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2014 Fantasy Outlooks: New York Yankees

Senior Fantasy Writer
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For just the second time in the last 19 years, the Yankees missed the playoffs in 2013, and though it wasn't the scandal it would have been under George Steinbrenner, the team ended up making some drastic changes in response.

For starters, Robinson Cano is now in Seattle. Normally, giving up your best player of the last five years isn't the best way to make up ground in the standings, especially when the replacement is a 36-year-old who has averaged 48 games the last four (looking at you, Brian Roberts), but the Yankees used the money they would have paid him to address several other needs, signing Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann to multi-year deals. Yes, gone are the days of them counting on Vernon Wells for 400 at-bats. Or even Ichiro Suzuki. The 40-year-old speedster, a mainstay in Fantasy lineups since breaking into the big leagues in 2001, is now confined to a backup role, buried beneath the Yankees' latest assortment of sluggers.

2014 Fantasy Outlooks
A.L. East N.L. East
Orioles Braves
Red Sox Marlins
Yankees Mets
Rays Phillies
Blue Jays Nationals
A.L. Central N.L. Central
White Sox Cubs
Indians Reds
Tigers Brewers
Royals Pirates
Twins Cardinals
A.L. West N.L. West
Astros Diamondbacks
Angels Rockies
Athletics Dodgers
Mariners Padres
Rangers Giants

Notice anything special about this particular assortment? Yup, they all bat left-handed (or primarily left-handed, in Beltran's case), which means they'll get every last benefit of playing half their games with a short porch in right field. McCann in particular is known for being a dead pull hitter. Ellsbury may not be a "slugger" in the truest sense, but he showed he's capable of hitting for power with his 32 home runs in 2011 and seems like the type of well-rounded player who would adapt his game based on his surroundings. Given everything else he does, he's a stud either way, but Fantasy owners would certainly welcome a resurgence in home runs.

The coup of the offseason for the Yankees, though, was landing Masahiro Tanaka, a 25-year-old right-hander who was putting up record numbers in Japan. Going in, he was considered the best free agent available at the Yankees' biggest position of need. He doesn't have Yu Darvish's stuff by all accounts, but with better command and a deep secondary arsenal, he's a legitimate top-of-the-rotation guy. Of course, he'll probably be in for an adjustment period, but as long as he's not the first pitcher you draft, you'll be satisfied with the results.

The only other major change to the pitching staff is at closer, where longtime setup man David Robertson takes over for retired legend Mariano Rivera. CC Sabathia showed last year he may be on his last legs at age 33, but fortunately, the cost on Draft Day should reflect it. The same is true for Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter. Not so much Alfonso Soriano, who is entering crash-and-burn territory at age 38, but players who consistently deliver 30-plus homers have become so scarce that he's worth a middle-round pick, even with the risk.

No mention of Alex Rodriguez, huh? It's only fitting. Fantasy owners turned the page on him long ago.

Breakout ... David Robertson, relief pitcher

2014 projected lineup
Player Name Position
1. Jacoby Ellsbury CF
2. Derek Jeter SS
3. Carlos Beltran RF
4. Mark Teixeira 1B
5. Brian McCann C
6. Alfonso Soriano DH
7. Kelly Johnson 3B
8. Brian Roberts 2B
9. Brett Gardner LF
Bench Eduardo Nunez IF
Bench Ichiro Suzuki OF
You've seen this movie enough times to know how it turns out. Though the career setup man's transition to closer is met with great skepticism, with no one completely sure he'll still know which way is up with an elusive save on the line, he ends up being as effective as ever in the role when given a chance to settle into it. Robertson will most certainly get that chance. The owner has already said as much. The Yankees backed themselves into a corner by going over budget to sign Tanaka and have nowhere else to turn for the ninth inning. Fortunately, they're in good hands with the 28-year-old, who compiled a 1.91 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 12.0 strikeouts per nine innings over the last three years as Mariano Rivera's setup man. In an era when more and more teams have entrusted their best reliever with closing duties, Robertson has the ratios to measure up. Don't hesitate to draft him as a top 12 reliever, despite his lack of experience in the role.

