What I’m Watching — From A Yankee Fan’s Perspective

03/10/2010 4:15 PM -  Craig Davis

It absolutely amazes me that I get phone calls and text messages from my “friends” when the Yankees lose a spring training game. Hello people… IT’S SPRING TRAINING!!! I guess I shouldn’t expect anything less than jealousy and hatred from fans of the other 29 teams in Major League Baseball. When you’re on top, you have a target on your back and everyone wants to knock you down. Such is the life of a Yankees fan…

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about today. Today, as a Yankees fan and a fantasy baseball player, I wanted to address two key issues for the defending champs as they head into the 2010 regular (and post) season.

The first, most pressing, question for the Bronx Bombers has nothing to do with their bats. Finding a 5th starter among about 5 different guys is going to be the first item of business. At the moment, it appears to be a two-horse race between Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes. On the surface, it might appear Joba is the front-runner because they have groomed him over the last three years with the “Joba Rules” in an attempt to protect his arm from what Mark Prior went through in Chicago. Instead, the Yanks have turned down numerous trade offers for Phil Hughes because they believe he has “starter stuff”.

I would say, based on everything I’ve read and heard, Phil Hughes is the favorite right now based on his spring workouts and the fact they believe he can go deeper in ball games. But don’t count out Chamberlain OR a cast of others who “spot-started” in 2009. Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre and Alfredo Aceves have at least one start to their resume and will be “mixed and matched” depending on the situation. This MESS has red flag written all over it. I wouldn’t even take a flier on the latter three unless I was in a deep, AL-Only league and I could get them for a dollar or two.

As for Chamberlain and Hughes, these two obviously have some value in both AL-only and mixed leagues, but it’s tough to gauge how much value depending, ultimately, on their roles. Chris McDonnell has done an excellent job with his projections and auction dollar values, and if you haven’t purchased these you are going into your draft/auction with your pants down. My guess… Hughes is the 5th starter to begin the season, but he’s on a short leash and could easily get moved into the bullpen with a few sub-par outings.

The second topic at hand is the addition of Granderson and Nick Johnson and the departure of Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. Who bats 2-hole, who plays left field, where does Granderson fit? Those questions must be answered in the next 20 days. Johnson returns for his second stint in New York and made a nice name for himself yesterday by bashing two home runs batting in the #2 spot. Remember, he’s still only 31 years old and his lefty swing is a nice fit in Yankee Stadium… the same place that the recently departed Matsui found so much success. If Johnson can stay healthy, he should keep his spot at the top of the Yankees batting order. However, there have been some rumblings the Yanks might toy with the idea of putting Granderson in that spot.

Johnson has some decent “sleeper” value batting in that lineup (especially if he keeps his job at the top of the order). Remember, he has a career .402 OBP and a fairly impressive HR/AB rate of 28.5 that should improve with a short porch in right field.

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