Spring training is under way and everybody wants to know how the New York Yankees will fare in 2012.
Some players will regress, some will improve and some will come out of nowhere and become key ingredients in the Yankees' attempt to win World Series title No. 28.
Which players will regress and which will continue to climb?
Let's take a look at all the major Yankees and predict their final 2012 stats.
2012 Stat Prediction: .241/.331/.411, 19 HR, 70 RBI, 11 SB
Russell Martin was considered one of the best young catchers in the majors in 2007 after he hit .293 with 19 home runs and 80 RBI. But he has fallen off in recent years.
In 2011, Martin's average fell to .237, but he maintained his power numbers, slugging 18 home runs. He still plays very good defense, but his batting average makes him an average offensive catcher at best.
At only 28 years old, 29 on Opening Day, Martin does have room to improve. But if you ask me, I do not think he will improve much at all.
2012 Stat Prediction: .272/.358/.522, 37 HR, 107 RBI, 3 SB
Mark Teixeira's batting average has dropped from .308 in 2008 to .248 in 2011. That is unacceptable. I think his problem is that he is trying to pull every pitch out of the park. I think this can be fixed by him becoming a predominantly right-handed batter instead of constantly switching, but let's see what the stats say.
LH: .224/.325/.453, .778 OPS, 24 HR, 69 RBI in 397 At-Bats
RH: .297/.373/.578, .951 OPS, 15 HR, 42 RBI in 192 At-Bats
I understand what Teixeira is trying to do. He wants an advantage against pitchers. But when is he going to realize that this "advantage" is actually a disadvantage? Not only is his batting average .073 higher when batting right-handed, but he also has a higher slugging percentage.
You may say that the reason he does this is because he has more power when batting left-handed, as shown by his higher home run totals. But his number of at-bats is what makes it look that way. When Teixeira bats left-handed, he hits a home run once every 16.5 at-bats. But when he hits right-handed, he hits a home run one every 12.8 at-bats.
Not only does he hit for a higher average as a righty, but he also hits for more power. Mark, if for some reason you are reading this, please bat more as a righty in 2012. If you do, your numbers will drastically improve.
Even if he continues to be a switch-hitter, his batting average will rise because of his .239 BABIP, which was the third lowest in the majors in 2011.
2012 Stat Prediction: .325/.401/.602, 37 HR, 133 RBI, 51 2B, 7 3B, 7 SB
Robinson Cano is among the most feared batters in the majors, and at 29 years old, he is just hitting his prime.
It may be tough to believe, but Cano had an off year in 2011. In 2009 and 2010, he had a .320 batting average, compared to .302 in 2011. Cano has hit just under 30 home runs for two straight seasons, and the added protection that comes with moving from fifth to third in the lineup will give him more hittable pitches, namely fastballs, to hit into the stands.
Cano went on an absolute tear in the postseason against the Detroit Tigers, hitting .318/.375/.682 with two home runs, including a grand slam and nine RBI. If he can carry that success over to 2012, watch out. He will be a legitimate MVP candidate.
2012 Stat Prediction: .290/.398/.539, 35 HR, 125 RBI, 11 SB
This projection is assuming Alex Rodriguez stays healthy for the entire season.
Rodriguez is by far the most difficult player to predict. Before last season, he had hit 30 home runs and driven in 100 runs for 13 straight seasons.
Health is a big issue. He played 99 games in 2011 due to knee surgery and only averaged 133 games per season from 2007 to 2009. Still, he averaged 32 home runs and 109 RBI during that stretch.
If he can stay relatively healthy, even if he has to DH 30 to 40 games, he should be offensively productive.
When you get meniscus surgery, you expect your lateral quickness to be hurt, but that has not been the case with A-Rod. I am not a big fan of sabermetrics, especially UZR. But it is hard to ignore his 20.2 UZR/150. That was the best among third basemen in 2011 and second to only Brett Gardner among all positions. That is incredible for a 36-year-old with a surgically-repaired knee. Let's just hope he can repeat this defensive prowess in 2012.
At the referral of Kobe Bryant, Rodriguez went to Germany to have experimental knee surgery. So far, Bryant looks very good. We can only hope Rodriguez responds to the surgery in the same way.