Buyer beware ... Mark Teixeira, first base

His right wrist surgically repaired and his spirits high after a long layoff, Teixeira is poised this year to pick up where he left off in 2012, some would have you believe. Maybe he will. Maybe he won't. But no matter where you fall on that spectrum, you shouldn't lose sight of what exactly that means. In 2012, his OPS dropped for the fifth straight year, settling at a .807 mark that wasn't too unlike what Darin Ruf delivered last season. He began to have trouble staying on the field, his batting average hovered in the .250 range for a third straight year, and his walk rate dipped to where it no longer made up for his shortcomings. Now, he's coming back from surgery to his wrist, which, like the shoulders and hips, doesn't regain its strength as quickly as it heals. So in Teixeira, you have a first baseman quite evidently on the decline whose latest injury is a threat to the one area where he still excels, hitting home runs. Yeah ... a late-round pick sounds about right.

Sleeper ... Michael Pineda, starting pitcher

2014 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. CC Sabathia LHP
2. Masahiro Tanaka RHP
3. Hiroki Kuroda RHP
4. Ivan Nova RHP
5. Michael Pineda RHP
ALT David Phelps RHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. David Robertson RHP
2. Shawn Kelley RHP
3. Matt Thornton LHP
4. Preston Claiborne RHP
5. Adam Warren RHP
It seems like ancient history now, but Pineda was the rookie pitcher who took the league by storm in 2011, earning a trip to the All-Star game with an overpowering arsenal and poise beyond his 22 years. Thanks to a torn labrum suffered in his first spring training with the Yankees the following year, he hasn't pitched in a major-league game since. That includes last year, even though he returned to make 10 minor-league starts, which led some to believe the Yankees didn't like what they saw. But the numbers suggest he was as overpowering as before, striking out more than a batter per inning with relatively low hit and walk rates. More likely, the Yankees didn't want to force the issue and add to his service time in what was shaping up to be a lost season. From the general manager on down, they seem all about him winning a rotation spot in 2014. He has shown he can still hit the mid-90s with his fastball, and his secondary stuff remains intact. For a late-round pick, the reward outweighs the risk.

Prospects Report

Catcher Gary Sanchez is the one prospect in the Yankees system who Fantasy owners can trust to become an impact player someday, but that's at least partially because of the position he plays. He has legitimate middle-of-the-order power but underwhelmed between high Class A and Double-A last year and is still a ways from breaking into the big leagues ... Mason Williams looked like a front-line outfield prospect at this time a year ago but then hit .245 with a .641 OPS in 478 at-bats between high Class A and Double-A. Tyler Austin's stock also plummeted, but at least in Williams' case, the tools are good enough for long-term keeper owners to hold out hope for a rebound ... Slade Heathcott has long been a tools-over-production prospect, but he's practically to Triple-A now with nothing to hang his hat on. Don't hold your breath on him contributing this year ... In terms of ceiling, second base Gosuke Katoh has some Fantasy appeal for his combination of power, speed and patience at a premium position, but at age 19, he's for dynasty leagues only.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite .

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Player News
Royals not counting on Kris Medlen until the second half
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:14 pm ET) The Royals do not expect pitcher Kris Medlen to return until the second half of the season.

General manager Dayton Moore told reporters he expects Medlen to be a factor down the stretch. Medlen is coming off Tommy John surgery, and the team will give him time to recover. Medlen had the surgery last March. Typically, it takes about a year for pitchers to recover, but the Royals aren't banking on Medlen being healthy right away.

Prior to having the surgery, Medlen posted a 3.11 ERA over 197 innings in 2013. 


Royals designate Johnny Giavotella for assignment Thursday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:22 pm ET) Royals infielder Johnny Giavotella was designated for assignment Thursday. Giavotella appeared in just 12 games for Kansas City in 2014 and has a .238/.277/.334/.612 slash line over four MLB seasons (125 games).

