Tag Archives: Mariano Rivera

2014 AL East Preview

By: Jon

The AL East is definitively the best division in baseball since they have the current champions, the Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, Orioles, and Blue Jays. The East has a legitimate threat of possessing three of the five playoff teams in the AL. Besides the Blue Jays, who still have a possibility of finishing over .500, the other four teams have a great chance of winning the division.

 

1) New York Yankees

The Yankees want to win one more before the Captain retires
The Yankees want to win one more before the Captain retires

The Yankees regained the title as the most expensive team in baseball after they spent nearly $500 million on free agents this offseason. The Yankees will be starting a completely new club from last season as only one player, Brett Gardner, will be starting Opening Day this and last season. The Yankees have a lot of talent, but they have many questions that may lead to their demise. Although the Yankees outfield should be the catalyst of team with Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner, Alfonso Soriano, and Jacoby Ellsbury, the infield has many questions because the players, Kelly Johnson, Derek Jeter, Brian Roberts, and Mark Teixeira, are all coming off  injury and have questions about their age. If the Yankees stay healthy, they should be one of the best teams in baseball and will contend for a championship.

On offense, the Yankees have speed, power, and high batting averages. The middle of the order, McCann, Tex, Soriano, and Beltran, should record a good deal of RBIs since they will have many opportunities to drive in runs. Jacoby Ellsbury, Derek Jeter, and Brett Garnder have shown that they have the ability to get on base, steal bases, and score runs at a very high level. In terms of defense, the team should be one of the best in the league, especially in the outfield. Jacoby and Brett are two of the fastest outfielders in the league and should be able to easily cover every ball in the outfield. Although he is old, Beltran is an above average outfielder with a great arm and instincts. On the infield, the return of Tex will be great since he is a premier fielder and prevents errors with his ability to scoop throws. Although Jeter or Roberts do not have great range, they are steady players and will not make many errors in the field.

On the pitching staff, the Yanks have some questions as well. If Tanaka, Nova, and Pineda can continue their success from Spring Training, the team will have a great pitching staff with each player has a lot of talent. Although CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda have experienced poor spring trainings and did not have a good finish to last season, the Yankees need them to return to their old form. The Yankees have a few quality options, Vidal Nuno, Adam Warren, and David Phelps, if injuries hamper their starting five. Unlike past seasons, the Yanks are not expected to have a good bullpen. The Yanks must answer a few questions if they are going win games with their bullpen like they have in the past. The Yankees need to replace the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera, an eighth inning pitcher to replace David Robertson, and a lefty specialist to replace Boone Logan. If the Yankees’ starters fail to get injured, they can use their extra starting pitchers or prospects to man the positions. Although the Yankees have many questions, they have a lot of talent and expectations that their fans hope they can meet this season.

Predicted Yankees Record: 95-67

2) Boston Red Sox

The Sox are hoping to repeat this season
The Sox are hoping to repeat this season

The Red Sox are the defending champion and many believe that they have a great chance of winning the division and repeating as champions. The Red Sox are currently ranked second on this list because they lost a few good players to free agency that must be replaced. The biggest loss the Red Sox endured was Jacoby Ellsbury, who went to the hated New York Yankees for $153 million. Although Jacoby was occassionally injured, he was a great table setter for the Red Sox and was a lock for at least 90 runs a season. The Red Sox are hoping that Jackie Bradley Jr will be able to succeed at the major league level, although he was unable to hit in the majors at the start of last season. Bradley, although an above average defender, will not be able to replace Ellsbury’s defense because he does not have the speed. At shortstop, the Red Sox will have to replace the production from Stephen Drew. Drew was a solid option for the Red Sox because he was a good defensive player and could hit well for a shortstop. The Red Sox hope that top prospect Xander Bogearts will be able to turn his potential into production and replace the void left by Drew. Xander got his first taste of major league experience last season in the playoffs and regular season.

Besides those losses, the Red Sox kept the same team as last year. On offense, the Red Sox have a lot of good sluggers, Ortiz, Pedroia, and Napoli, and other quality hitters, which gives them a balanced offensive attack. The Red Sox have at least five or six players that can hit over .300 this season. Last season, they had three players hit over .300 and five that hit over .294. Like last season, they should rank as one of the best run scoring teams in the league.

In terms of pitching, the Red Sox have a deep rotation even though they do not possess a dominant ace. The combination of Jake Peavy, John Lackey, Jon Lester, Felix Doubront, and Clay Buchholz should give the Red Sox an above average staff as long as they do not have to deal with injuries. If the Red Sox do face injuries, they may have serious issues because they do not have many long men/spot starters on their roster. The Red Sox have a very good farm system with good pitching prospects, but it is unknown if they want to hurry these prospects to the bigs. In the bullpen, the Red Sox have one of the best in the league. If Uehara can give the Red Sox similar numbers to last season, they will be in great shape because they have solid lefties and power arms out of the bullpen. The Red Sox should be a 90 win team and compete with the Yankees and other AL East teams for the division and the Pennant.

