Five things Yankee fans have to look forward to


Yankee fans should not be too disappointed about the 2012 season. After all, shortstop Derek Jeter did lead the MLB in hits. Photo by: Keith Allison / Flickr

BY CHUCK CONSTANTINO, Couchsideshow.com blogger

The New York Yankees season ended, but they came away from the postseason different than other years. The Bronx Bombers looked old, slow and flat-out bad. Derek Jeter was injured, and surgery will sideline for several months. Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano seemed impatient at the plate. And it is safe to say plenty of players on the postseason roster will not be apart of the team come spring training. While most of the sports world is laughing at Yankee fans and the pain they currently feel, because they’re the Yankees, they’ll most likely have the last laugh. Lets not forget, it could be worse, I’m sure Boston Red Sox fans will agree. Here are five things Yankee fans can look forward to in the next couple of months.

1. The possible dismissal of A-Rod: Just so I can get this out of the way, Alex Rodriguez has probably seen his last days wearing pinstripes. Well, in a Yankee uniform at least, who knows what that dude will wear. A-Rod has looked pathetic this season. Since coming back from injury Sept. 3, Rodriguez ranks 170 of 173 in OPS vs. right-handers. The guy cannot hit a low-ball fastball pitcher. Check that, A-Roid can’t hit the fastball, or righties. But, the Yankees could be saved. The Miami Marlins, a team looking for anything and anyone to help the organization in some way, may want Rodriguez. A-Rod, a native of Miami, has a full no-trade clause and would have to waive it for a trade to any team. After hearing A-Rod in his closing interviews of the season, it sounds like he wants to stay in New York. He could just be saying that for PR reasons, but there is no way he wants to be somewhere he is no wanted any longer. Here’s a guy who is signed through 2017 and is still owed over $100 million and it is safe to say he probably won’t hit more than 20 home runs in a season for the remainder of his career. If the Yankees are able to dump him off to a team wanting to make a splash (if not Marlins, perhaps the Diamondbacks, Dodgers or Angels) then it’s a huge victory, no matter how much money the Yankees wind up paying. While there are plenty of obstacles for an A-Rod deal, the Yankees can get it done.

2. Bye bye big contracts: The Yankees have a lot of contracts coming off the books this offseason. Ichiro Suzukic, Derek Lowe, Mariano Rivera, Nick Swisher, Hiroki Kuroda, Russell Martin, Freddy Garcia, Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez and the entire bullpen will all become free agents. Rafael Soriano has an opt-out clause and Granderson has an option, one the Yankees will likely pick up considering the weak projected free agent market. I’m not saying the Yankees will let everyone go, but the bench, outfield and third base  should see different faces. This will allow much more financial flexibility for New York, which in turn means more signings or trades. Also, if there is a big-name player defecting from his home country, the Yankees will probably be in the bidding, something they have not been able to do the past couple of seasons.

3. The return of a legend: Come next season Mariano Rivera should be back at full strength. His contract is up, but he has stated he’d like to come back for another season. David Robertson and Rafael Soriano did a fine job filling in for the Sandman, but together, they are no Mo. Rivera won’t come back better than ever, but he is still better than most closers in the league. He is a huge piece to what the Yankees do best, with him in the bullpen, Girardi and the rest of the team should be able to breathe a little easier knowing what he is capable of doing. Even at his age and his one pitch, Rivera can be dominant. No longer will the two inning saves be expected, but they sure will be welcomed.

4. The captain coming back: It is a shame the way Derek Jeter’s season ended. When he went down, the fans and team looked dejected. The fractured ankle might as well been a kill shot to New York’s hopes of postseason glory. But, Jeter managed to lead all MLB batters in hits this season, despite his age and the fact he played on a bum ankle for most of the season. His range in the field has declined, and I’m sure this surgery won’t help too much with that, but a healthy DJ at the top of the Yankees order can only mean good things. I’m not expecting him to lead the league in hits again, but time and again Jeter has shown the ability to put the bat on the ball, not too many shortstops at his age can do it, and do it well. Come April, the Captain will most likely be batting first and fielding grounders at shortstop. Least Yankee fans can rest easy knowing Jeter is, well, resting easy.

5.) The future is bright: The Yankees haven’t been a team that develops players in their farm system in the past, but general manager Brian Cashman wants to move in that direction. Unfortunately, the Yankees surrendered some first round draft picks to the Tampa Bay Rays with the Rafael Soriano signing, which is sure to backfire in a couple of weeks when he announces he will opt-out of his current contract. Despite that, assuming the Yankees hold on to their best prospects, help is on the way soon. They have two standout prospects in catcher Gary Sanchez, a 20 year old with the ability to hit for average in his young career. He’s also got some pop, he hasn’t shown monster power numbers, but he is still relatively raw and young. He is the reason the Yanks were comfortable with letting Jesus Montero go for a Miguel Pineda. The other guy who will most likely find his way into the clubhouse next season is Manny Banuelos, a 21 year old lefty starting pitcher. He hasn’t given up too many home runs while in the minors and he has a live fastball ranging from the low-to-mid 90’s. His best pitch however is his changeup. His main problem at his young age is pitching strikes at an efficient rate. He average 109 pitches per six innings in seven Triple-A starts. He projects as a third starter right now, but has upside. As long as he can stay healthy, he’ll be around.

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