Veteran outfielder Ichiro Suzuki on Orioles radar
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:07 pm ET) The Orioles are showing some interest in signing 41-year-old outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

The Orioles are looking for an outfielder after losing Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis in free agency. Ichiro is 156 hits shy of 3,000 career hits and looking to extend his MLB career.


Germano, Lowe, Rivero sign minor-league deals with Mariners
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:41 pm ET) The Mariners announced Monday they signed pitcher Justin Germano, pitcher Mark Lowe and infielder Carlos Rivero to minor-league deals, which included invites to spring training.

Dodgers acquire Matt Long from Angels, then deal him to Brewers
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:38 pm ET) The Dodgers announced Thursday they acquired minor-league infielder/outfielder Matt Long from the Angels to complete the Dec. 9 trade for catcher Drew Butera.

However, Long wasn't with Los Angeles for long, as they traded him and pitcher Jarret Martin to the Brewers for minor-league catcher Shawn Zarraga.


Rockies sign trio of players to minor-league contracts Thursday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3:37 pm ET) The Rockies have signed left-handed pitcher John Lannan, right-handed pitcher Justin Miller and catcher Audry Perez to minor-league contracts. Each of the players also received an invitation to the team's spring training. 

Lannan made five appearances in 2014 with the Mets, going 1-0 with a 15.75 ERA. He was also a member of the Nationals from 2007-2012, where in 2009 he threw 206 1/3 innings, going 9-13.

Miller made eight appearances for the Tigers in 2014, posting a 5.11 ERA with five strikeouts while Perez appeared in just one game last year with the Cardinals.


Agent: Outfielder Delmon Young hoping to remain in Baltimore
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3:27 pm ET) Outfielder Delmon Young is reportedly not close to making a decision on where to play in 2015, but his agent said the Orioles "absolutely" remain in play, according to MASN.com.

The 29-year-old veteran is hoping to get a multi-year extension with the club, but is still keeping his options open, his agent said.

"Everything has been very positive," said Joel Wolfe of Wasserman Media Group, who met with the Orioles during the Winter Meetings in San Diego. "They value Delmon and realize what he brings to the table, and hopefully it's just a matter of getting it right."

Young hit .302 in 83 games, with 11 doubles, seven home runs and 30 RBI.


Jason Grilli's reps still talking to the Yankees
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:27 pm ET) Free agent reliever Jason Grilli and the Yankees are still open to discussions about the veteran reliever being part of the team's bullpen, one of Grilli's agents told NJ.com on Thursday.

"We last spoke during the (Winter Meetings) and the door is still open to discussions," said Xavier D. James, who co-represents Grilli with retired outfielder Gary Sheffield. "We will be patient."

The 12-year vet Grilli spent the 2014 season with the Pirates and Angels, going 1-5 with a 4.00 ERA and 12 saves in 62 appearances. He was an All-Star closer for the Pirates in 2013.


Kris Medlen lands two-year deal with Royals
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:15 pm ET) The Royals announced Thursday they signed pitcher Kris Medlen to a two-year contract, which includes a mutual option for 2017.

Medlen missed all of the 2014 season with the Braves due to Tommy John surgery. He became a free agent after he was non-tendered in early December. 

Medlen is 30-13 with a 2.96 ERA in 61 career starts and 4-7 with a 2.92 ERA in 91 relief appearances. Since the start of 2010, Medlen's .674 winning percentage (31-15) ranks third in MLB among pitchers with 40-plus decisions.


Report: Dodgers trade for Phillies shortstop Rollins remains in place
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:01 pm ET) The Dodgers acquisition of Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins has yet to be finalized because of another Dodgers trade with the Padres is being reportedly held up due to an issue with Matt Kemp's physical. One of the players in the Kemp deal the Dodgers are acquiring -- Zach Eflin -- is expected to be part of the trade for Rollins.

However, whether or not Eflin eventually is part of the trade with Philadelphia, the Rollins deal remains in place, sources told CSNPhilly.com. The Phillies and Dodgers have discussed other players as part of the deal in case the Kemp trade to the Padres doesn't go through.

Although, despite the issues with Kemp's physical, CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman reported Thursday the trade with the Padres likely won't be derailed.


 
 
 
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