Will The New York Yankees Make The Playoffs?
Within the last week our very own Paul Jack previewed what the AL East is going to look like for 2013. Since that preview, the Yankees Spring went from bad to worse when it was learned that Mark Teixeira would miss the open of the season due to a strained tendon in his right wrist. Teixeira joins the list of already banged up Yankees that includes Curtis Granderson (Broken forearm), Derek Jeter (Ankle), Alex Rodriguez (Hip), David Robertson (Shoulder), Boone Logan (Elbow), and Phil Hughes (Bulging Disk).
That list also includes CC Sabathia (Bone Spur) and Mariano Rivera (Knee) who are coming off surgery but are projected to be ready for the season. Jeter is doing his best Derek Jeter impersonation by attempting to be ready on opening day as well. So how does this new injury factor into the Yankees making the playoffs? Although it seems way too early to be answering playoff questions, I will attempt to do just that.
The Yankees lineup will be missing three big bats in the middle until at least early to mid-May when they most likely will get Granderson and Teixeira back. Rodriguez could miss even more significant time depending on how his hip heals, not to mention his ego after even more allegations of PED usage from the report last month out of Miami. Those allegations will linger with the team whether or not Rodriguez is in uniform.
In a division that is seemingly loaded, it seems like a tall task for the Yankees to have a poor start. Without a big portion of their lineup intact, the first two months of the season will be quite a challenge. There doesn’t seem to be any moves to make that would make an impact on the thin lineup that already had question marks to begin with. Kevin Youkilis was signed to a one year deal this offseason and will play third base but to count on a guy who has played an average of 115 games for the past three seasons seems like a stretch. Boston Red Sox fans will be counting the days until Youkilis comes up injured because they know it will only be a matter of time.
The only good news that has been reported for the Yankees recently is that Jeter will supposedly be ready for Opening Day. That means Robinson Cano and Jeter will hold down the middle of the infield with Youkilis at third and a platoon of players will hold down first base until Teixeira’s return. First base will be a mixture of Juan Rivera and Dan Johnson. I also wouldn’t count out Eduardo Nunez playing some third with Youkilis being shifted to first for some games. The outfield will also have a platoon for Granderson’s spot that might include Matt Diaz and Rivera to join Ichiro Suzuki and Brett Gardner. Travis Hafner will most likely get the bulk of the DH responsibility.
In order to get off to a good start, the Yankees are going to have to rely on their starting pitching which is a scary thought for some Yankees fans. Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, Ivan Nova, and Hughes will largely be the five man rotation for the season. Even with only 12 starts from Pettitte last year, these five guys accounted for 64 of the 95 wins in 2012. The group is well beyond capable to get the job done. If they can be tough early, the run support should come back in the middle of the season.
So will the Yankees make the playoffs in 2013? There is a big chance that they won’t. As you’ll see in the coming weeks as predictions go up all around baseball on who will make the playoffs, we at Baseball Hot Corner will have our own. One thing you will not see in my predictions will be the Yankees in the playoffs. Last year’s Los Angeles Angels showed us that overcoming a bad first month is difficult and the Halos don’t play in the AL East. From top to bottom there doesn’t seem to be a last place team in the bunch. Yankees fans better hope that GM Brian Cashman, who is injured himself from a skydiving accident, can improve the team for cheap since they are trying to get under the luxury tax for 2014.
For those who care about the reason why the Yankees are trying to get under the luxury tax, find me on twitter and I will explain because it’s not to be thrifty all of a sudden.
Ryan Walton is a self proclaimed baseball nerd who lives in Southern California. He is a Finance major at California State University of San Bernardino and plans to make a career for himself in the sports media. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @Rcpwalton