2012 Stat Prediction: .284/.334/.372, 7 HR, 64 RBI, 14 SB
Derek Jeter had a comeback year in 2011, hitting .297, including .327 after the All-Star break. But he is 37 years old, so he will not be able to keep this up for long.
Jeter always has been a very patient and fundamentally-sound batter, so his performance should not drop off as much as a normal 37-year-old's would. But 2012 will be the year that he shows his age at the plate. Jeter still will be a capable leadoff hitter, but expect Brett Gardner to lead off against right-handers.
Jeter also will get his fair share of games at DH and days off, but he still should play about 145 games, at least 130 of those at shortstop.
2012 Stat Prediction: .264/.352/.369, 6 HR, 40 RBI, 51 SB
Brett Gardner has never been known as a great batter, but he draws a ton of walks, is a one-man wrecking crew on the basepaths and plays some of the best defense in the majors.
Over the last two seasons, Gardner has averaged 48 stolen bases, and at 28 years old, he is nearing the end of his 40-plus stolen-base years. But Gardner is not just fast; he is a very intelligent baserunner, so he should be able to slow his decline in stolen bases.
Gardner will get some time at leadoff against right-handed pitchers, but he will bat ninth in most games. That is not a bad thing. The top of the Yankees order is full of sluggers who can easily bring home the speedy Gardner.
2012 Stat Prediction: .275/.376/.534, 38 HR, 108 RBI, 22 SB
Curtis Granderson had a huge year in 2011. He showed incredible power, but his batting average suffered due to a high fly-ball percentage and a high number of strikeouts.
Granderson is a career .302 hitter, so he is capable of hitting for average. If he works with Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, he should be able to refine his swing in order to hit more line drives. Granderson will hit fewer home runs, but if he can raise his average, it will be worth it.
Granderson should be in for another big season in 2012, but do not expect 40 home runs.
2012 Stat Prediction: .266/.374/.482, 27 HR, 85 RBI, 2 SB
Nick Swisher has never been a great player, but over the last three seasons, he has averaged .267 with 27 home runs and 85 RBI. He is not great, but he is a consistently good player.
Swisher is a switch-hitter like Mark Teixeira, and like him, for some reason, he chooses to hit left-handed when he is a much better batter right-handed.
I know switching is supposed to help a batter match up better against pitchers, but come on; when does it stop being an advantage when you are much better right-handed than left-handed? At what point should you just choose to hit right-handed because you are better that way?
LH: .232/.343/.420, .763 OPS, 17 HR, 64 RBI in 367 At-Bats
RH: .327/.442/.516, .958 OPS, 6 HR, 21 RBI in 159 At-Bats
Just like with Teixeira, it looks like Swisher has much more power when batting left-handed than right-handed, but that is not true. Swisher hits a home run every 21.6 at-bats when batting left-handed and every 26.5 at-bats when batting right-handed.
He does have more power when batting lefty, but he has a higher average (by .105) and a higher slugging percentage (by .096) when batting right-handed. Swisher is a better batter when batting right-handed. He should stop switching.
2012 Stat Prediction: .260/.325/.440, 16 HR, 52 RBI, 1 SB
The signed Raul Ibanez this offseason to become their DH after they shipped Jesus Montero to Seattle for Michael Pineda.
Ibanez will not play 162 games this season because he will share the DH spot with Andruw Jones and aging stars such as Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.
Ibanez will likely play in about 80 games. That will be enough for him to show that he was well worth the money and will be a great asset for the Yankees in the postseason.
2012 Stat Prediction: .250/.350/.490, 20 HR, 60 RBI, 0 SB
Andruw Jones is the Yankees' other main DH, but unlike Ibanez, he can play in the outfield if necessary.
Jones will spell Gardner, Granderson and Swisher in the outfield and will platoon at DH with Ibanez when an everyday player is not resting by DHing.
That means Jones will likely play about 90 games.
We all know Jones still has power. He hit 13 home runs in only 190 at-bats in 2011, and he can get on base. He had a .356 OBP in 2011, but Jones strikes out quite a bit and fails to hit for contact.
