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MLB: New York Yankees 2014 Season Outlook

Derek Jeter, New York Yankees short stop Image: wikipedia Derek Jeter, New York Yankees short stop

October 30, 2013 is long gone and will never be revisited in reality. It can be revisited as far as MLB History is concerned through all media outlets. That was the day the Boston Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, 4 games to 2, to capture their eight world-series title in franchise history. If you're a Red Sox fan, you enjoyed it, you celebrated it and you relished it. Your team just won the World Series and that feat is something you probably savored, especially at the expense of the New York Yankees.

The Red Sox and the Yankees produce the greatest rivalry in sports all-together, and with the Red Sox winning the most recent championship, it's only fitting that the Yankees re-modified and improved their roster to make a championship run of their own. I mean it's what the Yankees do. They are no stranger to winning titles, they own 27 of them, the most in MLB history.

Due to the Yankees rich history, their fan-base is nothing short of spoiled and this year will be even worse regarding the off-season the Yankees have been able to organize and subject their fans to for 2014. Brian McCann signed a five-year $85 million-dollar contract on November 23, 2013 to sport the pinstripes for the foreseeable future. A future Hall-Of-Famer and now the age-less wonder in Carlos Beltran brings his excellence to the Bronx agreeing to a three-year $45 million-dollar contract on December 6, 2013. Jacoby Ellsbury elected to switch his red sox for navy blue ones, leaving the red sox for the Bronx bombers, collecting $153 million dollars over the course of seven years, confirmed December 3, 2013. Utility man Kelly Johnson brings his bat and many gloves to the Bronx for one year worth $3 million, also signed in December 2013. Brian Roberts's heads brings his wisdom to the infield for one year and $2 million dollars and Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka joins the association for seven years at $155 million dollars.

That's an expensive off-season class, warranted at the expense of losing Robinson Cano to the Seattle Mariners, who signed on to be a sailor for $240 million dollars. It's difficult to lose a player with the magnitude of a Cano but in doing so, the Yankees were able to spend the money they would've spent on Cano in other necessary and dire places. I think it worked out for the best and the Yankees will be able to add those pieces along with the personnel already in place.

Like that free-agent class, other headlines the Yankees have occupied regard the fact that this will be "The Captain", Derek Jeter's final season manning shortstop for the Yankees. The 13-time All-Star and 5-time world champion announced on February 12, 2014, that the upcoming 2014 season would be his last. Jeter will be the last of the prolific "Core Four", which features Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, all of whom are held responsible for the Yankees dynasty beginning in the late 90's to the 2000s. These four all made their major league debuts in the year of 1995. Pettitte retired twice in years 2011 and 2013, while Posada retired in 2012 and Rivera in 2013. 14' will be for Jeter. At his advanced age of 39, questions regarding Jeter will surface all pertaining to production. Can he still man the shortstop position? Can he still bat effectively and not be a 0 in the lineup? If Jeter can bat above a .250 average hit 15 homeruns and drive home 70 RBI's, the Yankees will appreciate his efforts as this year will be a celebration of his career, as backups in Brendan Ryan and Eduardo Nunez will serve as insurance.

Other than Jeter, Ellsbury, Beltran, Teixeira, McCann, Alfonso Soriano, Brett Gardner, Johnson and Roberts will join him in the opening day lineup. Teixeira's last two seasons have been sabotaged by a number of injuries which include wrist inflammation, calf strain and a strained wrist tendon. Those injuries have limited Teixeira's time on the field, participating in only 15 games in 2013 and 123 in 2012. As much as the Yankees would greatly welcome the Teixeira who hit 39 homeruns, drove in 122 RBI's all while batting .292 with 707 plate appearances in his first initial season with the Yankees in 2009, Teixeira's 2011 production of 156 games, with 684 plate appearances batting .248, launching 39 homeruns and 111, RBI's would be sufficient enough to solidify his spot within the lineup, if he stays healthy.

The Yanks signed Ellsbury because he is capable of 32 homeruns, a .321 batting average, driving in 105 runs, while appearing in +150 games, a stat line that presents his 2011 season, which is what they should expect, especially at a cost of $153 million over the course of 7 years. Beltran has yet to display signs of rust, now at 36 as he achieved his 8th All-Star award last season. McCann is in his prime and can further enhance his legacy in pinstripes as long as he continues to slug homeruns, hitting 20 homeruns or more in seven of his nine year career thus far. Gardner, Suzuki and Soriano all make up significant chunks of the outfield as Roberts, Johnson and Ryan will all take turns defending the infield.

On paper, the hitters the Yankees contain suggest a trip to the postseason with a chance to earn a World Series berth, but no team can obtain those opportunities without pitching. The 5-man starting rotation the Yankees will exhibit this season features: CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda. CC is now Slim-Slim and much believe the loss in mass will result in less velocity. All in all, Sabathia's days of winning 19 games are over, and with the decrease in velocity, CC will have to become a different pitcher, pitching smarter, using location and the variety of pitches he has at his disposal to hopefully avoid the 4.78 ERA, he produced last season being the highest earned run total of his career.

Kuroda has been Mister Reliable for the Yankees, pitching over 200 innings in his last three seasons, two of which have been with the Yankees. Continue that. We will all observe when Tanaka takes the mound every 5th day, and even though his 99 wins opposed to 35 losses with an average ERA of 2.30 was not attained in the MLB but the Japanese League, for what he's being paid and a quotable which Tanaka expresses, "I don't speak English, so I'll just have to win the trust and confidence of the fans with my performance on the field," it compels me to believe that he wants to excel.

I think he will. Nova and Pineda have what it takes to anchor the back end of the rotation, and I think they will. The questions and skepticism should be targeted at the Yankees bullpen. How will that group hold up? Can they survive with the absence of Mariano Rivera forever and ever? Can David Robertson be the successor of Rivera? I believe in Robertson but setup man in Dellin Betances struggles with control posting a 10.80 ERA and Mid-reliever Matt Thornton is on the decline at 37 years old among others. There is no sure win now with a modified bullpen without the consistent dominance of Rivera, but other arms will have to suffice. I think the Yankees are capable of 90 wins despite having a lineup which features no one player under the age of 30. The Yankees need youth, but this is not a rebuilding year. You know the Yankees. They insert talent as much as they output and this year is no different. The offseason damage for the Yankees translates to $503 million dollars. For a team in the media market of the world with a precedent pre-established on nothing short of excellence, mediocre won't do. More like brilliance.