Aside from the Marcus Thames signing, it has sort of been a slow week for Yankee-related news. With the roster pretty much set, I thought I’d take this time to look into the magical crystal ball that can only be used to predict future baseball rosters. Curious about the 2015 Yankees? Look no further. Here is the season preview for the 2015 club:
Catcher: Austin Romine. When Jorge Posada retired in 2012, Romine quickly became a fan-favorite after winning a starting job in spring training. He hit .248 in his rookie season, but after working closely with special instructor Bernie Williams, Romine hit .286 the following year. Romine solidified his status as one of the better catchers in the league after hitting .290 with 17 home runs and winning his first Gold Glove award last season.
First Base: Mark Teixeira. The 34 year-old Teixeira has enjoyed a very productive career with the Yankees, averaging 155 games and 39 home runs in the first five years of his contract. He struggled in the second half of the 2014 season, hitting a paltry .258 after the All-Star break. Still, he managed to win his fifth gold glove award and will enter the season as the club’s cleanup hitter.
Second Base: Corban Josehph. Now 26 years-old and in his second major league season, Joseph was given a starting job after Brian Cashman traded Robinson Cano to the Cardinals for outfielder Colby Rasmus in July. The front office has always been a fan of Joseph’s work ethic and pure hitting, so making him the starting second baseman was an easy decision. Joseph hit .272 with three home runs before the trade, but went on to hit .284 in August and September.
Shortstop: Eduardo Nunez. Yankee fans have wondered for years about who would play shortstop after Derek Jeter retired, and now they know. Eduardo Nunez, in his third season with the Yankees will make the jump from bench player to full-time starter this season. The 27 year-old has been one of the club’s best minor league hitters since 2011 with he hit .344 for Triple-A Syracuse. Fans are still murmuring about Jeter’s tearful goodbye speech after the team’s ALCS elimination in Boston, and few will forget the standing ovation given to the future Hall of Famer by the Fenway Fanatics. It will be hard for Nunez to break out of Jeter’s shadow, but thanks to his superb defensive ability, he has the potential to do it.
Third Base: Alex Rodriguez. Now 39 years-old, A-Rod is the oldest member of the New York Yankees, but the grizzled veteran has taken both Corban Joseph and Colby Rasmus under his wing and taught them the fundamentals of Yankee life. Still one of the game’s premier hitters, Alex Rodriguez is only 29 homers away from breaking the career home run record set by Barry Bonds in 2007. Rodriguez posted a .284 batting average and hit 37 home runs in 2014 while helping lead the Yankees to the American League Wild Card.
Left Field: Carl Crawford. The speedy outfielder will enter his fifth season with the Yankees and there is no sign of him slowing down. After hitting .305 in 2012 and .314 in 2013, Crawford had a career year in 2014, posting a .341 AVG with 21 home runs and 78 stolen bases. He’s entering the final two years of his contract, but he will most likely be one of the more productive outfielders in 2015.
Center Field: Colby Rasmus. The 28 year-old center fielder was acquired by the Yankees for infielder Robinson Cano at the trade deadline last season and hit a two-run home run in his very first at-bat with the Bombers. He proceeded to struggle down the stretch, hitting .216 in August and September, but his defense was definitely an upgrade over the 36 year-old Aaron Rowand. Rasmus dealt well with the fan backlash, especially after lectures from Alex Rodriguez. Rasmus has reportedly spent the off-season revamping his swing, so he may be primed for a big year.
Right Field: Curtis Granderson. Entering his sixth season with the Yankees, Granderson has become one of the more popular players of the decade. Although his average dipped to .241 last season, Granderson smacked 34 home runs and stole 21 stolen bases for the Yankees. A favorite of the Bleacher Creatures, Granderson will need a big offensive season if he wants to get resigned by the Yankees.
Designated Hitter: Jesus Montero. The league’s best young designated hitter will enter his third full season with the Yankees. Montero won Rookie of the Year honors in 2012 and has yet to record a batting average under .290 in the majors. He’ll enter the season as the club’s best hitter after hitting .340 with 44 home runs.
The Bench: Brandon Inge will enter his second season as the Yankees backup catcher and third baseman. He will be joined by utility infielder Kevin Russo and pinch-runner extraordinaire Brett Gardner, now in his eighth season with the Yankees. Infielder Omar Infante and outfielder Ryan Langerhans will also compete for bench roles in spring training.
The Rotation: The 34 year-old CC Sabathia will anchor the rotation again this season after winning 19 games for the third straight year. Joba Chamberlain will help form the best 1-2 punch in the game after winning 17 games and posting a 2.93 ERA last year. Cole Hamels, entering his second season with the Yankees, will look to improve upon his 12-10 record and 4.52 ERA. Andrew Brackman will enter his second season in the Yankee rotation. Brackman, 29, posted an 11-8 record and 3.90 ERA in 189 innings last season. Newcomer Brandon Webb will round out the bottom of the rotation. Webb, who spent 2014 with the Mariners, went 9-12 with a 4.08 ERA in 202 innings.
The Bullpen: Dellin Betances supplanted Mark Melancon as the Yankee closer last season after recording 23 saves and posting a 2.41 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 46 innings. Melancon continued to struggle in the setup role, but pitched extremely well in the final two weeks of the season, allowing only three runs in his final 17 innings. Jeremy Bleich will resume his role as the situational lefty, while Ivan Nova, David Robertson and Ricky Nolasco will look to continue their success as middle inning relievers.The 38 year-old Tedd Lilly will try to make the club out of spring training as a long reliever.
The Coaching Staff: John Russell will enter his second season as the Yankee manager and will hope to build off his 2014 success. Although getting eliminated in the ALCS was disappointing, Hal Steinbrenner told reporters that he has plenty of faith in Russell’s potential. John Flaherty will also enter his second season as the team’s bench coach. Pitching Coach Dave Eiland and Hitting Coach Kevin Long will both remain as the longest tenured members of the coaching staff. Newcomers Tanyon Sturtze (Bullpen Coach), Cody Ransom (Third Base Coach) and Brian Giles (First Base Coach) will enter their first season as members of the Yankee coaching staff. Bernie Williams and Jason Giambi will likely serve as special instructors again in spring training.