Nonetheless, Jones will have another solid year.
2012 Stat Prediction: .278/.353/.400, 8 HR, 45 RBI, 5 SB
Francisco Cervelli is mostly known for two things: his enthusiasm for the game and concussions.
If Cervelli can bounce back from his concussion-plagued 2011 season, he should be back to form in 2012.
Cervelli is mostly a catcher, but he is versatile. He played second and third base for the Yankees in 2011. This defensive versatility is a great option for Joe Girardi. But with the return of Eric Chavez and Eduardo Nunez, it is likely to be utilized very often.
All signs point toward Cervelli being a good backup catcher behind Russell Martin in 2012.
2012 Stat Prediction: .255/.320/.380, 3 HR, 18 RBI, 0 SB
Austin Romine got a glimpse of the majors in late 2011 but struggled at the plate. He is very good behind the plate and has Gold Glove potential, but don't expect him to be much of an offensive threat.
Romine probably will have a batting average at about .260 and will hit about 15 home runs, but his real value will be as a defensive catcher.
Unfortunately for Romine, barring an injury or an impressive showing in spring training, he will likely be sitting behind both Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli in 2012.
Romine may not get much playing time in 2012, but he has a bright future.
2012 Stat Prediction: .270/.325/.390, 6 HR, 35 RBI, 18 SB
Eduardo Nunez can play in the outfield, second base, third base and shortstop. This versatility is very valuable, too bad he committed 20 errors in 2011.
Nunez was praised for his defense in the minors, Baseball America even called him the best defensive infielder in the minors in 2011. If Nunez can regain his defensive prowess, he will be the most important bench player for the Yankees in 2012. He already has established his credentials as a hitter and his speed on the basepaths.
2012 Stat Prediction: .260/.315/.350, 3 HR, 30 RBI
Eric Chavez is a savvy veteran who can fill in at third base on days Alex Rodriguez gets off or DHs.
Chavez will likely get very limited playing time in 2012 due to the emergence of Eduardo Nunez, but when he does play he will be serviceable.
Most of his value will be due to his veteran presence, both on and off the field. He will be a great mentor for younger Yankee infielders.
2012 Stat Prediction: 237 IP, 22-7, 2.82 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 233 K, 59 BB
CC Sabathia had a 2.55 ERA before Joe Girardi instituted his six-man rotation in early August.
A pitcher's rhythm is everything. If you have him pitch every six days instead of every five days, it messes with his routine, and he becomes a less effective pitcher.
Will he post a 2.55 ERA in 2012? No, especially since he pitches in the toughest division in baseball in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the majors.
Sabathia has only gotten better as a Yankee. Since 2009 his strikeout rate has gone up by a full strikeout per nine innings, his walk rate has gone down by 0.3 per nine innings, his ERA has dropped by 0.37, his FIP has dropped by 0.51 and his xFIP has dropped by 0.75.
If Sabathia keeps improving at this rate, he may earn win his second AL Cy Young award.
For all of you sabermetric lovers, Sabathia posted the highest WAR in the AL (7.1), second-lowest FIP in the AL (2.88) and lowest xFIP in the AL (3.02). He even had a .318 BABIP—seventh-highest in the majors—which means he was a very unlucky pitcher. The workhorse should be in for another dominant season.
Sabathia is reportedly repeating his conditioning workout from last offseason that helped him lose 30 pounds. If he can keep that weight off during the season, he should be able to pitch more effectively late into games and later into the season.
All of this will lead to a much better Sabathia in 2012.
2012 Stat Prediction: 188 IP, 18-7, 3.36 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 121 K, 59 BB
Ivan Nova had an incredible 2011 season, finishing with a 16-4 record and 3.70 ERA. With another season in the majors, one in which he won't be sent down to Triple-A for most of July, he should have an even better season in 2012.
Nova settled down once he got used to the majors, going 8-0 with a 3.09 ERA after July 1. Do I expect an ERA just above 3.00 and an undefeated record from Nova in 2012? No, he received strong run support last season and was hot down the stretch.
Does that mean I do not think he will improve? Not at all.
