Thursday, March 6, 2008

New York Yankees Fantasy Season Preview

The Yankees enter 2008 in an unfamiliar position - Underdog. New York is trying to rebuild on the fly and make the playoffs with a mostly young and unproven pitching staff. The line up remains solid featuring an unlikely mix of veterans entering their twilight, veterans still in their primes and young stars who have yet to enter their primes. We look up and down the roster to see who is worth drafting and who to avoid.

Starting Line up

LF- Johnny Damon
SS- Derek Jeter
RF- Bobby Abreu
3B- Alex Rodriguez
2B- Robinson Cano
DH- Hideki Matsui/ Jason Giambi
C- Jorge Posada
1B- Shelly Duncan/ Jason Giambi
CF- Melky Cabrera

Starting Rotation

Ace- Chien-Ming Wang
2- Andy Pettitte
3- Phil Hughes
4- Mike Mussina
5- Ian Kennedy

Bullpen

Closer - Mariano Rivera
Setup Man - Joba Chamberlain
Middle Relievers - LaTroy Hawkins, Kyle Farnsworth, Edwar Ramirez, Ross Ohlendorf, Brian Bruney, Sean Henn, Kei Igawa

Hitters to Draft

Alex Rodriguez, 3B - Just a hunch. If he was just a big bat, it would be one thing. Arod will help you mightily across every offensive category including steals. Add to the fact he plays one of the most scarce positions in all of fantasy and you have a better understanding as to why he is the #1 pick overall.

Derek Jeter, SS - Hard to believe Jeter is now 34-years-old. One of the benefits of drafting Jeter is that you know what you are getting. He plays everyday, hits .320AVG, will have around 13HR, 25SB, 100R and 75-90RBI. Last season he was banged up a bit and dealt with a variety of leg injuries, and still had a good season. Jeter dedicated this off season to better conditioning for his aging body, that combined with the fact, that he is just too smart, and too skilled a ball player should bring him to have yet another fine fantasy season.

Robinson Cano, 2B - Look Out! Cano has been steadily progressing each season and 2008 should be no different. This is a guy who is capable of hitting .320, to go along with 25HR and close to a 100 RBI. He should start the season hitting lower in the order, perhaps 7-8, but could see himself up into the 5-6 hole depending on how much veterans like Jason Giambi, Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui can contribute.

Bobby Abreu, RF - Looked like he got really old really fast early last season, but turned it on in June and the Yankees success as a team followed suit. His HR totals have dropped in recent years, down from the steady 20/20 threat he once was and is now more of a 15/20 guy. That being said, in a contract year, maybe Abreu can find it in him to turn it back up in order to earn himself one more great payday.

Jorge Posada, C - The ageless catcher has been performing remarkably well during what should be the twilight of his career. Posada, has the advantage of being converted to a catcher while he was in the minors, so countless years and innings have been saved on his knees, that most catchers his age just can't handle. He isn't the best catcher in fantasy baseball, but he is at least in the top 5.

Hideki Matsui, DH - Lock for 20HR, 100RBI if the knee can stay healthy.

Johnny Damon, LF - Looked old and broke down at the beginning of last season, yet managed to turn it on in June and finish strong. Recently it came out that he was having thoughts about retiring before last season and showed up to camp out of shape, and that was the main contributer to his awful start. Damon should be a lock for 10HR+, and 30SB, with 100R.

Pitchers To Draft

Mariano Rivera, CL - Still one of the best and most durable closers in the game. 35 saves is a near lock every season, and this year should be no different.

Chein-Ming Wang, SP - Sinker ball specialist, is effective in 8/10 starts. It's the other 2 starts when his stinker ball is up in the zone and he gets pounded. As Yankee fans can attest to this normally only happens in the playoffs. Wang doesn't strike out many batters, but still, the 38 wins over the last 2 seasons are tough to ignore. No reason not to expect at least 16 wins from Wang again this season.

Phil Hughes, SP - Young pitcher and hyped future ace. He got hurt last year, and that cost him most of his season. Look for him to settle in well this year, and have an ERA of about 3.75 to go along with 15 wins. He will struggle at times, as most young pitchers do, but ultimately the good times will outweigh the bad ones.

Andy Pettitte, SP - Pettitte was the recipient of some bad luck and even worse run support last season. Pettitte compiles a decent amount of Ks, should win 15 games and have an ERA in the mid 3's.

Joba Chamberlain- He could be a starter and help your W and K totals, he could be a reliever and help you in ERA, WHIP and holds and if something were to happen to Rivera he would probably be the closer. Anyway you look at it, he is going to be really good and you should try to draft him.

Carl Pavano- ZINGER!

Players to Avoid

Jason Giambi, DH - Can still hit a HR, and draw a walk. The high AVG is a thing of the past, and the RBI totals will fluctuate edpending on his healthy. he is not someone you can depend on to give you consistent fantasy at bats. Avoid in head to head leagues, and try to avoid in rotisserie leagues as best you can.

Mike Mussina, SP - Tough to watch a guy who was once one of the best fall to the level where he is battling for a rotation spot. At the age of 38 Moose isn't going to rejuvenate himself into what he once was, yet there will always be someone who drafts him and says, "Bounce back year." Don't be that guy.

Sleepers

Shelley Duncan, 1B/DH - Should get a decent amount of a bats between 1B and DH. The Yanks are claiming, (as they have for years) that they want Giambi to take the 1B job full time and play everyday. The only problem is, Giambi's body can now barely handle DHing everyday, let alone the rigors of playing the field everyday. Duncan has tremendous HR potential, an old school slugger type, .260BA, with an ability to draw walks and 20+ HR.

Melky Cabrera, CF - Randy Winn type numbers (.290-.300-15HR-15SB) with more upside.

Wilson Betemit - Could get consistent at bats filling in around the infield, when players are injured, or just to help keep guys fresh. He is a HR threat, but won't really warrant a draft pick unless someone goes down in Spring Training.

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