With the 2013 season behind us and with no postseason, the only thing left to do is to grade the Yankees (and for them to hope that they get a good grade). Here are the grades I gave to players from highest to lowest:
Mariano Rivera: In his final season, Rivera once again dazzled everyone with his dancing cutter and his ability to get hitters out. The fact that this was all after getting knee surgery AND battling arm soreness in September makes Rivera a grind-out, legendary pitcher. I might have raised his grade up just for making me emotional when he cried in his final home game of 2013.
Robinson Cano: Robinson Cano’s average and RBI numbers are amazing. His defense is flawless and he’s one of the best second basemen in the league. However, I had to dock a few points off his grade because of his failure to hustle at all times.
Alfonso Soriano: Alfonso Soriano was easily one of the best trades this season. For a player that apparently can’t play the outfield or can’t run, he seemed to have done all of that and probably made the scouts look a bit foolish. He even inadvertently made Brian Cashman look foolish by saying he didn’t want to trade a minor league prospect for him. Still, good for Soriano and can’t wait to see him in a full year in pinstripes.
Joe Girardi: How can you not look at what Joe Girardi has done with this team. This team was not supposed to even be in playoff contention with the lineup they had, yet Girardi found a way to at least make them an over .500 team. Sure they were out of it by the last week of the season, but Girardi deserves “Manager of the Year” considerations.
Brett Gardner: Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi are probably Brett Gardner’s biggest fans in the front office, and he did not disappoint them this season. He set career highs in RBI’s, home runs, doubles and triples. He was beginning to heat up again until an oblique injury sidelined him for the last two weeks of the season. Overall, Gardner had a very good year.
David Robertson: Overall, Robertson had another great year, however he faltered towards the end of the season and was one of the many pitchers in the bullpen that imploded in games that really, really mattered.
Andy Pettitte: Although Pettitte retired after the season ended, he looked like he could have pitched another two-three years. Although Pettitte got off to a rocky start, the month of September has been all about Dandy-Andy. It’s a shame he had to retire, but at least Pettitte knows that he still has it in him to pitch.
Hiroki Kuroda: If you took out the last six weeks of the season, Kuroda would have easily gotten an A. However, I have to count the entire year. I’m not sure if it was fatigue or age, but Kuroda really faltered in September after having such a great year. Yankees could of had a chance for the postseason if he had pitched well. We don’t know what’s going to become of Kuroda in the future, but it was nice having him around for the last two years.
Ivan Nova: Ivan Nova looked to be a lost cause the first half of the season. He was so lost that he had to go to Triple-A. He came back with a vengeance, even winning the Pitcher of the Month award in August. Nova has the stuff to be an ace of a staff, and he showed he has dominance when every pitch is working for him.
Boone Logan: Overall, Logan had a great year for the Yankees, but like everyone else in the bullpen he let leads slip away. Unlike the others though, Logan was actually hurt. He had a bone spur in his elbow which he’s taking care of this offseason.
Adam Warren: As the long-man, Warren had a great year for the Yankees. He might actually have a chance to compete for a starting role in 2014, if the Yankees don’t sign anyone for the rotation during the offseason.
David Phelps: Before Ivan Nova developed his pitches, David Phelps had taken Nova’s spot in the rotation, and he did a great job–before he was injured. Since coming back, Phelps has done well, but he was a little rusty which was understandable. Phelps has to potential to be a starter and also has a chance to be in the rotation next season.
Lyle Overbay: Let’s start by saying, Lyle Overbay is not Mark Teixeira. However, although he’s not Teixeira, he has done a great job filling the gap at first base while Texeira was out with injuries. He also wasn’t bad with the bat, having the second most RBI’s on the Yankees, behind Robinson Cano.
Alex Rodriguez: Putting all feelings aside for A-Rod, he actually did better than I thought he would do, especially after being out battling hip injuries. Of course, he did poorly towards the end of the season as he couldn’t buy a hit. We’re not done with A-Rod however, since A-Rod has drama that could last all through the offseason.
Shawn Kelley: Shawn Kelley was an absolute strikeout machine throughout the season, however towards the end of the season he fatigued, started giving up runs and didn’t look the same as he did in the beginning of the season. His first year in Yankees pinstripes was impressive, and I would re-sign him.
Preston Claiborne: Preston Claiborne did have his moments on the Yankees, but overall he was an OK pitcher. He wasn’t exactly jaw dropping the entire year, but hey…he’s better than some of the other pitchers in the bullpen.
