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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
Padres' Jedd Gyorko belts go-ahead home run in win Thursday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:49 am ET) Padres infielder Jedd Gyorko provided the biggest hit of the night in the 10-7 win over the Dodgers on Thursday. Gyorko, who went 2 for 4 on the night, blasted a two-run home run in the eighth inning to turn a 7-6 deficit into an 8-7 lead. 

The home run was Gyorko's 11th of the season, and he is now batting .316 with three homers and nine RBI over his last 10 games. 


Padres' Yangervis Solarte busts out of slump with four-hit night
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:45 am ET) Padres utility man Yangervis Solarte had quite a night at the plate on Thursday. Batting from the lead-off spot in the order, Solarte went 4 for 5 with two doubles, a home run, two RBI and three runs scored.

Solarte saved his biggest hits for late in the game. In the seventh inning, he crushed a pitch to deep left field for his 12th homer of the season--a solo shot which brought the Padres to within a run. 

In the next inning, he laced an RBI-double to pad the Padres' lead to their final score of 10-7 in the victory over the Dodgers. 

Solarte was in need of a big offensive performance, as he entered the game stuck in a 4-for-26 skid.


Padres SP Colin Rea holds his own against Dodgers on Thursday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:40 am ET) Padres rookie starter Colin Rea pitched well on Thursday, but was unable to hang around long enough to get a win against the Dodgers. Rea went five innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He walked two and struck out a career-high six batters. He was handed a no-decision in the 10-7 victory.

Rea was staked to an early 4-0 lead after the second inning, and he was able to keep the Dodgers off the board over the first four frames. But he allowed two runs to score in his final inning of work, though he left with a two-run lead.

The bullpen coughed up that lead, costing Rea a chance for his third big-league win. 


Struggles for Dodgers' Mat Latos continue on Thursday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:35 am ET) Dodgers starter Mat Latos turned in another subpar performance on Thursday against the Padres. Latos allowed four runs on eight hits over four innings.

Latos gave up a pair of runs in each of the first two innings, which continues a troubling trend for the veteran right-hander. Coming into the game, Latos owned a 5.46 ERA over the first three innings of his starts in 2015.

The Dodgers got Latos off the hook in this one, as they were able to rally back to take a lead in the middle innings. They would wind up losing the game 10-7, however.

Latos has now failed to go at least five innings in each of his last four starts, allowing at least four runs in three of those outings. He is still seeking his first win as a member of the Dodgers.


Tigers option RP Guido Knudson to make room for Ferrell, Machado
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:37 am ET) Following Thursday's blowout loss, the Tigers optioned reliever Guido Knudson to Triple-A Toledo

Knudson has not had a good start to his young career, as he owns a 18.00 ERA through four relief appearances since his first call-up to the big leagues back on Aug. 22. He has been scored upon in all four of his outings.

In related moves, the Tigers will recall pitcher Jeff Ferrell and infielder Dixon Machado from Toledo prior to Friday's game. 


Ausmus: Tigers SS Jose Iglesias (finger) could be out for a while
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:35 am ET) Brad Ausmus has declared that Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias, who injured his right middle finger on a hit-by-pitch Thursday, will miss "more than a couple days," per MLive.com. It remains to be seen if he's placed on the disabled list.

Iglesias is on a four-game hitting streak and has been steady for Detroit this season in compiling a slash line of .300/.347/.370.


Kendrys Moralres powers Royals to victory with four hits, four RBI
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:25 am ET) In a game where his team scored a more than two touchdowns-worth of runs, Royals designated hitter Kendrys Morales had a terrific night at the plate. Morales went 4 for 5 with a double, four RBI and three runs scored in the 15-7 pounding of the Tigers.

The veteran slugger got the Royals on the board in the first inning, when he ripped a two-run single. He added a two-run double in the seventh and was a key component to the big win on Thursday.

Morales has been rolling lately, batting .441 with three doubles, four homers and 13 RBI over his last nine games.


Tigers' Matt Boyd can't get through the second, gets lit up Thursday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:19 am ET) Tigers starter Matt Boyd turned in another poor outing on Thursday, as he was unable to record an out in the second inning before leaving the game. Boyd allowed six runs on seven hits and two walks, en route to the 15-7 thrashing by the Royals.

Boyd was staked to a 3-0 lead before he even took the mound. But he allowed two runs in the bottom of the first and four more in the second, with the big blow being a three-run homer by Lorezno Cain. The Tigers managed to rally back to tie the game, taking Boyd off the hook.

Boyd, whose ERA rose to 8.36 following Thursday's performance, has allowed at least five runs in three of his six starts with the Tigers since coming over in a trade from the Blue Jays. 


Torrid Rockies RF Carlos Gonzalez goes yard twice again
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:18 am ET) There is no synonym in the thesaurus for "hot" that can adequately describe the tear Rockies right fielder Carlos Gonzalez is on these days.

Gonzalez continued his sizzling stretch Thursday night against San Francisco by slamming two home runs, a double and a single. He slammed two-run taters in both the first and fourth innings.

He has six hits, including four home runs, in his last two games. He has scored five runs and driven in 11 in that short stretch.

Gonzalez now boasts a slugging percentage of .563 that has risen more than 100 points over the last six weeks.


Royals SP Edinson Volquez suffers rare poor start on Thursday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(12:16 am ET) Royals starter Edinson Volquez scuffled in his latest outing against the Tigers on Thursday. The right-hander allowed six runs on eight hits over three innings, snapping a string of nine straight starts with at least six innings pitched.

Volquez, whose ERA rose to 3.53, have up three runs in the very first inning, including a solo home run to Anthony Gose to lead off the game. But the Royals rallied back to give Volquez a 6-2 lead after the second inning.

He has given up more than three runs just three times in his last 12 starts. The six runs allowed Thursday are the most he's given up since June 2014.


 
 
 
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