For every Jason Heyward and the sophomore slump, there are many more players who improve in their second season. Another year of experience will help him greatly.
Nova also had a great postseason. In his first postseason start, he threw 6.1 shutout innings before Luis Ayala let two runners score. In his second start, Nova had a rough two innings stint before being pulled due to forearm stiffness.
You may say that repeating his low ERA is unreasonable because of Yankee Stadium's small dimensions. But his 52.7 percent ground-ball rate—good for 12th in the majors—will keep the Yankee Stadium effect to a minimum.
If he can remain unpredictable to hitters that have now seen him multiple times, he should improve and have a better 2012 season.
2012 Stat Prediction: 182 IP, 17-7, 3.28 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 202 K, 60 BB
The Yankees gave up their most prized prospect—Jesus Montero—for Michael Pineda. So they must see him doing great things.
Most of the questions about Pineda are about how he will adjust to Yankee Stadium, the pressure of New York and the transition to the AL East. Unfortunately, we will not see those questions answered just yet. But those will be issues to look at in April.
So far, Pineda's spring training has been up and down. He entered camp 20 pounds heavier than his 2011 listed weight of 260 pounds. CC Sabathia had a similar problem when he reported to spring training last offseason, but he got back into shape.
On the bright side, Pineda has found an elusive third pitch: a changeup.
Here are Pineda's thoughts according to the New York Daily News. “I’m working hard on my changeup,” he said. “I know I’ve gotta command it. It’s my third pitch, but I need it. It’s getting better.”
Only time will tell if Pineda will develop into an ace. But any pitcher who has good command of three pitches, can reach 100 mph and has a devastating slider has a very good chance of succeeding in the majors.
2012 Stat Prediction: 185 IP, 15-9, 3.48 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 156 K, 45 BB
Hiroki Kuroda's 3.07 ERA in 2011 was impressive to say the least, but can he repeat his success, moving from cavernous Dodger Stadium to small Yankee Stadium? How about his move from the offensively inept NL West with no DH to an offensive juggernaut in the AL East with a DH?
It will be a difficult move for the 36-year-old.
He did post a 3.06 ERA in 17.2 innings against AL teams in 2011, but that is a small sample size, and he did not pitch against the AL East. In 2010 he did pitch a seven-inning, six hit, two-run game against the Red Sox, but that is the extent of his experience against the entire division.
While I do not expect an ERA in the low-3.00s, I do expect an ERA in the mid-3.00s. He will prove to be a steal for the one-year, $10 million deal Brian Cashman gave him.
Kuroda will give the Yankees about 200 innings and win multiple postseason games in 2012.
2012 Stat Prediction: 135 IP, 9-8, 4.12 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 123 K, 42 BB
Phil Hughes will be given another chance in the Yankee rotation in 2012.
Hughes won 18 games in 2010, but his 4.19 ERA was far from impressive. He also had a "dead arm" and lost velocity as 2011 wore on. Those two bad signs will cause Girardi to have a short leash with Hughes, who could be sent back to the bullpen if he shows he cannot handle more than two to three innings at a time.
Hughes will likely win the fifth and final rotation spot out of spring training, but do not expect him to keep that job all season.
2012 Stat Prediction: 85 IP, 7-4, 3.70 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 50 K, 21 BB
Just because Freddy Garcia will start the season in the bullpen does not mean he will be there all season.
No team goes through an entire season without using at least six starting pitchers. The Yankees in 2012 will be no different.
Garcia will start the season in the long-relief role, but as Hughes tires out he will move into the rotation. This move will be good for Garcia because he has never pitched out of the bullpen and will be fresh when he does move back to the starting rotation.
Garcia obviously tired out as the 2011 season progressed. He had a 7.36 ERA in September, and his velocity dropped by about two mph.
Expect Garcia to have another good, but not great season for the Yankees in 2012.
2012 Stat Prediction: 43 IP, 2.85 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 55 K, 15 BB
New York Yankee fans, I want to introduce you to your new No. 1 left-handed specialist: Cesar Cabral.
You may not have heard of Cabral, but the Yankees traded up in the Rule V Draft and gave him a 25-man roster spot.
