his right foot for a chronic condition Friday. He will then have the same surgery on his left foot in 4-6 weeks.


 
 
 
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