Here are the ten biggest question marks New York Yankees fans have for the 2014 MLB season. As New York Yankees fans like myself head into the 2014 major league baseball season, there are some major questions that need answering before we will know what kind of a season the Yankees will have this year.
Ten biggest question marks New York Yankees fans have for 2014 MLB season
1. What can Derek Jeter do in his last season for the New York Yankees?
Derek Jeter has already announced that the 2014 season will be his last, and New York Yankees fans have to really wonder how productive Jeter will be this season after missing most of 2013 because his ankle never healed properly. The Yankees need to get something at shortstop from Derek Jeter in 2014, but he will turn 40 on June 26, 2014. How much does he have left for his last season in the majors?
2. Can Masahiro Tanaka pitch in the major leagues?
Masahiro Tanaka has a .740 winning percentage in Japan, including going 24-0 last season, but can he pitch successfully in the major leagues? Tanaka's overall Japanese stats are similar to Yu Darvish, and Darvish has a record of 29-18 with a 3.38 ERA for the Texas Rangers while pitching in one of the best hitter's parks in baseball. I'm optimistic about Tanaka and do not think he will be a bust, and he could be great.
3. Will C.C. Sabathia rebound?
After going 74-29 with a well below 3.50 ERA for the Yankees from 2009 to 2012, C.C. Sabathia was just 14-13 with a 4.78 ERA in 2013. C.C. Sabathia had elbow surgery after the 2012 season to remove a bone spur, and his recovery from that probably prevented him from having his regular off-season workouts. I'm pretty optimistic C.C. Sabathia will bounce back with a good season for the Yankees in 2014.
4. What can Mark Teixeira do this year for the Yankees?
After missing most of 2013 with a wrist injury, what can Mark Teixeira give the Yankees in 2014? Teixeira turns 34 on April 11, 2014, so he is still young enough to come back and have a decent season. I don't think Teixeira will be great in 2014, but he should be a lot more productive than Lyle Overbay was in 2013.
5. Who will play second base and replace Robinson Cano?
The Seattle Mariners will regret the contract they gave Robinson Cano, but the Yankees have to replace Cano at second base. The Yankees signed Brian Roberts for $2 million for one season, which is cheap, but Roberts has not had over 264 at-bats in a season for four consecutive seasons now. The Yankees also signed Kelly Johnson and the team might platoon him and Roberts at second base.
6. Who will play third base to replace Alex Rodriguez?
With ARod out serving his full one-year suspension, making Mike Francesca look stupid for defending him in the process, the Yankees need a third basemen for 2014. The team signed Scott Sizemore, a lifetime .238 hitter, and have Eduardo Nunez on the roster, but neither player is really any good. Nunez can't field, and his career SLG is .379. What can the Yankees do? See next question.
7. Can Dean Anna play second, short or third for the New York Yankees in 2014?
Dean Anna is 27 years old, the age when most hitters have their best year, and the Yankees acquired him in a trade with the Padres this winter. Anna has yet to play in the majors, but he did hit .331 with a .410 OBP and a .482 SLG at Tuscon in AAA in 2013. Dean Anna has played 236 games at second, 177 games at shortstop, and 53 games at third base in the minors.
After tearing it up at AAA in 2013, granted it was in the easy to hit in Pacific Coast League, Dean Anna looks like he can hit at the major league level. He is no prospect at age 27, but Dean Anna could really help the Yankees in the infield this season. The question is, can Dean Anna play at the major league level?
8. Can Michael Pineda help the Yankees in 2014?
After a good rookie campaign in 2011 with the Seattle Mariners during which he struck out 173 batters in 171 innings pitched, Michael Pineda underwent shoulder surgery in 2012 after the Yankees acquired him for Jesus Montero. In 2013, Pineda struck out 40 batters in 40.2 innings pitched and had a 3.38 ERA in limited action in the minors. Can Michael Pineda pitch for the Yankees in the starting rotation in 2014?
9. Who will be the New York Yankees fifth starter?
In conjunction with the last question, who will be the New York Yankees fifth starter this season. The team has a rotation of Sabathia, Tanaka, Kuroda, and Nova, but who will be the fifth starter? If it's not Pineda, the Yankees do have some minor league lefties worth a look like Vidal Nuno, Nik Turley, and Manny Banuelos (if recovered from Tommy John surgery), plus right hander David Phelps.
10. Can David Robertson replace Mariano Rivera as closer?
Of all the New York Yankees question marks this season, this is the one that bothers me the least. A few years ago, Robertson scared me because he was walking four or more batters per nine innings pitched, but he has brought that down into the twos range, which is not much above what Mariano Rivera used to walk per nine innings.