In a season of highs and lows, the Yankees did see the exiting of two talented pitchers from the game.
Entering into the 2013 season there were a number of questions surrounding the Yankees. Among them was the pressing question was whether of not the 2013 Yankees would be a competitive team, especially in a difficult American League East. Additions were made to the roster by adding players such as Kevin Youkilis, Vernon Wells, and Travis Hafner. The purpose was to fill a number of spots in the field and in the line up. Spots that needed to be filled due to injuries or other factors beyond the field of play. It was that the Yankees assembled a myriad of players that were either past their prime or could not get it going. This led to a good start to the season, then a decline the rest of the way.
The Bronx Bombers finished the year with a record of 85-77, tied for third with the Baltimore Orioles and twelve games back of the Boston Red Sox, who won the division. Despite this, the team did see the end of the career of two pitchers, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera, both finished the season and their careers on high notes.
Despite being a season of highs and lows, there were a number of bright spots on the Yankees this year, even with injuries. The most prominent bright spot was that of Robinson Cano, who led the team in all offensive categories, including be the only everyday player to finish the season with a batting average over .300 (.314), and was a main source of ignition for the Yankees offense this season.
Before getting injured, Brett Gardner was also putting together a nice season, adding a little extra to the lineup as well. He was missed after he was put on the disabled list. His absence was big, but was soon picked up following the end of the trade deadline.
The trade to bring Alfonso Soriano back to the Yankees from the Cubs gave some pop back in the lineup. While playing in 58 games and hitting 17 home runs over the course of those games, he give some relief to the lineup.
In terms of pitching, the bullpen was on point prior to a sea of injuries, but was still serviceable even with injuries to those in the pen. In his last season, Mariano Rivera put together a fantastic final season, ending with 44 saves and a 2.11 ERA on the season. His setup man David Robertson, was equally fantastic as well. At times walking a tight rope on the mound, but Robinson was able to evade trouble most of the time.
Meanwhile with starting pitching, the bright spot, was the return of Ivan Nova from the minors. He returned as a retooled pitcher that looked more comfortable on the mound than before. In the month of August , Nova was really the go-to pitcher for the Yankees. C.C. Sabathia lead the team in wins (14), and Hiroki Kuroda led all starters in ERA (3.31), but Nova was the bright spot in the rotation. Andy Pettitte, finishing the season with a .500 win-loss record, ended it with a complete game shutout in Houston and a career without a losing season. It was a the perfect way to end a career and a season.
There is much to say about what went wrong in 2013 for the Yankees, but the most prominent were the injuries and the lack of production at times. The injuries were unsustainable for the Yankees to succeed in the American League East race or in the Wild Card race, despite being in the thick of it. It was just unbearable shows in the ranking for pitching and offense, with the Yankees being either middle of the road or near the bottom in terms of team stat categories.
It was also that due to the injuries, the lack of minor league depth to fill roster spots became apparent. It looked as if the team would have to drudge along with aging and injured players while also trying to get them to comeback early to the team. In particular with Derek Jeter, whose ankle was not as ready for game play, as it was initially assumed to be. There is also Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson who had long spells on the disabled list.
Other areas that were bad, were the performances of Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, both of whom seemingly lost their ability to pitch in different ways. For Hughes, it was his tendency to give up the long ball, but also his inability to have a strong start as well. Despite Sabathia and Kuroda having some success, they had issues as well, with Kuroda being a no show in the second half of the season, and Sabathia having trouble pitching at times, and not coming up big in games at times.
There was also the off the field issues which distracted the team a bit. There were suspensions to Francisco Cervelli and Alex Rodriguez, who played despite the suspension in relation to the Biogenesis scandal. In particular, the antics or actions of Alex Rodriguez, however they are perceived, was an albatross for the team. That was just part of the fold in what was a more or less a forgettable season for the Yankees, finishing tied for third place with Baltimore, but twelve games back of Boston.
Outlook for 2014
The Yankees need to get younger and deeper if they want to be competitive. As of now, they are looking into the abyss of possibly being a middle of the road team. They also may need to spend more than the $189 million threshold outlined by the Steinbrenners due to the fact that there is still the issue of addressing contracts such as that of Alex Rodriguez’s. He may or may not be a factor this season for the team, depending on his suspension.
The Yankees need to start rebuilding. It shouldn’t be about making the postseason in 2014, but just have a base of consistency. That was their in the past, but the pressure will be making the playoffs in 2014 and having the team to get there. That center around spending and re-signing key players, in particular Robinson Cano. His asking price may be too high for the Yankees, and they have needs in almost every area of the field. They did just sign Brian McCann at catcher, which will provide a necessary boost at and behind the plate, but they need more than that.
In particular two starters, a reliever or two, and someone in the infield. There have been reports of interest in Scott Kazmir, and of course the big one being the pursuit of signing Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who had an impressive season in the Nippon Professional Baseball League. Meanwhile for those currently on the team, the goal is to improve and get healthy. In particular, Derek Jeter to be serviceable again, and for C.C. Sabathia to learn how to retool the way he pitches.
2014 is going to feel like a new pair of shoes for the Yankees, and it is going to be interesting to watch the moves that they make this off season. There will be pressure for them to perform well, but it will be a “wait and see”, to see what happens on the field in this coming season.
Special thanks to Jason Evans, editor of Yanks Go Yard, for helping out with the information in this review.