A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE YANKEES
Welcome to the if club: If Masahiro Tanaka's arm doesn't fall off, ifCC Sabathia turns back the clock to 2011, ifMichael Pineda stays healthy, ifAdam Warren steps up.... Tanaka has looked very good this spring—his velocity is down, but in one spring start he threw six or seven wipeout splits that were unhittable. Of course, you're playing Russian roulette every time he throws the ball.... I can't believe it: They lost David Robertson, but their bullpen is actually better. Andrew Miller is an absolute stud. It wouldn't surprise me if Dellin Betances is one of the best closers in the game this year.... I have to say, Alex Rodriguez has been a pleasant surprise. He's been having good at bats, and he can still do some damage on mistakes over the plate. At third he's got limited range, but he still has good hands and can throw. He's taking the boos, running out ground balls, and you know what? He's a piece of crap—but he's winning me over.... Mark Teixeira is a big problem. He has not looked good with the bat at all, his bat speed has slowed down so much that he has to really cheat to get to fastballs.... I think Brian McCann will bounce back. It was clear he was trying to justify the money they spent on him, and he was pressing at the plate. He's a good hitter and a good fit in the ballpark.... The division is up for grabs, so they'll hang around. I will say that there are finally some good young prospects to get excited about—Luis Severino, Aaron Judge, Greg Bird—so help is on the way.
The way to get the most from Alex Rodriguez is to look to ... Derek Jeter? Rodriguez, coming back from nearly two years lost to injury and suspension, is still under contract through 2017 for $61 million, so the Yankees have to find a way to get value from the 39-year-old. Their best option may be to have him succeed Jeter as the number 2 hitter. Rodriguez could split the lefty bats of Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner, and as a fly ball hitter he would present a lessened double play risk. For all the focus on his home runs, Rodriguez has historically hit for average (.299 for his career) and is able to drive the ball over the whole field. It's not hard to see him working counts and hitting singles to right that move the speedy Ellsbury to third base. At the least, Rodriguez would most likely improve on the .316 OBP and .345 slugging the Yankees got from their number 2 hitters, mostly Jeter, a year ago.
LEAGUE RANK 11
MANAGER JOE GIRARDI 8TH SEASON WITH YANKEES
2015 PROJECTED STATISTICS BY ROTOWIRE.COM
CHUCK SOLOMON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (TANAKA)