Joel Sherman of the NY Post recently listed the 10 things the Yankees need for a dream season in 2014. Here is a list of the 10 items:
- Jeter starts 130 games at short and Mark Teixeira 140 at first. Because the alternatives are hardly appetizing. If Jeter can hit even .275 and be steady while limited on defense and Teixeira can provide 25 homers, it stabilizes an infield that feels so uncertain today.
- Masahiro Tanaka — like, say, Orlando Hernandez — quickly gives the impression he can handle the upgrade in competition in a new forum, providing a sense he is in control of his starts in a way, say, A.J. Burnett or Hideki Irabu never truly did.
- Michael Pineda makes 25 starts, pitches like a high-end No. 3 starter and leaves no doubt the Yankees won their Jesus Montero trade with the Mariners. Just as important, the Yankees leave the 2014 season believing they can build future rotations around Tanaka, Pineda, Ivan Nova and Manny Banuelos (who shows health and promise both at Triple-A and in major league cameos).
- David Robertson can not only handle the ninth inning, but someone such as Jose Ramirez or Preston Claiborne shows himself capable of replacing Robertson as the set-up man.
- Brian McCann not only turns the short right-field porch into his personal shooting gallery, but exhibits the kind of leadership skills that show he can take the baton from Jeter and be a stabilizing force in the clubhouse for years to come.
- Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner avoid injury and use their speed to steal a few outs on defense and drive opposing pitchers to distraction on offense by combining for 90 steals.
- CC Sabathia, with distance from his elbow surgery and comfort at his lighter weight, morphs into Andy Pettitte — 200 innings of reliability on the field, steadiness in the clubhouse.
- Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano show they still have it in their late-30s, combining for 50 homers while sharing a corner-outfield slot and the DH.
- Eduardo Nunez, who blew a golden shortstop opportunity while Jeter healed last year, capitalizes on his last best chance as a Yankee by showing last September, when he had an .808 OPS and fielded superbly at third, was no fluke.
- Gary Sanchez emerges as a top-20 prospect going into the 2015 campaign and at least one from among Tyler Austin, Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams is top 40, giving some life to what has been a too-dormant Yankees system.
Sherman hits these 10 on the head. If the Yankees can stay healthy there is no doubt they can win at least 90 games this season. However, with an average age of 33.5 years, they may have their work cut out for them.by