Legends On Deck

New York Yankees: How They Were Built

2015 New York Yankees

The New York Yankees missed the postseason for the second straight year.  After finishing 84-78 in 2014, the New York Yankees were unusually quite this offseason when it came to spending big on free agents.  Instead they made some trades to fill holes and get a little younger in the process.  It will be odd this year as the New York Yankees are going to be without Derek Jeter for the first time in 20 years.

Starting Pitchers

C.C. Sabathia – Signed as a free agent in 2008 with the New York Yankees.  Currently playing out a five-year $122 million contract extension that was signed in 2011.  Carsten Charles is entering his 15th year in the major leagues.  2015 will be his seventh for the New York Yankees.  He owns a career record of 208-119 and an ERA of 3.63 in 423 games.  Sabathia was limited to eight starts in 2014 and ended up missing a large portion of the season due to knee surgery.  He is making progress this spring and threw a simulated game on March 12th and left with no pain or discomfort.  The Yankees rotation isn’t particularly deep with Sabathia in it, and it is much worse without him.  Their success depends on the health of the 6’7 lefty.

Masahiro Tanaka – Signed a seven-year $155 million free agent contract with the Yankees in 2014.  The Japanese import was enjoying plenty of success in the major leagues until an elbow injury sidelined him.  He made 20 starts in 2014 and had a record of 13-5 and an ERA of 2.77.  He stormed on the scene and seemed to be enroute to a 20-win season until it was cut short.  Like Sabathia, there is a lot riding on the right arm of Tanaka in 2015 and as long as he stays healthy he more than up for the challenge.

Michael Pineda – Acquired in a trade with the Seattle Mariners in 2012.  It is really hard to tell what the Yankees have with Pineda because he hasn’t pitched a full season for them yet.  In fact in the two years he has been in the major leagues he has made 41 starts and has a record of 14-15 with an ERA of 3.17.  He did make 13 starts in 2014 with an ERA of 1.89, but with a record of 5-5 it appears as if he wasn’t getting much help with offense.  There are plenty of questions marks throughout this team and Pineda is one as well.  If he pitches a full season he could win 12-15 games as long as they give him some runs.

Nathan Eovaldi – Acquired in a trade with the Miami Marlins in 2014.  One of the things that has been a knock on the Yankees with the spending and overspending on free agents was that they weren’t getting any younger.  Brian Cashman did his part and made a few trades in hopes to change that trend.  Eovaldi is 25-years old and hasn’t really had the chance to play for a good team yet in his career.  The Yankees may not be that now, but with some of the moves they make they could be in the near future.  In four major leagues seasons, Eovaldi is 15-35 with an ERA of 4.07.

Adam Warren – Drafted in the fourth round of the 2009 amateur draft by the New York Yankees.  Warren doesn’t have much experience as a starter (three starts in 104 games) but with the injuries to other starters and trades this offseason, he very well could take the final spot in the rotation.  He is off to a good start this spring going 2-0 and an ERA of 1.80, but that’s only for five innings of work.

Bullpen

Dellin Betances (CL) – Drafted in the eighth round of the 2006 amateur draft by the New York Yankees.  For the time being Betances is listed as the closer for the Yankees.  He made 70 appearances last season posting a record of 5-0 and an ERA of 1.40, and he made the All-Star team.  He only notched one save in 2014, but struck out 135 batters in 90 innings.  Betances appears to have what it takes to be the closer on this team so it is his job to lose.

Andrew Miller – Signed a four-year $36 million free agent contract with the Yankees this winter.  Miller is entering his 10th year in the major leagues and is seeing his number go in the right direction.  He appeared in 73 games last season with the Orioles and Red Sox and had a record of 5-5 and an ERA of 2.02.  One of the numbers that stands out with him, just as Betances, is the K/9 number.  In 2014, Miller had a 14.9 rate which is up from the 14.1 a year before.  A strong bullpen can go a long way and with Miller and Betances at the end of it the games just became shorter.

David Carpenter – Acquired in a trade with the Atlanta Braves in January 2015.  Carpenter had a better 2013, but he is a serviceable relief pitcher that can log some serious game action (56 appearances in 2103 and 65 in 2014).  His ERA about doubled last year from 1.78 to 3.54, but is off to a nice start this spring in his two appearances.

Jared Burton – Signed a minor league contract with the Yankees in February.  Burton brings with him 8 years of major league experience playing for two different teams (Red and Twins).  The 34-year old had a bit of a down year in 2014 for the Twins but still appeared in 68 games.  It isn’t certain that he will break camp with the team, but experience can go a long way.  The minor league contract turns into a $2 million contract if he makes the major league team.

Justin Wilson – Acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates in November 2014.  The other left-handed pitcher in the bullpen for the Yankees in 2015, made 70 appearances with the Pirates last season with a record of 3-4 and an ERA of 4.20.  Like some of the other pitchers in the bullpen, Wilson had a down year on 2014 but had a real good one in 2013.

Starting Lineup

Photo courtesy of Gabe Rodriguez/Legends On Deck

Photo courtesy of Gabe Rodriguez/Legends On Deck

Brian McCann (C) – Signed a five-year $85 million free agent contract with the Yankees in 2014.  McCann did what McCann does in his first year in the Bronx.  His batting average was a bit lower, but he hit 23 home runs and drove in 75 runs.  It was the seventh season in a row that he hit 20 home runs in a season.  There is no reason to believe that he won’t do the same again in 2015, and now being in the American League he could also see time as a designated hitter.

