If you're lucky enough to catch the Yankees home opener today, you'll see a lot of changes in the lineup. While we spent our winter waiting under blankets for warmer weather, Yankee general manager Brian Cashman was paying for lots of talent to upgrade his diamond.
In the off season, the Yanks spent oodles of money for a lot of new players, putting almost half a billion dollars to promising names like Jacoby Ellsbury, Masahiro Tanaka, Brian McCann, and Carlos Beltran. Why? Well, the team is trying to rebound from missing the playoffs last year, and they've also lost some key stars: Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettite decided to hang up their spikes at the end of last year, and second baseman Robinson Canó left for Seattle. This leaves a lot of questions for fans: Can the Yankees succeed without Canó? Can David Robertson fill the void of Mariano Rivera? Can their aging infield stay healthy? Ahead, the notable additions to the Yankees lineup who are, well, game changers.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Center Field
Beloved outfielder Curtis Granderson signed with the Mets this season. To replace him, the Yankees brought in Jacoby Ellsbury. This speedy ballplayer comes to New York with a seven-year, $153-million contract — one of the bold moves the Bombers pulled this winter. Ellsbury played in Boston for seven years before uncoupling with the team and changing outfits. He has a great glove, he can hit, and he is very fast. This is definitely a player to be excited about.
Brian McCann, Catcher
Brian McCann will step behind the plate for the Yankees for the next five years. McCann was a fan favorite in Atlanta, but after New York offered him $85 million over five years, he proudly put on the pinstripes. McCann has a great bat and stays healthy. With a roster that includes a number of aging stars and oft-injured players, McCann should be one of the most reliable Yankees on the bench.
Carlos Beltran, Right Field
Beltran is easily one of the best hitters of his era, and he continues to shine even as he ages. This winter, he signed a deal with the Yankees for three years and $45 million. Beltran seems like the perfect player: He's a phenomenal hitter, has a stunning arm, and the fans love him. The major issue is his health. Beltran has a long history of injury, which is why he isn’t considered one of the best players in the league.
Masahiro Tanaka, Pitcher
Masahiro Tanaka, a 25-year-old pitcher from Japan, is now a Yankee. The team gave him a seven-year, $155-million contract. Tanaka follows the footsteps of many other Japanese players who decided to make millions of dollars after much success in their local league. Nobody is quite sure if this success can translate into the big leagues, but only time will tell.
Pitching Rotation and Bullpen Overview
The Yankees rotation has always been pretty good, but this off season they added a spark in Tanaka. They've also got Michael Pineda, who's finally healthy after multiple shoulder injuries. The bullpen has always been a strong suit for the Yankees, and this winter it added a solid lefty in Matt Thornton after losing Boone Logan. But, without Rivera, will the ‘pen ever be the same?
The Yankee roster is filled with power-hitting superstars like Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, and Alfonso Soriano, but there's also a nice balance of speedy threats like Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, and Ichiro Suzuki. With one of the most dangerous lineups in the league, the Yanks will intimidate any pitcher. Last season, the team had a weak lineup, but this year they're ready to go all the way.
At the end of last season, the roster had a lot of injured players, and it looked like the team didn’t even have a shot at making the playoffs. You can expect the Yankees to come in second in their division — I don't think our boys are ready to beat Boston. With a new look and healthy team, excited fans should get ready for a wild ride.