Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Finding Keepers: New York Yankees

Rare is the team that can make a case for a keeper at nearly every position, but so is the case with the New York Yankees.

2B Robinson Cano finished the season as the top-ranked fantasy second baseman and the 11th-ranked player overall . His .319/103/29/109/3 was enough to garner him a third place finish in the AL MVP voting. Cano will be drafted in the first round of most drafts and continues to show his value as a keeper. I'm still not sure we've seen him reach his full potential and that should excite any fantasy owner lucky enough to have him on their roster for years to come.

You'd think 40 wins and nearly 400 strikeouts over the last two seasons would have been enough for SP CC Sabathia to win a couple of Cy Young awards but such is not the case. His 2010 season left him as the 7th-ranked starting pitcher on ESPN's Player Rater. Sabathia owners should just sit back and enjoy the quality seasons he's putting together, lock him up as a keeper and work to build a quality pitching staff around him.

Any guesses which other Yankee ranked within the top 50 fantasy-valued players? Hint: His yearly salary was a whopping $452,500. OF Brett Gardner finished the season with a .277/97/5/47/47 line, ranking him 47th overall and he deserves the same consideration as a keeper that a Juan Pierre or Michael Bourn would be given. Would you rather a 20/20 outfielder or a 5/50 one?

Some people would argue that 3B Alex Rodriguez is no longer the player he used to be. Maybe that's true but he's STILL a player that hit 30 HR and had 125 RBI last season and that was good enough for 6th best at his position and is a no-brainer keeper. He probably won't be drafted in the first round of many drafts this season and could fall past the second round. All I know is that if he falls and I have the next pick, I'm buying that his line gets better in 2011.

SS Derek Jeter had a statistically down year in 2010 (for him) but still managed to be the 5th-ranked shortstop in baseball. With a new contract and 3000 hits within his reach, does Jeter have something to prove to the Yankees, the media and the fans? Love him or hate him, he's a fantasy baseball keeper.

Wanna lock up a seven-year veteran as a keeper that averages 37 HR, 121 RBI, 104 Runs while batting .286? Then 1B Mark Teixeira is your guy. Even though his batting average was a career-worst .256, Teixeira managed to hit 33 HR with 108 RBI while scoring a career-high 113 Runs. Pencil him in as your opening day first baseman and enjoy the ride.

Two players that would probably not receive much keeper consideration were they not on the Yankees would be C Jorge Posada and OF Nick Swisher. Posada looks to be the Yankees full-time DH next season with catcher eligibility and the potential to hit .270+ with 20 HR and 80 RBI while Swisher went .288/91/29/89/1 in 2010. I say yes to Posada as a keeper simply due to the numbers he can put up with his catcher eligibility (10th ranked) but no to Swisher as the 25th-ranked outfielder.

Rarely do closers deserve consideration as keepers but how do you not consider RP Mariano Rivera and all that he brings to the table. Obviously on the downside of his career, Rivera still brings the potential for 40 saves with a sub-2.00 ERA and a sub-1.00 WHIP. I'm not here to endorse him as a keeper but surely won't mock you for doing so.

Best of the rest but not keepers:
  • OF Curtis Granderson brings tons of potential (20/20? 30/30?!?!) for a breakout fantasy season but hasn't hit north of .250 the last two seasons. That's a huge gamble to take with a keeper selection.
  • SP Phil Hughes was 11-2/3.65 ERA/1.18 WHIP prior to the All-Star break and 7-6/4.90 ERA/1.34 WHIP after the All-Star break. Which pitcher would you be keeping?
  • C Russell Martin, if fully healthy, could put up great numbers hitting at the bottom of a potent Yankee lineup and will likely be aggressively sought on draft day but not a keeper for 2011. That may very well change for 2012.
  • SP Andy Pettitte is still weighing his options but his keeper years are well behind him.
As stacked as the Yankees' roster is with fantasy keepers, they still have some unanswered questions within their rotation and in the bullpen. Feel free to use the comments section to discuss what the 2011 season has in store for the entire team, individual player statistics and projections or what moves you think the Yankees still have left to make headed into a season where the rival Boston Red Sox are clearly making a run at winning it all with their offseason moves.

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