Predicted Red Sox Record: 94-68

3) Tampa Bay Rays

The pitching could lead the Rays to the playoff
The pitching could lead the Rays to the playoffs

The Rays have been steady winners over the last five seasons. Before their nice run, the Rays were one of the worst teams in baseball and never made the playoffs. Previously, they would always receive high picks in the draft, which enabled them to build a core and achieve success. Although the Rays have lost stars over the past few seasons, they have a deep farm system to replace their stars with stud prospects.

Although the Rays normally win with their pitching and defense, the Rays offense has improved drastically and should be a strength this season. The middle of the order will be led by Evan Longoria, Wil Myers, James Loney, and Matt Joyce. These power hitters should easily be able to drive in a lot of runs since Ben Zobrist, Desmond Jennings, and possibly star shortstop prospect, Lee, are all good table setters and have the ability to reach base. The Rays should continue playing great defense because Longoria, Myers, Escobar, Loney, and Desmond are excellent defenders and do not commit many errors.

Although the offense is improving, the pitching is the best part of the team. The staff is led by former AL Cy Young Award winner David Price. Along with Price, the Rays have Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, Jeremy Hellickson, Chris Archer, and possibly Jake Odorizzi. Besides Hellickson, each starter had an ERA below 3.50. The Rays’ pitching staff should continue stopping opposing offenses and lead the Rays to the playoff as long as Price stays in the rotation. Since Price has achieved a lot of success, the Rays are looking to trade him since it is unlikely they will be able to re-sign him next offseason. Although the Rays would receive a King’s Ransom for Price, the players will not be able to immediately help the Rays, if they trade him at the trade deadline. Like many prior seasons, the Rays’ bullpen is different from last season and has many questions. The Rays have signed a few relievers that are coming off bad seasons and were able to sign them at a bargain. The Rays will rely heavily on Grant Balfour, Heath Bell, Joel Peralta, and lefty flamethrower Jake McGee. Each reliever has experienced success in the past and the Rays hope they can catch lightning in a bottle once again.

The Rays were able to win 92 games last season despite them starting slowly because of poor pitching. However, this season, the pitching should not let the Rays down at the start of the season and should enable them to win over 90 games again this season. The AL East should have a great fight at the top since each of the three aforementioned teams has the ability to win 95 games. The Rays do not have as much depth or offensive talent as the Red Sox and Yanks, so it is unlikely they will beat them during the regular season.

Predicted Rays Record: 92-70

4) Baltimore Orioles

The O's need Crush Davis to have another great season in order to succeed
The O’s need Crush Davis to have another great season in order to succeed

Unlike previous seasons, the Orioles spent a lot of money this offseason to improve their team. Last season, the Orioles won 85 games, but still finished 6.5 games out of the wild card race. The Orioles possessed one of the best and most explosive lineups in the league a season ago. The Orioles are led by the middle of their order, which includes stars Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, and JJ Hardy. Although the lineup was already deep, they signed power hitting outfielder, Nelson Cruz, to a one year deal. Also, the Orioles will be returning Manny Machado from a serious knee injury, which will bolster the squad. In terms of defense, the Orioles have a solid defense because Jones, Hardy, Wieters, and Machado are great fielders and man the most important defensive positions.

Although the Orioles’ offense and defense is very good, the pitching could pose problems for the Orioles as they attempt to make the playoffs. The Orioles signed Ubaldo Jimenez this offseason and are hoping that he returns to his Rockies’ second half form. The Orioles do not have an ace, but have multiple quality pitchers. The Orioles’ staff, Jimenez, Tillman, Norris, Gausman, and Chen, is deep and should be able to win games against the back of opposing teams’ staff. If the Orioles do experience injuries, they have multiple options that will allow them to continue winning. In the bullpen, the Orioles have multiple weapons that can throw hard and strike out opposing hitters late in games. Although the O’s dumped former closer Jim Johnson, they will be replacing him with Tommy Hunter. Hunter throws extremely hard and has been able to pitch well over the past few seasons as an eighth inning pitcher. Along with hard throwing from the right side, Brian Matusz is a lefty specialist that pitches in the mid to high nineties and has improved over the past few seasons.

Although the Orioles improved their team this offseason, the other teams in this division have improved as well, so it is unlikely they will noticeably improve their win total from last season.

Predicted Orioles Record: 85-77

5) Toronto Blue Jays

The Jays hope they can avoid the East cellar
The Jays hope they can avoid the East cellar

The Blue Jays entered last season as one of the best teams on paper and many thought they would be one of the best teams in the league. However, the Jays did not meet expectations as they suffered many injuries and their players did not play to previous standards.

