Mar 9, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter (2) force out Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Wil Myers (9) and throws the ball to first for a double play during the fourth inning at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
3) New York Yankees: 84-78
1- Why will this team exceed expectations?
Scott Alfano from Yanks Go Yard: The New York Yankees went through a major roster update in the 2013-2014 off-season. The additions of Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Masahiro Tanaka have upgraded the team right into late October discussions.
Regardless of the year prior, the expectations for the Yankees will always be World Series or bust. They missed the playoffs last year, scoring an anemic 650 runs. Now with a complete lineup, the Yankees will propel themselves late into the playoffs, if not the World Series itself.
2- Why will this team fall short of expectations?
Remember all those additions I mentioned? The Yankees also swapped Robinson Cano for Brian Roberts at second base. They also lost Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes. Lastly, they still have C.C. Sabathia. He owned a 4.78 ERA last season, good for 76th out of 82 qualifying pitchers. Of course, Yankees and Yankee fans expect Tanaka to be one of the best pitchers in baseball.
However, he is not a sure thing and neither is the rest of the rotation. No one knows what Sabathia will deliver this year, Kuroda is nearly 40, Tanaka is brand new to the MLB, and Michael Pineda, if he wins the 5th spot, hasn’t pitched in over two years. Asking every pitcher to perform at or above expectations is a lofty and optimistic goal. The Yankees rotation will make or break this team.
3- Look for the team to make (this trade)
The Yankees have a ton of depth at catcher. Aside from free agent prize Brian McCann, the Yankees have Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine, Gary Sanchez, and J.R. Murphy. Sanchez is seen as the successor to McCann and is nearly untouchable.
However, the other three can be on the move at any time. Cervelli has had relative success catching over the years, but missed 50 games last year to a positive PED test. Romine is great defensively, but lacks with the bat. Murphy is ready to go offensively, but needs time to develop behind the plate. Murphy is the clear choice to get the most back.
Though it will hurt, the Yankees need to realize that between McCann and Sanchez, Murphy will never play so he needs to go while his value is sky high. Look for the Yankees to either make a minor move with Romine, or a splash with Murphy, most likely for an infielder.
4- Watch out for the emergence of (prospect)
Yangervis Solarte. Believe it or not, the Yankees have a handful of players that are ready or almost ready to play MLB level ball in their farm system. Solarte is the clear choice here for a variety of reasons. He can play second, third, or short.
These are all areas of need for the Yankees. He impressed with the Rangers the last two seasons, and is a player the Yankees should feel fortunate to have. Additionally, he is absolutely destroying the ball this spring training, batting 10/15 (.667) with two home runs. While it takes about 35 at bats to get a true sample size, he has certainly given the Yankees’ front office something to think about.