On-Base Perception

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Yankees 2012: Likes and dislikes

Yankees reliever David Robertson gong through his warmups

Yankees reliever David Robertson gong through his warmups during spring training at George Steinbrenner Stadium in Tampa, Fla. (Feb. 21, 2012) (Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.)

3 things to be OPTIMISTIC about with the 2012 edition of the Yankees:

1. Starters excess

At this time last year, the Yankees’ dominant story line was their starting pitching deficit. This year it’s been a surplus as they entered camp with six starters for five spots (before Andy Pettitte unretired, making it seven for five). On the surface, the Yankees have plenty of arms, but as Brian Cashman points out, that appeared to be the case last year with the Red Sox, too.

2. Monster pen

The unit, tagged as the “best bullpen in baseball” last spring by several scouts, lived up to that label during the season despite injuries to Rafael Soriano, Pedro Feliciano and Joba Chamberlain. This year? “Still the best bullpen in baseball,” one scout said, in large part because of ace setup man David Robertson and the ageless Mariano Rivera.

3.  Solid bench

Cashman got everything he wanted accomplished when it came to his reserves. He re-signed Andruw Jones, healthier than in 2011 after offseason knee surgery, and, though it took a while, also brought back Eric Chavez. Though Raul Ibañez had a sluggish spring training, the 39-year-old has a very defined role — DH against righties — and should thrive at the Stadium with its short rightfield porch.
 

3 things to be CONCERNED about with the 2012 edition of the Yankees:

1. Age

The left side of the infield has Alex Rodriguez, who will turn 37 in July, at third base and Derek Jeter, who will turn 38 in June, at shortstop. Both spent time on the DL last season; A-Rod in particular is a concern, as he’s coming off a season in which he suffered knee, shoulder and thumb injuries that limited him to 99 games. While the Yankees like Eduardo Nuñez, prolonged stretches without A-Rod and/or Jeter (below) wouldn’t bode well.

2. The Rotation

Yes, this made the “strength list” as well, but there is a worst-case scenario to consider. What if Ivan Nova, with only one full season under his belt, was a one-season flash in the pan? ... What if 23-year-old Michael Pineda’s shoulder problem (he’s on the disabled list with tendinitis) lingers ... What if Phil Hughes is the pitcher he was for all of 2011? ... What if Hiroki Kuroda’s transition to the AL East doesn’t go so smoothly?

3. AL Beast

The AL East has never been stronger. The Blue Jays appear ready to contend, giving the division four quality teams. The Angels’ additions of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson give them the look of a West Coast juggernaut, and the Tigers look as if they’ve established one in the Midwest. The defending AL champion Rangers didn’t exactly get worse, either, giving the road to title No. 28 plenty of speed bumps.
 

Tags: yankees , alex rodriguez , derek jeter , michael pineda , hiroki kuroda , phil hughes , andy pettitte , andrew jones , david robertson

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