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2010 New York Yankees Preview

C.C. Sabathia, LHP
A.J. Burnett, RHP
Javier Vazquez, RHP
Andy Pettitte, LHP
Phil Hughes, RHP

Closers and Setup
Mariano Rivera, RHP
Joba Chamberlain, RHP

Starting Lineup
Curtis Granderson, CF
Derek Jeter, SS
Mark Teixeria, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Nick Johnson, DH
Jorge Posada, C
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Randy Winn, LF

Player in Decline
This isn’t an easy choice with a roster as stacked as the Yankees but our candidate will be pitcher Javy Vasquez. His below- average fly-ball rate won’t help him in the new Yankee stadium and it’s going to be hard for him to come near his 0.82 HR/9 rate from last season.

Player on the Rise
Whoever is awarded the fifth spot in the rotation has massive potential to put together a nifty 2010. Everyone has seen flashes of brilliance from Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes and it wouldn’t be surprising if either of them post top-of-the-rotation-like numbers from the fifth starter’s spot.

Top 5 Fantasy Players
3B Alex Rodriguez: Elite
SP C.C. Sabathia: Elite
1B Mark Teixiera: Elite
SS Derek Jeter: Elite
RP Mariano Rivera: Elite

Top 10 Prospects
1. Jesus Montero, C
2. Austin Romine, C
3. Zach McAllister, RHP
4. Manny Banuelos, LHP
5. Slade Heathcott, OF
6. Mark Melancon, RHP
7. Gary Sanchez, C
8. J.R. Murphy, C
9. Corban Joseph, 2B
10. Kevin De Leon, OF

Overall Team Outlook: After missing the postseason in 2008, the Yankees organization returned to championship glory in 2009. The Yankees will try to build off of its 103-win championship season and has made the necessary moves to put the club in the best position to do so. GM Brian Cashman was aggressive in adding superstar Curtis Granderson to his lineup and Javy Vasquez to the middle of his deep rotation. The Yankees roster is stacked and the club figures to make another run at a championship in 2010. Anything less would amount to a failed season.

The Starting Rotation: C.C. Sabathia will remain the anchor at the top of the Yankees rotation and is a top starting-pitching option in all fantasy formats. He posted his lowest strikeout rate (7.71 K/9) since 2006 and an uptick in that number wouldn’t be surprising and would only increase his already gaudy production. Sabathia is the Yankees’ horse and slated behind him will be the fire-balling A.J. Burnett. Burnett avoided the injury bug last year and made 33 starts. He gets plenty of strikeouts but his below-average control tends to hurt him. The Yankees reacquired Vasquez this offseason and he and Andy Pettite will battle for the third spot in the rotation.

The loser will wind up being the fourth starter but Vasquez is coming off a career year where he put everything together and even prevented the home run (0.82 HR/9), which contradicts his career pattern (1.16 HR/9). Expect some regression from Vasquez’s ace-like season (2.77 FIP), but he should still be a solid fantasy option that eats innings and records oodles of strikeouts. Pettite offers value, too, but lacks the upside of Vasquez. The fifth and final spot will either go to Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes. Chamberlain had bouts of inconsistency last year as a starter, but we all know what he’s capable of and his power arm is very tantalizing. Hughes was a nice contributor in the bullpen last year but came up as a starter. Whichever route the Yankees choose to go, the fifth starter deserves a mid-to-late round flier in your draft.

The Bullpen: Mariano Rivera just keeps defying time; he’s now 40 years old but a top closer option in all fantasy formats. His cutter keeps sawing off bats, he’s in a contract year, and he keeps racking up strikeouts while exhibiting impeccable command. It’s going to be awfully interesting to see how much longer Rivera will continue to want to play. His skill set is still remarkable. Barring injury, Rivera will be the saves man once again in New York during 2010. Either Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes figure to be one of Mo’s top set-up men in 2010. Whoever doesn’t start and is regulated to the bullpen has the potential to put together a dominant season as the bridge to Rivera.

The Starting Line Up: This lineup is stacked from one through nine. It’s no coincidence that the Yankees led the league in scoring last year. The club is the favorite to repeat that feat this season. The newly acquired Curtis Granderson figures to bat leadoff this season and he brings a nifty blend of power and speed to the center-field position. Expect a big 2010 from Granderson. His career-low .276 BABIP in 2009 screams for regression. His career BABIP is .323. Derek Jeter had one of his best seasons on many fronts last season; the friendly confines of the new Yankee Stadium only appeared to help him. He’s going to be in a contract year and one must figure that Jeter will finish his career in a Yankee uniform. Mark Teixiera and Alex Rodriguez are elite fantasy options at their respective corner positions and A-Rod should put up monstrous numbers now that he’s fully recovered from the hip surgery that cost him playing time early last season.

Jorge Posada bounced back from an ugly 2008 and is aging well. He’s a top-hitting catcher and is good for 20+ homers. Nick Swisher is slotted for right-field duty and he offers plenty of pop, walks, and strikeouts. The free-swinging Robinson Cano had some better batted-ball luck last season and returned to his power-hitting ways. He’s tough to figure out at times but his power from the second base position is a plus. Nick Johnson was brought back to New York to become the full-time DH, but he offers more real-life value than fantasy value if he can avoid injury and consistently stay on the field. If healthy, he’ll post one of the league’s highest on-base-percentages, but his homer ceiling floats around 15. Either Randy Winn or Brett Gardner will be the team’s left fielder and both of their fantasy values are limited. Gardner can steal some bases and Winn could in his heyday, but with Winn aging it’s not probable that he reaches his former peak performances, which consisted of higher batting averages and 10+ homers.

The Bench: Rule 5 selection Jamie Hoffmann has a shot at becoming the team’s fifth outfielder. If he doesn’t snatch up the job, recent waiver claim Greg Golson appears next in line. Defensive specialist Ramiro Pena will aid the Yankees’ middle infielders. Whoever doesn’t win the starting job in left field, Winn or Gardner, will be a big contributor off the bench. Winn could become Granderson’s platoon partner against lefties due to Granderson’s obvious inability to hit them.