Like the other American League East teams, the Blue Jays have a threatening lineup. On the infield, the Blue Jays have Jose Reyes, Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie, and Maicer Izturius. In the outfield, the Blue Jays will be led by Jose Bautista, Melky Cabrera, and Colby Rasmus. The Blue Jays have one of the best 3-4 hitting duos in the league because Bautista is one of the best power hitters and Encaracion has turned into one of the better hitters after a sluggish start to his career. At the top of the order, the Blue Jays will have Reyes and Cabrera at the one-two positions as they both have great speed and the ability to reach base at a very high percentage. If the duo can stay healthy, they will score a lot of runs and help the Blue Jays score runs because Bautista and Encarnacion should both be able to record at least 100 RBIs. Although the Jays have the potential for a great offense, their defense does not have the same ability.

In terms of pitching, the Blue Jays have many questions in their rotation, which negatively separates them from the rest of the teams. Although the Blue Jays gave up two very good prospects to the Mets, they did not receive great production from RA Dickey last season. Although Dickey should be able to achieve more success this season because he is now healthy, it is unknown if he can return to his Cy Young form. After Dickey, the Jays have Brandon Marrow, Mark Buehrle, JA Happ, and Esmil Rogers in the rotation. Mark Buehrle and Esmil Rogers are steady pitchers and should provide the Blue Jays with consistent quality outings. Although Marrow and Happ have great talent and have shown they can produce at the major league level, they are consistently injured and cannot pitch at their full potential. If the duo can remain healthy, the Blue Jays can compete in the East and win about 85 to 90 games.

Although the Jays may have the worst starting rotation in the division, it is likely they have the best bullpen. The back of the Jays bullpen is very solid with Sergio Santos as the closer and Steve Delbar and Brett Cecil as the set up men. Last year, Cecil and Delbar had great seasons and made the All-Star team. If the Jays can maintain a lead into the 7th inning, they will have a great chance of winning games and competing for the last Wild Card spot. Unless the Jays have a few surprises in the rotation, it is unlikely they will win more than 80 games in the difficult AL East.

Predicted Blue Jays Record: 78-84

 

Pics and stats from ESPN.com

10 Most Memorable Sports Moments of 2013

By: Prad

What a year it’s been for the sports community. 2013 has included a myriad of emotions surrounding various events from terrorist attacks to retirements. Unfortunately, I have compiled solely the top 10 moments of the year, so many deserving moments did not make the cut.

10) Superdome Lighting Failure

Half of the Superdome in darkness Courtesy of NY Times
Half of the Superdome in darkness
Courtesy of NY Times

Normally this should not be classified under “most memorable”, but the magnitude of the lighting failure is of note. New Orleans spent an estimated $471 million on this year’s Super Bowl. With almost half a billion dollars, you’d expect for at least all the lights to work, something that should have been a top priority for the Superdome maintenance staff. With 13:22 minutes left in the third quarter, half of the stadium plunged into darkness leaving TV viewers, players, and especially the audience confused. The partial blackout remained for a whopping 34 minutes. Apparently, Beyonce’s extravagant halftime show is somewhat responsible for the outage because of the amount of lighting used during her performance, forcing the device that detects electrical load to open a breaker and cut the lights.

9) Dunk City, USA

FGCU had a lot of fun during their ride to the Sweet Sixteen Courtesy of Naples News
FGCU had a lot of fun during its ride to the Sweet Sixteen
Courtesy of Naples News

Florida Gulf Coast University had quite the emergence on the national stage in 2013 by taking down #2 Georgetown in March. And then #7 San Diego St. went down for an encore performance. FGCU became the first #15 seed in NCAA history to reach the Sweet Sixteen. The wins were definitely impressive, but what made it even better was the excitement that the players on that team brought to the court in those two games. Dunk after dunk brought the city of Fort Meyers the fitting name of “Dunk City, USA.” The alley-oops were great, but the Cinderella story was even better. FGCU, a college that was founded in 1991, defeated the mighty Georgetown Hoyas, a team that has been playing for over a century. Plus, the 2012 – 2013 season was their first Division 1 season and first appearance in the NCAA tournament.

8) Mile High Miracle

Joe Flacco's pass lands perfectly past CB Rahim Moore's outstretched arm Courtesy of Bleacher Report
Joe Flacco’s pass lands perfectly past CB Rahim Moore’s outstretched arm
Courtesy of Bleacher Report

This AFC divisional – round game between the Ravens and Broncos came down to a final Baltimore drive with under a minute remaining. A true playoff classic was sent into overtime after a 70 yard heave from QB Joe Flacco to WR Jacoby Jones resulted in a touchdown with 31 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter. This TD brought the score to 35-35, a score that remained for the next 15 minutes resulting in a second overtime period. It ended up being the fourth longest game in NFL playoff history. Sadly for Denver fans, the game ended with a Manning interception and a Justin Tucker 47 yard field goal. Final score: 38-35. The Ravens were thankful for a birth in the AFC Championship game en route to a Super Bowl win. And undoubtedly,  the 70 yard TD grab was the highlight of an unforgettable season for Baltimore.

