Saturday, February 2, 2013

Buster Olney's Keys To The Yankees' Season Are Accurate, Surprisingly Predictable

I'm a Buster Olney fan.  I think he's one of the best baseball reporters in the business, if not the best, and take his information and thoughts on the Yankees more seriously than probably any other beat writer or MSM reporter.  That's why I was a little surprised to find that Olney's "What Yankees need to go right in '13" Friday morning blog post (Insider Only) was so ordinary.  It's not that anything he said was wrong or untrue, it's just that a lot of it seemed so obvious and so basic that it didn't feel like a true Yankee-centric post to me.   Have the Yankees really become this boring this offseason?

1. CC Sabathia needs to be healthy enough to provide a lot of innings -- and be good in those innings.

Well yeah.  He's the unquestioned ace of the staff.  What team doesn't need their ace to be good?

2. Derek Jeter needs to be a good player, at age 38.

Of course he does.  He's the leadoff hitter, he's making a decent chunk of change, he's the only veteran in the lineup who didn't decline last season, and there isn't much in the way of a viable backup behind him.

3. Mariano Rivera needs to be an effective closer.

Again, not exactly breaking new ground here.  Any team that wants to contend needs a strong closer.

4. Robinson Cano needs to have an MVP-caliber season.

He's the best player on the team, he's in the prime of his career entering a contract year, and he's had them before.  Is there any reason to think he's not going to have another one this season?

5. Mark Teixeira needs to be an above-average run producer.

They aren't paying him $20 million a season to appear in "Rock Of Ages."

6. Brett Gardner needs to get back to what he was in 2010.

This one is actually pretty important and not as obvious as the others.  With the expected hit to the overall offensive production of the team, the Yankees need Gardner to be more than just a Gold Glove defender.  If he can  hit for a good average and get on base at a .360-.380 clip, he could give Joe a chance to lengthen the lineup a bit by hitting him first and Jeter second.

7. Kevin Youkilis needs to contribute.


8. Michael Pineda needs to give them something -- not a lot, but something.

This is the only one I really take umbrage with.  I don't think the Yankees necessarily NEED Pineda to give them something this year, as long as the rest of the healthy pitchers, Warren and Marshall included, stay  healthy and stay productive.  But with the age of the top of the rotation, and the injury risks that come with it, it would be nice to know that Pineda was going to be available if needed.  If for no other reason than to see if he still has potential long-term value to the club.

But you see what I mean, right?  Doesn't that just seem like a really basic, cookie-cutter list of "needs" that could apply to every other team in baseball?  Every team needs its best pitchers to pitch well and its best players to play well, and maybe it's just me, but I could have sworn that in recent years past the Yankees' list of needs was a little more off the beaten path.  Like figuring out where C-Grand best fit into the batting order, or which young pitcher was going to take the next step.  Maybe it's a sign that the Yankees really are in for a down year, at least by their traditional standards.  It wouldn't be unexpected or the worst thing in the world if that did happen, but if it does I hope things aren't always this boring.

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