The New York Yankees are full of players that will have big seasons, they always do. Robinson Cano, Mariano Rivera and CC Sabathia will be their usual selves, but how about the disappointments? How about the players who we have hope in that just do not live up to hype?
This could be in the form of a prospect who is called up but struggles, an overpaid free-agent acquisition or just a player who has an off year.
Nobody really expects much from AJ Burnett but every year we hear how he has changed his mindset, worked with the pitching coaches and improved his mechanics, and every year we expect him to improve and at least be a serviceable starter. That has yet to happen.
Burnett ended 2011 with a bang. He pitched very well in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Detroit Tigers by going 5.2 innings, allowing four hits and only one run. It could have been much worse. He walked four batters and if it wasn't for Granderson's two incredible catches, the Tigers could have won.
This is the type of fool's gold AJ Burnett gives us every once and a while; he does just enough to give us hope that eventually he will turn it around. He never does. He still racks up the strikeouts and shows his impressive stuff, but he struggles with his control and cannot stay focused on the mound.
AJ Burnett will be battling for the fifth spot in the Yankees' rotation and while I expect him to have a good spring training, I think we will be in for yet another 5.00-plus ERA in 2012.
How far has Phil Hughes fallen? He was once the prize of the Yankees' farm system and a top five prospect in all of baseball. The former 18-game winner is stuck between the rotation and bullpen, not to mention being implicated in trade rumors.
Just like AJ Burnett, he will be battling out for the fifth spot in the rotation and the loser is traded or headed to the bullpen. Either way I do not expect much from Phil Hughes; as a fifth starter I could see him with an ERA in the mid-4.00 with about 11 wins, but that is about it. As a relief pitcher he could be a long reliever with an ERA in the mid-to-upper 3.00.
If the implicated deal for Billy Butler really is being discussed by the Yankees and Royals, I would pull the trigger in a heartbeat because Hughes' once bright future is no more.
Freddy Garcia is the final contestant for the Yankees' fifth and final rotation spot. This is not a good sign when the only three possibilities for a rotation spot will disappoint in 2012, but I believe Garcia will disappoint the least.
The 35-year-old righty posted a 3.62 ERA with the Yankees' in 2011, including a 3.13 ERA before the All-Star break. He obviously tired out as the season wore on, but if he can replicate his 2011 season in 2012 I would be happy.
I doubt he will, but an ERA hovering around 3.80 to 3.90 is not out of the question, and for a fifth starter it is not that bad. If he can give the Yankees that kind of production to go along with about 170 innings, he will be a success.
He may do just that, but do not expect another season with an ERA in the mid-3.00 from Freddy Garcia, it just won't happen.
Mark Teixeira has seen his batting average and OPS drop for four straight years. That is not good. The power is still there, he hit 39 home runs in 2011, but batted .248 and struck out 110 times. That's just embarrassing.
Teixeira may very well be in contention for an AL Gold Glove and may hit 40 home runs in 2012, but as long as he hits below .250 he will be a failure.
What would I do if I was Teixeira? Stop switch-hitting so much. Look at his splits and you will see what I am saying.
LHB: .224/.325/.453, .778 OPS, 24 HR, 69 RBI, 85 K, 54 BB in 397 AB
RHB: .297/.373/.578, .951 OPS, 15 HR, 42 RBI, 25 K, 22 BB in 192 AB
Teixeira is just a much better hitter when he bats right-handed. If he has 600 ABs in 2012 and he bats right-handed all year, this will be his final stat line if he keeps up his 2011 pace:
.297/.373/.578, .951 OPS, 47 HR, 131 RBI, 78 K, 69 BB
Those stats would have put him at first in the majors in home runs and RBI, third in SLG, fifth in OPS, 14th in OBP, 18th lowest in strikeouts and 18th in walks.
Why must you bat left-handed, Mark Teixeira? It makes no sense.
Mark Teixeira will still switch-hit in 2012 and after you see those stats above, you will always ask yourself what could have been if he batted righty.
Curtis Granderson will not be as big of a disappointment as everybody else on this list, but he will fall down to earth a little bit.
Granderson will likely not hit 41 home runs or lead the AL in both RBI and runs scored, but he will still be a lock for 35 home runs, over 100 RBI and 100 runs scored.
He could very well replicate his magical 2011 season, it would not surprise me at all, but I doubt he will.
I actually predict a higher batting average from Granderson, but he will have to sacrifice some of his power to do it. That will be tough because of his perfectly-suited left-handed pull swing for Yankee Stadium, but I expect more line drives and gap shots and as a result, less home runs.