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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
Mets pitcher Matt Harvey may be dealing with 'dead arm'
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(8:16 pm ET) Mets pitcher Matt Harvey may be adding insult to injury after the worst start of his career on Saturday. The young pitcher may be dealing with "dead arm," manager Terry Collins said per the N.Y. Daily News.

"I have not talked to Matt yet, but it looks like he might be going through some of that dead arm stuff that sometimes happens. This might help him to have an extra day to get him back on track," said Collins, referring to Thursday’s off day. "He's going to pitch Friday with five days rest, be ready to go."

The team expected these types of bumps in the road in his first season back from Tommy John surgery and didn't send him for futher medical evaluation. Harvey gave up seven runs on six hits in just four innings of work on Saturday.


Red Sox 3B Pablo Sandoval abandons switch-hitting for at-bat
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(8:14 pm ET) Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who has missed the last five games with a knee injury, was called upon to pinch-hit Sunday against Angels lefty Cesar Ramos, and surprised everyone by lacing an RBI single while hitting left-handed.

Sandoval told MLB.com that the lefty-lefty matchup was a one-off due to his knee soreness and that when healthy, he would continue to switch-hit despite hitting just 2-for-41 from the right side this season. 

"It feels kind of weird, but I got the job done," Sandoval said. "It's one of those things, I'm going to try to help the team, no matter what. I don't feel great hitting right-handed because of my knee, so I'll just try to keep the momentum going hitting left-handed."

Sandoval said he hopes to be in Boston's lineup Monday if his knee cooperates. 


Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka tosses bullpen session Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(8:10 pm ET) Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka was able to throw a 31-pitch bullpen session on Sunday and feels prepared for his next rehab start on Wednesday, according to NJ.com.

"I feel pretty good about where I am right now," Tanaka said through Japanese translator Shingo Horie. "But basically I'm going to go where the team wants me to go to. The most important thing is for me to be able to come back strong enough to go on the mound and contribute to the team."

Tanaka is currently on the 15-day DL with a wrist injury, but said he may be able to rejoin the team without making a third rehab start if all goes well on Wednesday. Tanaka is 2-1 with a 3.22 ERA in 22 1/3 innings of work.


Rangers' Josh Hamilton to play left field when activated
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(8:02 pm ET) Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton is expected to play left field on Monday when he is activated, manager Jeff Banister said on Sunday per the Dallas Morning News.

"We're going to open our arms and give him a great big hug and welcome him," Banister said of Hamilton. "And then we're going to treat him like he's one of 25, just like we do with everybody else."

Hamilton is expected to bat in the middle of the order, most likely fifth behind Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre. 

"We want him to come in and be one of the guys, enjoy the game," Beltre said. "We know what we can do. We don't expect him to come in and carry the offense. That's not going to be his job. With the guys we have, he doesn't have to do that."


Mariners 2B Robinson Cano working through struggles
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7:55 pm ET) Robinson Cano is one of the game's best players, but he's been embroiled in a season-long slump for the Mariners, one that has seen his usually solid batting average dip to .247. Cano told MLB.com that he has "no excuses" for his slow start. 

Cano went 0-for-11 in the Mariners' three-game series at Toronto, and Sunday, twice hit into double plays to kill potential big innings for Seattle. 

"I don't know. I feel good. I'm swinging at good balls," Cano said. "I think it's just more just missing my pitches, pitches right down the middle that I've been hitting for foul balls. There's no excuses for that. I'm just struggling."

Cano's on-base percentage is .290, below his career average of .356. 

"The last thing I want to do is hang my head. It's a long season," he said. "And hopefully it'll turn soon."


Padres' Will Middlebrooks hits fifth HR of season
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7:40 pm ET) Padres third baseman Will Middlebrooks hit a solo home run to left center field in the top of the third inning of Sunday afternoon's 11-3 victory over the Dodgers. 

The homer was Middlebrooks' fifth of the season. He's now slashing .218/.255/.376.

Middlebrooks finished the game 2 for 5 and also had a single. It's his third two-hit showing in his past five games. In this span, Middlebrooks is hitting .316. 


Padres OF Justin Upton hits grand slam against Dodgers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7:35 pm ET) There is a clear reason why the Padres have Justin Upton hitting cleanup. 

In the first inning of Sunday's 11-3 win over the Dodgers, Upton hit a grand slam. Dodgers pitcher Carlos Frias loaded the bases and Upton cleared them with a deep shot to center field on a 2-2 pitch. 

This helped set the tempo of San Diego's barrage of hits and runs for the day. 

Upton finished the game 2 for 4 with six RBI. He also hit a two-run double in the second inning. Upton now has 35 RBI for the season. 

Upton is now slashing .284/.343/.562. 


SS Jose Reyes in Blue Jays clubhouse, expected off DL Monday
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7:34 pm ET) Jose Reyes was in the Blue Jays' clubhouse after their victory over Seattle on Sunday, a positive sign that the shortstop will indeed come off the disabled list Monday, per the Associated Press

Reyes, who has been sidelined since April 27 with a rib injury, played in three rehab games at Triple-A Buffalo over the weekend, setting the stage for his return. 

In 60 games this season, Reyes is hitting .250/.266/.300 with three stolen bases.


Padres' Will Venable, Cory Spangenberg combine for 7 hits
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7:27 pm ET) As a team, the Padres posted 20 hits in Sunday afternoon's 11-3 win over the Dodgers. 

Outfielder Will Venable and infielder Cory Spangenberg combined for seven of those hits in the win. Venable went 4 for 5 and scored three runs while Spangenberg went 3 for 5 with one run scored. 

Despite the barrage of hits and runs, neither recorded an RBI. 

For Venable, this marked the first time this season and the ninth time in his career that he's recorded four hits in a game. Venable now has a slash line of .292/.354/.472. 

This is the second time Spangenberg has recorded a three-hit game. He's slashing .236/.296/.371. 


Dodgers' Alex Guerrero hits homer in loss
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7:19 pm ET) Dodgers third baseman Alex Guerrero blasted a two-run homer in the seventh inning of Sunday afternoon's 11-3 loss to the Padres. 

Guerrero took a 1-0 pitch deep to center field for the home run off of Padres pitcher James Shields. Guerrero finished the day 1 for 4 with two strikeouts. Guerrero is slashing .300/.329/.638 for the season but is only hitting a batting average of .235 in his last five games. 


 
 
 
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