7) Louisville’s Inspiration

Kevin Ware wanted nothing but a championship Courtesy of Examiner.com
Kevin Ware wanted nothing but a championship
Courtesy of Examiner.com

Essentially every single sports fan in the nation has seen Kevin Ware’s gruesome injury suffered in the win against Duke in the Elite Eight. Everyone on the court was able to see the actual white of Ware’s tibia sticking out of his skin. People who witnessed it agree that it was definitely the most graphic injury they have ever seen and that’s saying something in an internet age where every injury is seen by everybody. More importantly, the words uttered from Kevin Ware’s mouth immediately following his horrific injury stayed with Louisville for the rest of the tourney. “Just win the game. I’m OK. Just win the game.” The boys on that team did every thing they did for Ware. That inspiration and team bond led them to victory over Wichita St. in the Final Four and Michigan in the National Championship game.

6) A British Savior

Andy Murray ended the 77 year Wimbledon drought for England Courtesy of USA Today
Andy Murray ended the 77 year Wimbledon drought for England
Courtesy of USA Today

It appeared that Andy Murray had wasted his best chance of winning Wimbledon when he succumbed to Roger Federer in 2012’s Wimbledon Final. But, the best was yet to come. On July 7, 2013 Murray defeated #1 Novak Djokovic, a former Wimbledon champion, to make Wimbledon history. A player from Great Britain had not won Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936, which was 77 years ago. He was deemed a “choker” on the biggest of stages before his 2012 US Open title, his first Grand Slam. Prior to winning that US Open, he had lost in four Grand Slam finals and six Grand Slam semi-finals. The entire United Kingdom had placed the burden of winning a Grand Slam for years on Andy Murray and he answered the call by capturing Wimbledon this year. This was a truly momentous occasion for a country that dominated the sport decades ago.

5) The First Openly Gay Athlete in North American Professional Sports

Jason Collins is still vying for an NBA contract Courtesy of Sports Illustrated
Jason Collins is still vying for an NBA contract
Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

In SI’s May 6 issue this year, Jason Collins became the first openly gay athlete in the four major North American Professional sports. The support he received the following days and months was unexpected. The social media circus immediately following the announcement was shocking as he received more complimentary remarks than derogatory.  He started, in his words, a “conversation” that will lead to more athletes coming out openly with their sexual preference. The Stanford product has played 12 seasons in the NBA as a center, but is not currently under contract with any team. Despite his announcement, he is still attempting to sign another contract with an NBA franchise. This barrier needed to be broken at some point and it did in 2013.

4) The Greatest Closer Says Goodbye

Longtime teammates Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter gave Rivera the ball for one last time in Yankees Stadium Courtesy of NY Daily News
Longtime teammates Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter took the ball from Rivera one last time
Courtesy of NY Daily News

On September 16, Mariano Rivera pitched his final game in front of the home crowd at Yankee Stadium. After almost two decades, all with the New York Yankees, Rivera tallied 652 saves and 42 postseason saves, both of which are records. Fans and analysts identify Rivera as arguably the greatest closer in baseball history. He is also the last player in MLB history to wear #42, because on the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut, MLB commissioner Bud Selig retired #42 for all teams. However, there were 13 players in the league who already wore the #42 uniform, so Selig allowed them to wear it until they retired. And Rivera was the last of the 13 still playing.  He certainly did #42 justice by pitching his best when it mattered most and doing so with grace and dignity. It will be very difficult to find another player who carries himself with such respect for his peers and the game. Sandman will be eternally missed by baseball fans.

3) Auburn’s Magical Iron Bowl

Chris Davis crushed Alabama's hopes Courtesy of The Washington Post
Chris Davis crushed Alabama’s hopes
Courtesy of The Washington Post

Many consider the ending to the Iron Bowl on November 30 the greatest finish in football history. The ending was not only immensely exciting, but the implications involved made for a moment that will be difficult to ever replicate. The moment Chris Davis ran past the last diving Alabama player at the 45 yard line, every single viewer was in disbelief of what they had just witnessed. Davis returned a missed field goal 109 yards for a touchdown as time expired, giving Auburn the victory and signaling an end to Alabama’s dream of winning a third consecutive BCS National Championship and a fourth in a five year span. The win gave Auburn the chance to play in the SEC Championship game against Missouri too. The victory against Missouri gives them the #2 ranking and a trip to Pasadena for the BCS Championship game on January 6, 2014. This was quite the turnaround from a season ago when Auburn football went 3-9 and 0-8 against SEC opponents. Currently, the Tigers stand at 12-1 and have had one of the best improvements in terms of record in NCAA football history. Even if Auburn loses to #1 Florida St. in the final BCS National Championship game, their season will still be considered a remarkable one that will not be forgotten for a long time.

