by APOORVA KETHIDI Staff Writer
The New York Yankees have only won a single World Series in the last 14 years, but this pre-season’s statistics show that 2014 just might be their year again.
When the Yankees failed to make the playoffs in 2008, the Steinbrenners spent $423.5 million on contracts for players C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira.
The Yankees subsequently honored their new stadium by winning their 27th World Series title in 2009.
Last year’s squad not only failed to make the post-season for the first time since ‘08, but the players’ performance levels were lower than expected. The offense posted a .242 batting average, scored just 650 runs, and only hit 144 home runs.
To avoid overpaying, the front office said they would like to keep this year’s payroll at or below $189 million to avoid skyrocketing taxes and unnecessary payment.
However, Hal Steinbrenner did the exact opposite and shelled out more than half a billion dollars for Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, and Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.
Freshman Erika Delgado said, ”I think that this season’s rotation is strong, but I still don’t understand why Steinbrenner creates maximum salary guidelines when he himself does not follow them. Limit or no limit… pick a side Hal.”
During the pre-season, the Yankees had a record of 17-12 and were only three games behind. The statistics and players have greatly improved.
As the Yankees closed out spring training last week, Sabathia and Tanaka gave strong performances. Brett Gardner and Michael Pineda also continue to look strong.
Although Toronto beat them on Sunday, March 23 by a score of 3-1, Pineda allowed only two earned runs in six innings. He appears ready to be counted on as the fifth man in the rotation. Beltran and Gardner each went two-for-three.
After another loss on Monday, March 24, the Yankees fell to the Philadelphia Phillies 6-0 on Tuesday, March 25. They had many opportunities, but left 10 men on base. This was obviously not their best performance. The one bright spot of the day was Gardner; he went three-for-three to make him five-for-six in the first two games of that week.
“Gardner has proven herself even more during spring training. I thought last season was ‘his season’, but I cannot wait to see what he will do in 2014,” said freshman Caroline Waksmunski.
On Wednesday, March 26, the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Yankees 10-6 after a disappointing outing by Preston Claiborne. Claiborne gave up four runs and six hits, and could not get out of his inning. Claiborne still has not returned to the form he showed for a long stretch last season.
Beltran went two-for-three, including a two-run double.
The Yankees were able to snap the three-game skid on Thursday, March 27 with a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sabathia put the finishing touches on his opening day preparation with four strong innings, where he allowed only three hits to earn the win.
Ichiro Suzuki, Eduardo Nunez, and Zoilo Almonte had three hits each. Nunez played third base, giving manager Joe Girardi another chance to evaluate him there before the start of the season. Almonte went three-for-three to raise his spring batting average to .410.
The highlight of the week was the performance of Tanaka on Friday, March 28. He allowed only three hits while striking out 10 and walking none in six innings as the Yankees shut out the Florida Marlins 3-0. That gave him a record of 2-0 with an ERA of 2.14.
Gardner had two stolen bases, one on second and one on third.
The Yankees are ready for opening day and the start of reclaiming the American League East title.
Pineda was named the fifth starter, Claiborne was optioned, and Dellin Betances and Vidal Nuno were added to the bullpen. Also, Brendan Ryan was placed on the disabled list, Nunez was optioned to Triple-A Scranton, and Dean Anna along with Yangervis Solarte were added to the 25-man roster.
The regular season began on Tuesday, April 1 with the Yankees losing to the Houston Astros 6-2.
How do you think the Yankees will do the for the rest of this season?