The 2012 New York Yankees won 95 games, an AL East Title and made it to the ALDS. For most teams, that would be a great season; the Yankees aren’t most teams and by their standards, the season was a failure.
In the past when the Yankees have failed, the philosophy has been simple, go out and buy a championship. With the new regime, things are different in the Bronx; the organization no longer will go on spending sprees.
Is it the right way? Was it the wrong time to suddenly take this chance? Did Brian Cashman solidify the Yankees roster again this year with his bargain buying? Right now there is no answer to any of those questions, which should make this Spring Training the most exciting in years.
The off-season has been unique, and at times boring, but Cashman has a plan. Will it work? Who knows, but it is not time to bash him; he always seems to find a way to put together a winning team. On paper it is hard to say what or who they Yankees will be in 2013, but there is one definite – they have a lot of questions. The Yankees also have a pretty decent roster; a roster, as a whole, that never had the opportunity to play to their full potential in 2012, because of all the injuries. Even with those injuries, the Yankees won the division and made it to the ALDS. If the 2013 Yankees can stay healthy, there is a lot for fans to be optimistic about.
The Yankees will start the season with a healthy Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner, and Ichiro Suzuki. At times last season they were lucky to have five regulars in the lineup. All teams lose players to injuries. For the Yankees to have success, they have to limit the injury bug.
The Yankees did lose players off last year’s squad, the biggest being right-fielder Nick Swisher, another player gone from last season is post-season hero Raul Ibanez, catcher Russell Martin, pitcher Freddy Garcia and reliever Rafael Soriano.
Losing Swisher and Soriano stings, as both players played very important roles last season, but they are replaceable and the Yankees didn’t have to sign anyone new to replace them. They just needed a few players to get healthy; for starters, future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera, who will take his job back as closer, and Gardner, who is capable of putting up better all-around numbers than Swisher.
It was a quiet off-season, but that doesn’t mean the Yankees didn’t get better. The savvy Cashman always finds players; in addition, the Yankees also have a nice core coming back.
Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte both signed on for another year, which is great for the starting rotation. That’s one first-ballot Hall of Famer and another player that has a chance at the honor, coming back, so instead of looking at the negative, it is time to get excited Yankee fans, because the fun has just begun.
The Yankees biggest off-season signing was Kevin Youkilis. Youkilis was brought in to hold down the hot-corner, until Alex Rodriguez returned from his hip injury. Things have since changed a lot in that area, so Youkilis will now play a much larger role than the team had expected when they signed him.
The Yankees also added depth, signing Matt Diaz and Travis Hafner. Hafner was signed for a few reasons, the biggest being the questions surrounding Rodriguez. Hafner may have been signed anyway, but Rodriguez’s problems surely made it an easier call for the Yankees, with the need for a veteran that can platoon at DH, when Girardi gives his starters a day off from the field.
The sleeper signing is 28-year-old right-handed pitcher Shawn Kelley; he is raw but will strengthen the Yankees’ pen. Kelley has very good control and he keeps the ball down; these are positives for a pitcher in Yankee Stadium.
These role players may not seem important in February, but they will be in September. If the Yankees did not have guys like this last season, the team would have fallen apart. Injuries will again be a major concern in 2013 and every player on this roster may again be called upon. Although it may have not seemed like a productive off-season, Cashman again mixed the old with the new. This will have the Yankees prepared for any scenario.
Nik Swartz is the Featured Columnist for the New York Yankees follow him on Twitter https://twitter.com/Sweetnesz13