2) Ray Allen and Miami’s Miraculous Comeback

The Larry O'brein trophy was being reeled in with 5.2 seconds left and an all but sure Spurs victory Courtesy of The Boston Globe
The Spurs had an almost guaranteed victory with 5.2 second left in Game 6
Courtesy of The Boston Globe

The staff at American Airlines Arena was reeling in the Larry O’Brien Trophy with around 20 seconds remaining in regulation. The score was 95-92 and the Heat didn’t have any timeouts left, an inevitable Spurs victory. On the following Heat possession, LeBron James missed a three but Chris Bosh was able to secure the rebound and pass it back to a backpedaling Ray Allen in the corner, yes the corner three, it’s where Allen has made his living for the last 17 seasons. And Allen drills it with 5.2 seconds left in the game. Score: 95-95. Miami then outscored San Antonio in the ensuing overtime period for a final score of 103-100. Allen made some big shots in overtime as well accounting for four of the eight points in an NBA Finals thriller that will remain a classic for decades to come. With this much momentum heading into Game 7, Miami couldn’t lose and they didn’t disappoint. A stellar 37-point performance from LeBron gave the Heat a 95-88 Game 7 victory and a second consecutive Larry O’Brien Trophy. LeBron’s triple-double in Game 6 and aforementioned 37-point outburst in Game 7 of the Finals were certainly great spectacles, but Ray Allen’s shot with 5.2 seconds left in Game 6 is one of the greatest moments in NBA Finals history. Period.

1) Boston Strong

 Courtesy of ESPN
Boston’s resiliency captured the hearts of many
Courtesy of ESPN

On April 15, Boston witnessed a horrific terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon resulting in 3 deaths and hundreds of injuries. The 117th running of the race was marred by two bombs near the finish line on the famous Boylston St. Five days after the bombings, David Ortiz gave a pre-game speech at Fenway and said that “this is our (expletive) city.” Boston has always been known for its uncompromising dedication to its sports teams, but support was at an all time high throughout 2013 after the bombings. Its teams played with greater determination and will than ever before as a result and it was evident in the successful seasons for the Bruins and Red Sox. The Boston Bruins made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals eventually losing to the Chicago Blackhawks. And four months later, the Red Sox had an opportunity to accomplish something great in the wake of the disaster and they delivered. The Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in six games in the World Series. The unwavering support from Boston fans definitely helped them clinch a third title in nine seasons. Although, the success of the Sox can’t completely eradicate the painful memories of the bombings, the Boston Red Sox certainly lifted the spirits of many who were affected by the tragedy.

How Soriano and A-Rod can alter the Yankees salary for 2014

By: Jon

The players on the Yankees current roster have salaries that add up to over 250 million dollars. To put that number into perspective, the salary of the AL All-Stars only added up to 300,000 more dollars than the Yankees. However, the Yankees true payroll “only” adds up to $203 million. The Yankees will have a lot of options and decisions this offseason because of their desire to have their payroll under $189 million. Although it seems like a random number, it is the luxury tax number for Major League Baseball. The Yankees have been hit with the luxury tax for eleven consecutive seasons. The owner of the Yankees, Hal Steinbrenner, does not want to pay more luxury tax because the rate significantly rises this year. However, if the Yankees could keep their salary under $189 million, their tax rate would reset to 17.5% and the Yankees would save lots of money. If the Yankees maintain there current spending, they would pay 50%, which is about $25 million. The Yankees have 7 of the 25 highest paid players in baseball and 7 of the highest 12 in the AL.

However, the Yankees have a real chance of keeping their salary under the 189 marker if they are smart and dedicated. The Yankees have been planning a long time for this offseason because they have a strong desire to save money. Thus they will have a lot of free agents and options. Currently, the Yankees payroll is set for $86 million, but this is for a six players, Sabathia, Rodriguez, Teixeira, Wells, Soriano, and Suzuki. However, the Yankees will have to spend less than $103 million to stay under their desired limitation of $189 million. However, the Yankees will have many Arbitration Eligible players, but they will not greatly affect the Yankees aspirations.

Following moves that the Yankees should make this offseason:

1. Sign Robinson Cano.

Robinson Cano
Robinson Cano

The Yankees must re-sign Cano this offseason if they want anyone to come and watch them play this offseason. Cano is the Yankees best player and it is an absolute must that they re-sign him to a long term deal. Luckily for the Yankees, teams have realized troubles of signing a player to a deal longer than 8 years. The Yankees should attempt to sign him to a deal that is more money per year instead of a 9 or 10 year deal. The Red Sox deal with Dustin Pedroia will help the Yankees because he signed for under market value. Pedroia’s average deal is for $14 million per year. Cano is not twice as good as Pedroia so he will probably sign a deal for 6-7 years and $25 million per season.

