What will the 2011 Opening Day Yankees Look Like?

So many question marks remain for the Yankees this offseason.

Will Cliff Lee go for the money in the Bronx, or will he stay close to home and return to Texas? Will Derek Jeter be in a different uniform next season, and if so who is the starting shortstop for the Yankees? Is Andy Pettitte coming back for one last title run? How will the catching rotation work out, is it Jorge Posada, Jesus Montero, or Francisco Cervelli? What is the bullpen going to look like?

Those are the hot topics around the Yankees camp this winter, and who knows how they will all turn out? But this is how I see things stacking up for the Yankees when they face the Detroit Tigers on March 31, 2011.

Starting Lineup:

1. LF – Brett Gardner – Takes over lead-off spot in lineup after proving his ability to hit consistently in the big leagues last year, adds a ton of speed and athleticism.

2. SS РDerek Jeter -  Coming off of his worst year offensively, Joe Girardi will move him back to his traditional two-hole in the lineup, hoping the Captain can bounce back and turn in a solid performance. He is also looking for his 3,000th career hit.

3. 2B – Robinson Cano – He gets a promotion to number three in the lineup after posting MVP caliber numbers last year behind Teixeira and A-Rod, plus his higher BA and OBP fits the spot better than Teixeira.

4. 3B – Alex Rodriguez – A-Rod remains the cleanup man after leading the team in RBI last year, and should do the same in 2011.

5. 1B – Mark Teixeira – Perhaps one of the players happiest to begin a new season, because 2010 was dreadful. He got off to a terrible start and couldn’t totally rebound and finished with his career worst BA of .256, certainly not good enough to remain in the three-hole

6. RF – Nick Swisher – Coming off the best season of his career, Swish will look to continue his success at the plate and cash in on it, 2011 being a contract year for him.

7. DH – Jorge Posada – The change had to be made at some point and Jorge might as well ride out his last season in comfort, taking over as the primary DH next year.

8. C – Jesus Montero – The star prospect that we have all been hearing about and waiting to see will get his chance to live up to all the hype and show his true potential on the brightest stage in all of baseball, Yankee Stadium.

9. CF – Curtis Granderson – Curtis revamped his swing and finally warmed up to the Pinstripes at the end of last year, and I expect a big season out of him in 2011. His combination of speed and power could land him in the lead-off spot if Gardner can’t handle it.

Starting Rotation:

1. CC Sabathia – He’s the ace of the staff and arguably the MVP of the Yankees last year, being the one constant in the starting rotation all year.

2. Cliff Lee – The Yankees have the most money and that’s what Lee wants, so I believe he will be in Pinstripes next season and if he is, the Yankees certainly have the best 1-2 punch in baseball, which always helps in the postseason.

3. Phil Hughes – Coming off of an 18 win season in 2010, look for him to improve in 2011 without the innings limit.

4. Andy Pettitte – You can’t say enough about his performance last year when he was healthy. An unfortunate groin injury halted the best start to a season in his career early and Cliff Lee out dueled him in the ALCS, but that just might drive him to give it one more shot in 2011.

5. A.J. Burnett – A repeat of 2010 simply cannot happen for A.J. The Yankees can’t afford to drop him from the starting rotation or trade him away due to his $16 million salary. Larry Rothschild thought Carlos Zambrano was a hard case; wait till he gets a load of this guy. Good Luck Larry.

Bullpen:

CL – Mariano Rivera – The Sandman will be back and probably just as good as always, looking to join Trevor Hoffman in the 600 saves club.

The Bridge:

David Robertson – With Kerry Wood likely gone Robertson will look to fill the void with his high strikeout ratio.

Joba Chamberlain – He was the eighth inning man last year but too many blow outs quickly dropped him from that role. The Yankees have not given up completely on him and still feel he has value, so we shall see what happens next year, but he could be on the move at the trade deadline.

Boone Logan – The lefty specialist was probably the best part of the Javier Vazquez trade last off-season, and he looks to carry over his success from 2010 to 2011.

Alfredo Aceves – He wasn’t much of a factor last season, having been injured early, but according to recent reports he is healthy and expected back in 2011. He played a big role in 2009 and is vital to the bullpen’s success.

Bench:

IF – Eduardo Nunez – Has a solid bat and can play the infield and possibly the corner outfield positions if needed.

C – Francisco Cervelli – Doesn’t add much with the bat, but is full of energy behind the plate and pitchers seem to feel comfortable with him. However, with Montero the starting catcher and Posada the DH, Cervelli might see his playing time severely reduced if Posada fills in for Montero.

OF – Colin Curtis – Has some pop with the bat, but will be used primarily as a late defensive substitution.

IF – Brandon Laird – A big run producer in the minors and could add a strong bat to the big league bench, but he certainly doesn’t have the versatility of Ramiro Pena.

That’s what my 2011 opening day Yankees look like, but obviously March 31 is a long ways away and lots could change between now and then.

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6 Responses to What will the 2011 Opening Day Yankees Look Like?

  1. michael occhipinti says:

    opening day will probably look like it does today,a 500 team at best,cashman says he is being patient while other teams around them has improved their chances of winning.it hard to say whether cashman has his hands tied or he just does not get it.

    • Could you explain how they are going from 95 wins to 81 wins with essentially the same roster plus Martin and Feliciano?

      • michael occhipinti says:

        it is hard to expect cc to win 21 games again,no one thinks hughs will win 18 games again.without an effective andy pettite and his 13 wins will reduce those 95 wins ,father time is showing in a-rod and jeter(although i think jeter will have a better year).now factor in a healthy and improved boston team and those 95 wins look like only a dream,no one wants the yankees to win more than me.my father took me to yankee stadium when joe dimaggio was playing.i just think that cashman has blown it this year

        • Lucas Weick says:

          You have a point with Pettitte not being back (as of right now anyways) and that father time is catching up to some of the Yankees stars. But to say that Hughes probably won't win 18 games again and that 20+ wins from CC isn't likely, I would have to disagree. Wouldn't CC have an even better shot to win 20+ games next season? Considering he will be by far the best pitcher in the weaker rotation and thus will be relied heavily upon to win more games, could even possibly see him on three days rest late in the year if the Yanks are on the fringe of the postseason.

          And as far as Boston goes, yes they have gotten better, but a lot of people are forgetting that they lost their starting catcher and arguably their team MVP last year, Adrain Beltre. And beyond Jon Lester and Clay Bucholz, their rotation is not that great. Beckett had a terrible year last year, Dice-K throws 30 pitches an inning and is out of gas by the 5th inning, and John Lackey had his highest ERA since 2004. They are going to be better, but not to the degree that everyone thinks.

          95 wins is reachable for this Yankees team, and should be good enough to get in the playoffs, one way or the other.

        • I don't think the Red Sox are that much improved. They lost two of their best hitters and got two very good hitters. They added to their bullpen which will make a bigger impact than those two bats.

          But the Orioles are more or less the same. The Blue Jays are worse, and the Rays are much worse. Whatever wins they lose to the Red Sox they'll pick up on the Rays. None of the wildcard teams have greatly improved. I think the Yankees are a 90-95 win team easily.