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Pete and Dev collaborated on this New York Yankees Fantasy Preview.
Dev: Since their 6-4 loss in Game 4 to the Cleveland Indians in the 2007 ALDS, a sense of urgency has been running rampant in the Bronx. The team appeared in turmoil as the archrival Boston Red Sox rose to the top, winning their second World Series title in four seasons. Then the aging, borderline senile George Steinbrenner ran one of the most successful and respected managers in the game, Joe Torre, out of New York. Quickly after signing former Yankee catcher Joe Girardi as the new skipper, the Yanks turned to keep their prized icons off the market. Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettitte all seemed to be relatively easy re-signs but superstar Alex Rodriguez and his agent Scott Boras had other ideas. A-Rod opted out of his contract and seemed to be leaving the Bronx too. He later signed a record $275 milion, 10-year deal with the club claiming that he never wanted to leave and the idea of him leaving was the doing of the evil Boras. Add a little Clemens steroid scandal, sprinkle it with some Pettitte and you are up to speed on the 2008 Yankees. Will all this controversy affect your fantasy team if you choose to draft some of the Evil Empire?
Pete: As Red Sox fans we are taught to hate the Yankees at a very early age. Whether you hate them for who they are or if you hate them purely because you are a Sox fan, you can’t ignore the numbers that their players put up year after year. With the departure of Joe Torre, odds are we will see some slight changes to the team’s approach but, you can and will get the same production from the offense and from the pitching. Lets dive in!
Alex Rodriguez, 3B: I think I’ve heard of this guy. Youngest to 500 HR? Ten straight seasons of at least 35 Home runs? Best player in the game? World Series champion……well, three out four aint bad. There is no doubt that A-Rod is the consensus #1 pick in any draft. Average, runs, HR, RBI, and even a healthy number of stolen bases makes A-Rod the best in fantasy land. Expect exactly what you think he will get.
Derek Jeter, SS: Hate him all you want for whatever reason you have. The man is a born leader and as consistent as you can get in baseball. The SS position this season is a lot more shallow that it used to be so Jeter’s value goes up a little for that purpose. The only criticism you can give the man is that he doesn’t steal as many bases as he used to. In the Yankee offense, he wills score plenty of runs and have more than his share of RBI opportunities.
Hideki Matsui, OF: Somebody at SportsofBoston has a man crush on Matsui, *cough* Dan *cough*. For those that miss out on the big power hitters early on in drafts, Matsui is a great option. Excluding his 2006 season where he was injured, Matsui has drive in over 100 RBI each season with New York. He also has a more than serviceable average that will hover in the .280′s range to go along with good power. I believe that he only drives in that many runs each year because he is in the Yankee offense. Barring any setbacks, expect production from Matsui.
Robinson Cano, 2B: If you’re a 2B in MLB, it’s Chase Utley’s world and you’re just living in it. For those not lucky enough to strike 2B gold with Chase, there are many more options than you would think at this typically shallow position. Cano will come cheaper than Utley with arguably, a much better cast around him. This kid has been a monster since coming to the bigs and he’s only getting better. He’s got the power potential and average. And again, being on the Yankees means there will be men on base increasing his RBI totals. The on-base could be better (.353), and he had large spike in strikeouts last season (85). That said, he’s gotta work on his patience at the plate. I expect a small spike in stolen bases; Girardi likes small ball, he’s got the whole team working on their baserunning. Look for his coming out party this season.
Bobby Abreu, OF: Once a legitimate threat at the 40/40 club, Abreu’s power has faded away year after year. That isn’t to say that he still cant be productive. Even as he gets older, he is still stealing bases. He has 20+ in every season since 1999. He is a patient hitter who has a career OBP of .408. His patience at the plates leads to him scoring more runs. The power wont reach the 20 mark again but you can bank on most everything else.
Jorge Posada, C: Aren’t contract years great? How else would explain a career .277 hitter turning out a .338 AVG. Actually, other than average, the other numbers were right on par with his other marks. The catcher position is another shallow area. Posada can give you at least 20 homers and 90 RBI in that lineup. Just don’t expect another run at a batting title anytime soon.
Johnny Damon, OF: It’s not clear which position any of the outfielders will play. Only Abreu is set in RF. Melky is most likely going to be in CF. As far as Damon and Matsui are concerned they will be splitting DH time with Jason Giambi. Johnny doesn’t go on the DL much but it doesn’t mean he’s durable per se, playing with injuries doesn’t make it better than a DL stint if you aren’t playing at a high level. I think his ability to stay healthy is waning and thus, so is his fantasy relevance. He’s a good source of pop and speed. In 5×5 leagues, I would covet him more than in leagues with more categories such as the Sports of Boston league.
Jason Giambi, 1B/DH: Everyone’s favorite meathead is looking to rebound from an injury riddled, statistically abysmal 2007. The bad news however, that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. The Yankees quest for the dreaded, fantasy-killing platoon partner continues with Shelley Duncan, Wilson Betemit and Johnny Damon all in the mix. Giambi is bad on his own from a fantasy standpoint, but in a platoon he is useless. And this is assuming he can stay healthy! Don’t bother drafting him unless you are starved for
juice power. There are MUCH better options at 1B, which is one of the deeper positions lately. Leave him for the hopeful Yankees fan in your league. Need numbers? Chew on this: In his seven seasons in Oakland, he averaged .304, in New York he hit .255 over six seasons. Steroids are a bitch.
Chien-Ming Wang, SP: The sinker-baller turned out another great season in 2007 racking up 19 wins for the 2nd year in a row. Wang gives you wins and quality innings but his only downfall are minuscule K’s. In 199.1 innings last season he struck out 104 batters and the year before, he struck out only 76 in 218 innings. He will definitely get run support which will lead to the wins. Just make sure you draft an Erik Bedard, John Lackey, or any starter than can even out Wang’s low K totals.
Andy Pettitte, SP: Will the events of the offseason effect Pettitte’s performance? Only time will tell. Until then, I say that Pettitte is one year older and I don’t think he has much left in the tank. The man does consistently give you 200+ innings and will usually make 30+ starts. In that offense he has the ability to get the wins. The strikeouts are decent but, the ERA will rise. He’s turning 36 people, it is time to seek a younger option.
OTHERS OF NOTE
Phil Hughes, SP: After getting injured, Hughes had a shaky August but, then he turned it on in September by posting an ERA if 2.73 and going 3-0. The youngster has not had a full season’s experience and has a lot to learn in the majors. Proceed with caution.
Joba Chamberlain, RP: Joba The Hutt turned lots of heads in 2007 by allowing only one run in 24 innings and striking out 34. Odds are he is starting the season in the bullpen. If and/or when he hits the rotation, can he apply his skills to being a starter? Ride his great relief skills until he becomes a starter, then pay attention to how he settles into that role.