Yankees Salary after Cano: $111

2. Have Jeter opt into his current deal or re-sign for a less money.

Derek Jeter
Derek Jeter

The Yankees captain will not be in great position to sign a big deal during the offseason. Although he is a good player, he is old and injury prone. Teams will not be willing to spend big bucks for a 39 year old shortstop, who has lost range and is not a power hitter. Derek knows that his best possibility to brand himself and succeed is in New York with the Yankees. Although Jeter may opt out of his current deal and re-sign with the Yankees, he will not get much more than the $8 million he would get if he opted in to his deal. If he opts out he will sign for 3 years 8-10 per season

Yankees salary after Jeter: $120

3. Re-sign Brett Gardner.

Brett Gardner
Brett Gardner

The Yankees will need to have more speed because their offense is not as good as previous years. Gardner is having a good season for the Yankees. He is a steady contributor, steals bases, and plays great defenses. Gardner should win the Gold Glove this season because he plays great defense and can cover lots of ground in center field. Since Gardner is arbitration eligible, he will not be an expensive option in the outfield. He will probably sign another one-year deal for $5 million.

Yankees salary after Gardner: $125

4. Re-sign David Robertson.

David Robertson
David Robertson

Robertson is in the same position as Gardner, last year of arbitration. Robertson has been one of the best set up men in the league over the last three seasons. David will take an even bigger role next season, when Mariano Rivera retires and the closer position is free. Although the Yankees will want to replace Rivera with an established closer, it will probably be too expensive. Robertson may be able to step in for Rivera. Also a set up man will be easier to sign than an established closer. He will probably sign another one-year deal for $6 million.

Yankees salary after Robertson: $131

5. Re-sign Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda.

Ivan Nova
Ivan Nova

The Yankees will be forced to put young starters in their starting rotation. Nova has been great as of late for the New York Yankees. Besides for Hiroki Kuroda, Nova has been the Yankees best starting pitcher over the last month. He will be extremely important next season because the Yankees will lose at least one pitcher and probably three. Along with Ivan, Pineda will be an important cog of the Yankees rotation next season. Like Nova, Pineda is young and talented. After having a great rookie season with the Mariners, Pineda has been hurt and spent time in the minors with the Yankees. He will finally have the opportunity to start this year for the Yankees. Luckily for the Yankees, Nova and Pineda will come cheaply, since they are in their first year of arbitration. Expect one million dollar deals for both of them.

Yankees salary after Nova and Pineda: $133

6. Re-sign Eduardo Nunez and David Phelps.

Eduardo Nunez
Eduardo Nunez

Nunez will be an important part of the 2014 New York Yankees because of their age and injuries. Nunez has the ability to plan all around the infield. The Yankees will need him to play short and third next season because Derek and Alex, if he is not suspended, cannot play more than a few days in a row in the field. Nunez has a solid bat and quick bat speed. He has good speed and is a good youthful addition to the New York Yankees. Nunez is not even arbitration eligible so his contract will probably be worth $500,000. However, he will be more important than his contract because he is versatile and a good player. Like Nunez, Phelps is not arbitration eligible. However, he will have an important part of the 2014 team. Phelps will either be the fifth starter or a long man in the bullpen. He is versatile and a solid pitcher when he is healthy. Phelps has been very good for the Yankees as a bullpen arm and an occasional starter. Excess pitching is always necessary in MLB because a lot of pitchers experience injuries.

Yankees salary after Nunez and Phelps: $134

7. Re-sign Curtis Granderson.

Curtis Granderson
Curtis Granderson

Granderson will be an interesting option this offseason. Since he spent most of his time on the DL this season, he will not be receiving the type of deal he would like to sign. The Yankees will most likely offer Granderson a qualifying offer of $13.8 million. If Granderson signs elsewhere, the Yankees will receive a first or second round pick from that team. However, Granderson will probably sign his tender so he can reach free agency again in a year and sign a more lucrative offer. Curtis has been a great teammate and hitter for the Yankees over the last few years, The extra year will enable Curtis to play more and improve his stock. Curtis will provide more power to the Yankees lineup, which they desperately need at this point. Although the Yankee outfield will seem to be crowded, Soriano will play a lot of DH so his bat is in the lineup.

Yankees salary after Granderson: $148

8. Re-sign Shawne Kelley and Boone Logan and call up Mark Montgomery.

Boone Logan
Boone Logan

The Yankees, as usual, have a solid bullpen. The Yankees have been known for their ability to build a strong bullpen. When the Yankees were at their best in the late 1990s, their bullpen was automatic. The Yankees bullpen will undergo a lot of changes this offseason because Rivera will retire and Joba, Preston Claiborne, and Adam Warren will not re-sign this offseason. The Yankees have found a solid relief pitcher in Shawne Kelley this season. Mark Montgomery has been a good relief pitcher for the Yankees in the minors over the last few years. He can have a major impact on the Yankees next season since they will probably be losing 4 right handed relievers. Since the Yankees acquired Logan from the Braves a few years ago, he has been their lefty specialist in the bullpen. Since Logan has not been great this offseason, the Yankees can sign him to a cheap long term deal.

