(NOTE FROM GREY: Last week I sent out feelers to the top baseball team blogs to see if they would be generous enough to write a quick preview for their favorite team. So over the course of the next two weeks, mixed in with your daily fantasy info, you will get some of the most astute, in-depth coverage of teams around the major leagues for the upcoming 2008 season from the people that know these teams best. Each post will include a link to their site, please take time to visit these bloggers’ sites, because these posts are truly the tip of the iceberg for their team knowledge. Now enjoy the 2008 New York Yankees preview.)
The 2008 Yankees greatly resemble the team from the second half of 2007—a team which had a better winning percentage post all-star break than that of 1998—with the exception of a couple additions to the bullpen and a new manager.
The Yankees will likely compete with the Tigers for the best offense in the American League, but their starting pitching is heavily dependent on young pitchers that have a lot of expectations on their shoulders. They have no proven ace yet, but many think Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain could eventually fill this roll. However, Joba will be starting the season in the bullpen, which is both a testament to his excellence out of the pen and the uncertainties the Yankees have in that area.
If they stay healthy, and everyone on the Yankees, especially the young talent, plays up to their full potential, the Yankees could be the team to beat, but that’s assuming a lot works out, and without considering the growing pains they’re likely to experience, especially with Joe Girardi in his first year as Yankees’ manager.
For the Fantasy Buffs:
Likely Opening Day Line-Up:
1. Johnny Damon, LF: Much better in left than center or DH. Solid lead off guy, when he’s healthy. Good speed. Doesn’t hit much for power.
2. Derek Jeter, SS: Clutch athlete, but not likely to do a whole lot for your fantasy team outside of hits. Doesn’t hit for power. Smart baserunner. Declining fielder.
3. Bobby Abreu, RF: Underrated, slow start last year due to injury. Will get you 100 RBI, with some power. Strong arm, but not the best outfielder. Not a bad addition to your line-up.
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B: MUST HAVE. Lead the league in Home Runs and RBI last year, and while he might not equal the numbers, he’s likely a lock to hit at least 40 HR and 100 RBI. Underrated fielder. Stays healthy. Should go #1 or 2 for non-pitchers in your draft.
5. Jorge Posada, C: Coming off of career year. Unlikely to repeat his .330, 20 HR season, but he’ll give you some solid hits and good defense behind the plate. Switch hitter. 36 years old. Mauer is likely a better fantasy pick for catcher, but Jorge is invaluable for the Yankees.
6. Jason Giambi, DH: Missed much time last year with a foot injury. Better player the more he plays. Not the Giambi of Oakland As.
7. Shelley Duncan 1B: Sleeper pick. Wasn’t supposed to hit as well on Major League level as he has and he has shown a good eye. Will likely be in a 1B platoon, still learning the position.
8. Robinson Canò, 2B: One of the best 2B in the league. Hits for average and power. Good fielder that can look sloppy at times. Slow on the basepath and doesn’t make good baseruning decisions.
9. Melky Cabrera, CF: Solid CF. Doesn’t hit for power, but a good hitter for the nine spot. Doesn’t hit for average, but can bunt and sac RBI. Great arm but takes bad routes to the ball on occasion. Switch hitter.
Chien Ming Wang: Will find ways to wind games, sinker ball pitcher, but high ERA and WHIP. Not a good addition for a fantasy team, though he is working on improving his strikeout totals.
Andy Pettitte: Solid left hander. If he’s healthy, he’s an excellent, dependable addition, but he’s been known to have elbow issues. Press is likely to attempt to make HGH issue a distraction.
Mike Mussina: Coming off a bad year and horrible August. Can’t make any mistakes or gets hammered. Probably the weakest link in the Yankees’ rotation.
Phil Hughes: Prized ‘rookie’, who’s not technically a rookie any more. Excellent make-up, and projected to put up big numbers. However, he’s young and untested over the full course of the season. Under innings cap and potential injury concern.
Ian Kennedy: Sleeper Pick. Of the Yankees’ “big three” he is supposed to be the most polished. Location pitcher. Untested.
Mariano Rivera: One of the game’s best closers. Elite. Usually has a poor April, but will be an excellent strikeout pitcher.
Kyle Farnsworth: Inconsistent. Overpowering fastball, but poor location.
LaTroy Hawkins: New addition. Low risk, high-reward type signing.
Joba Chamberlain: Had a 0.38 ERA last year out of the bullpen, giving up one home run to Mike Lowell. Great for strikeout totals. Loses effectiveness in second inning of work.
Wilson Betemit: Can play all infield positions, but a weak hitter. Has some power from the left, but none from the right.
Hideki Matsui: Left fielder, coming off of a bad knee injury. Might start season on the DL. Okay fielder, good hitting addition if he gets regular playing time.
Jose Molina: Excellent back up catcher. Great defensively and good enough with the bat. Doesn’t hit for a ton of power but will get doubles. Too slow for triples.
Morgan Ensberg: Sleeper pick. Had All Star numbers before injuring his shoulder. If he fully recovers, he could be an excellent addition.