Thursday, March 1, 2012

2012 MLB Preview: New York Yankees

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-Digger's Daily-

Yankees GM Cashman had one clear priority after getting bounced by Detroit in ALDS. Starting pitching. Joining slimmed down staff ace CC Sabathia in the 2012 rotation figures to be newcomers Michael Pineda & Hiroki Kuroda. Two immediate impact style pitchers. Ian Nova hopes to improve on a solid rookie season (16-4). Phil Hughes is odds on favorite to nail down the fifth slot this spring.

Pineda represents the Yankees future. He has much to live up to after New York traded their top slugging prospect Jesus Montero to Seattle for Pineda. MP hurls ace material - often kept hitters flailing at great pitches. He surrendered just 133 hits in 171 innings complemented with 173 punch outs. He's a keeper unless short fences at Yankee Stadium prove unfriendly.

Yanks offense swings for the fences way too much. This is a 100 win team if hitters hit. New York's lineup is nightmare material for opposing pitchers. Jeter, Granderson, Cano, Rodriguez, Teixeira, Swisher, Gardner, Martin and new DH Ibanez. All potential .300 hitters. Nothing is more disappointing to Yankees fans when watching runners stranded in scoring position due to hitters not putting the bat on the ball. Way to many empty swings in 2011. Home runs are nice but when a single will do - as is the case most often - then put the ball in play.

Soon to be first ballot Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera enters his final MLB season. Baseball's best ever closer would love to leave the game on top. Yankees bullpen has been a sore spot in recent years attempting to protect leads for Rivera to save. Not much help came during off season. Robertson shines. Joba's coming back from major injuries. Soriano was once the heir apparent to Rivera but bombed miserably in during debut Yankee season. Logan is their situational lefty. Basically, the same cast of characters from last season have much to prove. Yankees are hoping new look rotation goes deeper in games offering needed rest for a bullpen over worked throughout 2011.

AL East is stacked with four solid teams. Boston, Tampa and Toronto should not be taken lightly. That said, this aging Yanks team is still tops.

Prediction: Yanks will go as far as starting rotation takes them. ARod needs a bounce back season at the plate. This is a 95+ win team unless injuries attack veteran performers. Not sold on Ibanez/Jones DH combo - except for relatively cheap price. Should be another exciting year in the Bronx.

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