Yankees salary after Kelley (.5), Logan (5), and Montgomery (.5): $154

9. Sign Joel Hanrahan and Scott Downs

Joel Hanrahan
Joel Hanrahan

The Yankees will be undergoing major renovations during the offseason because all of their bullpen arms will be free agents this season. With the departure of Mariano Rivera, the Yankees will have to find a new closer. Although the Yankees hope Robertson can become the closer, he did not succeed last season, when Rivera tore his ACL. The Yankees should sign Joel Hanrahan because he is a veteran arm and knows how to close games at the major league level. Although he has not pitched much this season because of injury, he was extremely successful in the closer role with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Since he did not pitch a lot, he will be willing to sign a cheap contract to reinvent himself for the next offseason, $4 million. The Yankees should sign another lefty pitcher this offseason. Today, teams have a few lefty bullpen arms. Boone Logan is not the most consistent reliever so more depth and talent will help the team. Since Rivera is departing, the Yankees will have more money to spend on their bullpen. Downs would probably be willing to sign a deal for about $5 million.

Yankees salary after Downs and Hanrahan: $157

10. Re-sign Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart.

Francisco Cervelli
Francisco Cervelli

The Yankees will not be able to spend a lot of money on a luxury position, like catcher, if they are going to stay under their budget. Although Francisco may be under speculation because of the Tony Bosch situation, he will probably not heavily suspended. Chris Stewart and Austin Romine will be able to produce at a high enough level until Cervelli returns. Although the production will not be great next season, the Yankees are just waiting for their top prospect Gary Sanchez to be called up to the majors. By 2015, Sanchez should be able to produce for the New York Yankees. The Yankees can live with bad hitting, but solid defense. Both players should sign for about $500,000.

Yankees salary after Stewart and Cervelli: $159

11. Sign Mark Reynolds.

Mark Reynolds
Mark Reynolds

If Alex Rodriguez is not suspended next season, the Yankees will at least need a solid back-up, who can play a lot of games. The Yankees can return to the Bronx Bombers if they sign Mark Reynolds this offseason. Reynolds has great home run power, which will significantly improve the Yankees roster next season. Reynolds will also be able to back-up Mark Teixeira at first baseman if he needs an occasional day off. Reynolds would almost act as a starter because they will be able to play a lot. He will not be that expensive since he consistently has a low average and strikeouts frequently.

Yankees salary after Reynolds: $163

12. Sign Chris Carpenter

Chris Carpenter
Chris Carpenter

Chris Carpenter is one of the most clutch pitchers in baseball. Although he has been hurt over the last two seasons, Carpenter can still pitch, especially in the postseason. Carpenter has led the St. Louis Cardinals to two championships during his career. Since the Yankees want to win championship, he would be a perfect addition because he has a career 3.00 ERA in the postseason. The Yankees will be able to offer Carpenter a incentive laden deal because he has experienced a lot of injuries lately. Carpenter may be willing to leave the Cardinals because they have a deep starting rotation and may not want him anymore. The Yankees would also give Carpenter an opportunity to pitch for a championship. The Yankees should give Chris $5 million in guaranteed money and the possibility to make $11 million if he stays healthy.

Yankees salary after Carpenter- $174

13. Re-sign Kuroda OR sign Josh Johnson.

Hiroki Kuroda
Hiroki Kuroda

The Yankees will need two more starting pitchers this offseason. First, the Yankees should attempt to re-sign Kuroda because he has been great for them over the last two seasons. If they cannot re-sign Kuroda, the Yanks should go after Josh Johnson because he is a solid pitcher with a lot of talent. Kuroda will probably cost more than Johnson for the 2014 season because he will only sign a one year deal. More information later in the article.

Yankees salary after Kuroda- $189

Yankees salary after Johnson- $187

Yankees Roster – $187 or $189 million dollar team

Catcher – Stewart and Cervelli

Infield – Teixeira, Cano, Jeter, Rodriguez, Nunez, and Reynolds

Outfield – Granderson, Suzuki, Gardner, Wells, and Soriano

Starting Pitching – Sabathia, Carpenter, Nova, Pineda, and Johnson/Kuroda

Relief Pitching – Downs, Hanrahan, Kelley, Montgomery, Logan, Robertson, and Phelps

Now, the rest of the Yankees decision will be dependent on Alex Rodriguez. Currently, the Yankees are set to pay $27 million to Alex Rodriguez next season for his services. However, the Yankees would love to rid themselves of his contract so they could sign more productive players. Although the Yankees will not be able to void the whole contract, there may be a way that they can get rid of Rodriguez’s contract for the 2014 season. If MLB suspends Rodriguez for the 2014 season, the New York Yankees will be able to write off his salary. Thus the salary would not count against the payroll, which would be great for the New York Yankees. The Yankees will be given a lot more flexibility and options if A-Rod’s contract does not count against the payroll. Instead of the approximate $28 million, the Yankees would have $55 million more dollars to spend on free agents. The Yankees and their fans should hope that Alex is suspended for the rest of this season and especially next season. The following moves should occur if the MLB saves the Yankees and their fans.

Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez

14. Sign Matt Garza.

Matt Garza
Matt Garza

The Yankees will desperately need pitching next season. The Yankees will probably lose three starting pitchers. Matt Garza would be a great addition to the Yankees because he knows how to pitch in the AL East and has pitched in the post season. Garza is a great arm, but has injury concerns. Garza’s injuries may drop the price tag on Matt Garza this offseason. Since he was hurt over the last few seasons, he does not have the innings pitched like other pitchers. Garza is a solid two for the Yankees and will probably be paid as such during the offseason. Since CC has been ineffective this season and Nova and Pineda are inexperienced, the Yankees will desperately need a talented work horse. He will be an expensive piece this offseason. 5 years at 18 million per season. The Yankees may even be able to offer more money per season than the $18 million. The Yankees will only be able to sign him if A-Rod is suspended.

Without Rodriguez and with Garza – $153

15. Sign Michael Young.

Michael Young
Michael Young

Since Alex Rodriguez will be unable to play if he is suspended, the Yankees will need a player who can play third base. Michael Young is a competent starter and would be a great addition for the New York Yankees. Young is still batting .277 with 7 HR and 32 RBI. Young would sign a one year deal with the Yankees because it would give him a chance to play in the postseason. He would also be given the starting third base position, which some teams would not offer to Young. Young would probably not be too expensive for the Yankees since he is older and on the down side of his career. The Yankees could sign him for $6 million a season.

Without Rodriguez and With Young- $159

16. Sign Carlos Pena/Lyle Overbay rather than Mark Reynolds

Lyle Overbay
Lyle Overbay

The Yankees will need a left handed batter off of the bench instead of a right handed bat. The Yankees do not need another right handed bat off of the bench because they have a few bats from the outfield who are right handed and Eduardo Nunez is right handed. Pena can provide a lot of power off of the bench, which would be great for the team. Pena can also back up Mark Teixeira if he is hurt or needs a day off. Pena would be cheap because he has a lot of flaws. He would cost about 1 million compared to 5 million for Reynolds.

Without Rodriguez and with Pena/Overbay: $155

17. Desperately attempt to re-sign Kuroda OR Carpenter AND sign Josh Johnson.

Josh Johnson
Josh Johnson

If the Yankees sign Matt Garza, they will still be in need of one or two more starting pitchers, in order to be a quality, playoff baseball team. The Yankees desperately need to re-sign Hiroki Kuroda for the 2014 season. Similar to Andy Pettitte, he will be signing one year deals for the rest of his career. However, this could be the end for Kuroda, but it is not because of his performance. Over the past two seasons, Kuroda has been the Yankees most consistent and best pitcher. Although Kuroda does not blow away batters, he is extremely smart and does not allow runs to score, 2.51 ERA. He would be a great 2 or 3 for the Yankees during the 2014 season. He would probably sign another $15 million deal. Besides for Hiroki, the Yankees should attempt to sign Josh Johnson this offseason. If Kuroda signs this offseason, the Yankees will have three definite starting pitchers in the  rotation. The Yankees would love to have another solid starting pitcher in their rotation, instead of having Nova and Pineda in the starting rotation. If the Yankees sign another solid starting pitcher, Nova and Pineda will not have the pressure of succeeding. If Kuroda does not re-sign, the Yankees will desperately need another starting pitcher and Johnson can fill that need. Although he has not be great this season like other free agent pitchers, he has the most skill and talent. Johnson has improved since coming off of the DL. He would not demand a huge contract, like other pitchers, because he was on the DL this season and has not been great over the last few seasons. The Yankees can sign him for 4 years and $52 million or maybe a deal closer to Kuroda so he can rebound for the next season and score a huge deal like Garza.

Without Rodriguez and with Kuroda and Johnson – $183

Without Rodriguez and Kuroda and with Johnson and Carpenter – $180

If the Yankees are able to dump the A-Rod salary for the 2014 season, the team will be significantly better.

Yankees Roster – $180 or $183 million dollar team

Catcher – Stewart and Cervelli

Infield – Teixeira, Cano, Jeter, Young, Nunez, and Reynolds

Outfield – Granderson, Suzuki, Gardner, Wells, and Soriano

Starting Pitching – Sabathia, Garza, Carpenter/Kuroda, Nova/Pineda, and Johnson

Relief Pitching – Downs, Hanrahan, Kelley, Montgomery, Logan, Robertson, and Phelps

Stats and Pics from ESPN.com