Curtis Granderson: He’s not getting an average grade because of the injuries (the injuries weren’t his fault). It’s pretty much because the hits he had just weren’t exactly–memorable. Granderson just blended in with everyone else, which caused Girardi to put Soriano in the OF and Granderson the DH. Granderson was a great sport about it, so good for him!
Austin Romine: Austin Romine became one of my favorite Yankees this season. He did struggle mightily when he first joined the team, but he worked so hard with Kevin Long and eventually he started to hit. He still isn’t ready to be a starter, but I could see him as a backup next season.
Chris Stewart: Chris Stewart didn’t have a terrible year as everyone is pointing out. He wasn’t exactly A+ worthy either. The fact that Stewart had a lot of passed balls and wild pitches overshadowed he caught runners on base and the way he called pitches. He also was great at framing pitches, sometimes fooling the umpires into thinking the pitches were strikes.
Jayson Nix: For a utility player, Nix did an okay job but the problem was he was used more than he was supposed to be used. Nix replaced injured players until he was injured himself. He gets bonus points for managing yesterday’s game. He could be a manager in the future.
Mark Reynolds: Mark Reynolds either hits homers or he strikes out. But his home runs are memorable because of how far they go–also the last home run he hit in the 2013 season was the most memorable because he literally went home afterwards.
Eduardo Nunez: Nunez’s defense has improved (when he’s playing 3B), but his offense wasn’t there until the end of the season. At least we know the bat was there towards the end–it would have been nice if it was in games that mattered.
Brian Cashman: Brian Cashman made trades that just didn’t work. Vernon Wells only worked in April, then Wells didn’t help the rest of the way. Travis Hafner also only hit in April, stopped hitting, then got injured. Kevin Youkilis, he hit a bit…then got injured. The only trade that did work was Alfonso Soriano, but Cashman even complained about the Soriano trade, not wanting to give up Corey Black for him. The minor leagues are in shambles, and there’s no one that major league ready to come up. If it wasn’t for the Soriano trade, then he’d have a much lower grade.
Ichiro Suzuki: As a person, Ichiro seems really awesome, he’s hilarious and I like him. Now that we’ve cleared that out of the way, I have to grade Ichiro on his numbers. Sure, Ichiro had about the same numbers as Gardner, but there was once a time that Ichiro was able to hit .300 consistently each year. He hasn’t been able to do that lately. He’s regressed and he’s at least a fourth outfielder on the Yankees. Notice Girardi barely touched Ichiro going down the September stretch.
Vernon Wells: He hit in April and finally just stopped hitting. His defense was so-so, but his bat looked like he was asleep most of the time.
Travis Hafner: Another one that started hitting but then stopped hitting. Also, Hafner was battling injures and didn’t make an appearance from July to the last game of the season. He was a DH that couldn’t hit…and didn’t own a glove.
CC Sabathia: Let’s put this as nicely as we can: Sabathia was not an ace this season. Not sure if it had to do with his velocity, or if it had to do with the recent weight loss, but Sabathia pitching well or pitching poorly could have made a huge difference in the Wild Card race.
Joba Chamberlain: From a promising pitcher in 2007 to a failed mop-up man (I say failed because he can’t even mop-up when the Yankees have the lead correctly). It’s safe to say Joba will not be back next season, and honestly I don’t think he’d really be missed in the Yankees bullpen.
Phil Hughes: I have to feel a bit bad for Phil Hughes. He was a dominant bullpen pitcher in 2009 and looked as if he had a promising career–until he was transformed into a starter. Hughes being a starting pitcher–a fly-ball starting pitcher at Yankee Stadium is not the best thing for his career, and he proved it again this season.
Derek Jeter: Derek Jeter never really had a chance to get his season started. He got injured, came back, got injured, came back, then got injured again before the Yankees realized that he wasn’t going to contribute in 2013. I do have to admit, the first-pitch home run when he came back the second time felt like it was a Hollywood script–until he got injured again.
Mark Teixeira: Mark Teixeira had an off-year as well, due to the injury in his wrist. He injured his wrist during the World Baseball Classic, felt fine after a stint on the DL, had a 15-game cameo, then got injured again. It was a frustrating year for Teixeira, but good news is, he should be ready to go by Spring Training. You’d have to wonder if Teixeira was a game-changer if he were healthy.