For all the talk of cutting payroll, the New York Yankees still have four of the six highest-paid players in baseball on their roster. An injured Alex Rodriguez, an injured Mark Teixeira, a replacement player in the twilight of his career in Vernon Wells, and perhaps the only player who has earned his expensive salary, C.C. Sabathia, represent nearly 100 million dollars this year. They also represent limited production and two potentially season-ending injuries.
Tex could miss the entire season. A-Rod appears to be losing steam even if he returns and Vernon Wells is a desperate move to fill a void left by Curtis Granderson‘s injury. The Yankees are spending money, but it’s being wasted on aging, injury-prone players.
This year, their frivolous spending and age have caught up to them. The once-invincible Derek Jeter will begin the year on the DL after rushing his return, meaning three of the four starting infield positions will begin the year on the DL. Michael Pineda, whom the Yankees traded one of their top prospects for, is still out with arm problems. Even Mariano Rivera is coming off a season-ending injury last season.
The pitching rotation is thin, the lineup is hurting. The Yankees could be in trouble after divisional rivals loaded up in the offseason. The AL East is as competitive as ever, and the Yankees essentially enter the battle for the division title with one hand tied behind their back.
Still, it’s the Yankees.
The outfield has great speed with Brett Gardner healthy and Ichiro Suzuki re-signing after a great second half of the season in New York. When Curtis Granderson does return, the Yankee outfield could be the best in the American League. The infield will need to mitigate injuries. However, when they’re healthy about halfway through the season, the Yankees lineup will be fine.
The pitching rotation is certainly cause for concern. While the bullpen looks strong again, the rotation still looks weak. Sabathia could have another solid season, but age and depth will be a problem for New York.
If they can outhit their opponents, the Yankees will be fine this year. They have to wait out some serious injuries, and their pitching rotation needs to perform, but speed and a strong bullpen should give the Yankees a fighting chance to win the division in 2013.