Mark Teixeira (1B) – Signed an eight-year $180 million free agent contract with the Yankees in 2009.  Tex has seen a steady drop off in offensive production over the past few seasons.  The perennial .250+ hitter in his time as a Yankee saw his average dip to .216 in 2014, but he did manage to hit over 20 home runs again for the 11th time in 12 years.  Staying healthy of course is the most important, because the Yankees are a different team without the switch-hitting slugger.

Stephen Drew (2B) – Signed a one-year $5 million free agent contract with the Yankees.  After acquiring Drew in a trade with the Red Sox last season, the Yankees allowed him to become a free agent only to sign him again.  Drew, who sat out a part of the 2014 season waiting for a contract of his liking, had a pretty bad season.  He was actually a bit worse when he became a member of the Yankees, but they hope he can return to the 2013 form that helped the Boston Red Sox win the World Series.

Chase Headley (3B) – Re-signed with the Yankees on a four-year $52 million contract.  Another player the Yankees added in 2014 via trade, Headley was granted free agency only to re-sign in New York.  The once top prospect in the Padres organization has had himself a decent career, and will have plenty time to shine in the Bronx.  In the 58 games he played in 2014 as a member of the Yankees, he hit .262 with six home runs.  One of the interesting things to see is how he holds up playing a full season.  He played in 161 games in San Diego in 2012 and had his best season in major leagues.  The hopes for him is more of the same playing the hot-corner in Yankee Stadium.

Didi Gregorius (SS) – Acquired in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks this winter.  There really shouldn’t be much pressure for Gregorius to perform well in a position that Derek Jeter occupied for 20 years right?  It will be odd not to see good old number two out there in the field, but the Yankees are hoping they can get used to Gregorius in that position.  He is a decent fielding shortstop who’s bat hasn’t caught up yet.  He is only 25-years old and has just 191 major league games under his belt, so time is on his side.  He is one of the influx of younger players that could be a part of the franchise for many years to come.

Brett Gardner (LF) – Drafted in the third round of the 2005 amateur draft by the New York Yankees.  Gardner is the lone home-grown talent in the starting lineup.  He has seen a slight dip in production over the last couple of seasons with the exception of home runs.  Gardner hit a career-high 17 longballs in 2014 and added over twenty stolen bases again.  He still has the ability to get on base, even though his OBP went from .344 in 2013 to .327 in 2014.  With the free agents the Yankees have brought in, Gardner isn’t really expected to do much more than play a good outfield and get on base.

Jacoby Ellsbury (CF) – Signed a seven-year $153 million free agent contract with the Yankees in 2014.  After seven years playing for the Yankees bitter rival Red Sox, Ellsbury signed a deal with the Bronx Bombers and had decent year.  After being a near .300 hitter in every full season he has played in the major leagues, Ellsbury managed .271 for the Yankees but hit 16 home runs which was his highest total since 2011 when he hit 32.  Staying on the field is key for him and any success the Yankees plan on having in 2015.

Carlos Beltran (RF) – Signed a three-year $45 million free agent contract with the Yankees in 2014.  It is hard to believe that Beltran is entering his 18th season in the major leagues.  He has had some tremendous years, but those may be in the rearview as he heads into the twilight of his career.  The nearly 38-year old played in 109 games with the Yankees in 2014 hitting .231 which is 50-points lower than his career average.  At this point we are looking more towards the milestones that he is about to reach.  If he remains healthy and plays a full season, he could reach 2,300 games, 10,000 plate appearances, close to 1,500 runs, 2,500 hits, and 400 home runs for his career, which arguably could be considered a Hall of Fame one at that.

Alex Rodriguez (DH) – Signed a 10-year $275 million contract with the Yankees in 2008.  After opting out of the first contract he had with the Yankees, Rodriguez re-signed with the team with new perks.  The perks which are all up for debate are for hitting milestone home runs.  There isn’t much of a need to talk about A-Rod’s past here because everyone knows what has happened.  The Yankees owe him a lot of money and hope that even after all the time off he can still produce at a high level.  It remains to be seen, but be prepared for a media frenzy in a town near you when the Yankees come to town.

Projected Bench

Photo courtesy of Gabe Rodriguez/Legends On Deck

Photo courtesy of Gabe Rodriguez/Legends On Deck

Garrett Jones (IF/OF) – Acquired in a trade with the Miami Marlins this winter.  Jones seems to be more of an insurance policy for some of the other aging Yankee players.  He has the ability to first base and the outfield which will give him plenty of playing time.  He is a career .253 hitter with 117 home runs over seven seasons.

Austin Romine (C) – Drafted in the second round of the 2007 amateur draft by the Yankees.  Romine was once considered one of the Yankees top catching prospects.  He has 76 games of major league experience over three seasons.  He appeared in a career-high 60 games in 2013.

Chris Young (OF) – Signed a one-year $2.5 million free agent contract with the Yankees.  After being released by the New York Mets last season, the Yankees selected him off waivers.  He had a much better time offensively for the Yankees, but all-in-all 2014 was a normal year for him.  After being granted free agency by the Yankees at the end of last season, Young re-signed for a low-risk high-reward amount, and will get plenty of at-bats in 2015.

Jose Pirela (IF/OF) – Signed as an amateur free agent by the Yankees in 2006.  I am not sure who will round out the bench for the Yankees, but Pirela did spend some time in the major leagues last season.  He was able to showcase what he can do even though it was an extremely small sample-size.

John Ginder

Site Co-Founder/Senior Editor and Co-Host at Legends on Deck® The Podcast
In the past John has been a part of such successful sites as MetsMerizedOnline and MetsMinors.net.John was born and raised in upstate New York and has a love of all sports but mainly baseball. He has grown used to heartache with his teams as he roots for the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres too.John has a loving and understanding wife and is the the proud father of two amazing boys.He also loves heavy metal music.

You can also reach out to John at jginder@legendsondeck.com