Why would the Red Sox leave Cabral eligible for the Rule V Draft if he is so good? Their 40-man roster was full, but they could have cleared a space for Cabral. Whatever the reason, the Yankees took advantage of a mistake and grabbed a valuable prospect from their hated rival.
Cabral is a 22-year-old lefty from the Dominican Republic. He had a very good 2011 season. In High-A and Double-A, he posted a 2.95 ERA and an 11.5 K/9 in 55 innings pitched.
The Yankees have another very good Rule V Draft selection on their roster: Ivan Nova. Am I saying he will be that good? No, but Cabral has a good chance of being an impact arm in the Yankees' bullpen in 2012.
SoxProspects.com gives him high praise by saying this about him:
Lefty with a solid frame and a smooth delivery. Pitches exclusively from the stretch. Fastball sits between 88-92 mph and tops out at 95 mph. Secondary pitches include an excellent 81-83 mph circle changeup, a mid-70s slurvey curveball, and a sharp 79-82 mph slider. Gets a lot of swings and misses with his changeup, which has nice downward movement. Excellent command and control, attacks hitters.
That sounds like a pitcher I would want if I was Joe Girardi. He will not challenge Rafael Soriano for the seventh-inning job, but he could become a Joba Chamberlain-type pitcher while Chamberlain is out until at least the All-Star break due to Tommy John surgery.
2012 Stat Prediction: 35 IP, 3.28 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 41 K, 11 BB
Boone Logan, the Yankees left-handed specialist in 2011, struggled against lefties. That is why they went out and grabbed Cesar Cabral in the Rule V Draft.
Logan is still an effective pitcher, but his workload will drop due to the addition of another lefty in the Yankee bullpen.
He will have to work on keeping runners of the bases in 2012, but he is still a good bullpen arm who will show value throughout the year.
2012 Stat Prediction: 33 IP, 2.86 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 30 K, 6 BB
Cory Wade was a nice pick-up for the Yankees in mid-2011. He pitched very well despite his low number of innings.
Wade will get a more prominent role in 2012 due to his 2011 performance. But the Yankees have so many good bullpen arms, it will be tough to distribute the innings each pitcher deserves.
The Yankees bullpen is just too good and deep to give every pitcher the innings their numbers show they should get.
2012 Stat Prediction: 30 IP, 3.62 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 30 K, 13 BB
The Yankees signed David Aardsma to be a veteran presence in their bullpen.
Aardsma missed the entire 2011 season after having Tommy John surgery in 2010.
For the Seattle Mariners in 2009 and 2010, Aardsma posted a 2.90 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 9.6 K/9 and 69 saves in 78 opportunities.
If he can repeat his success in Seattle in New York, Aardsma will be a welcome addition to an already strong Yankee bullpen.
2012 Stat Prediction: 20 IP, 3.21 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 23 K, 7 BB
Joba Chamberlain will be an effective reliever for the Yankees, but his innings will be limited after Tommy John surgery. He is not supposed to pitch until after the All-Star break, so his innings will be down.
When he returns, Chamberlain should be the same pitcher he was before the surgery, if not better. Pitchers usually experience an increase in their velocity after Tommy John surgery because the ulterior cruciate ligament does not just snap, it wears down over time. And while that is happening, velocity is lost.
In his first full season in the majors in 2008, Chamberlain averaged 95.2 mph on his fastball and even touched triple digits. You may not see that as soon as he comes back. But give him a couple months and you will see the Chamberlain of old.
2012 Stat Prediction: 32 IP, 3-1, 2.31 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 38 K, 13 BB
Manny Banuelos showed everybody he was the real deal by posting a 2.20 ERA in spring training 2011. On top of that, future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera called him the best pitching prospect he'd ever seen.
So far this spring, Banuelos has thrown two shutout innings, so things are looking up for the talented lefty.
The 20-year-old was promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season and showed flashes of brilliance, but was inconsistent and had control issues. Banuelos will start the season in Triple-A, but expect him to be in New York when rosters expand in September.
Banuelos used to have excellent control, and his recent control issues stem from his jump in velocity over the last year. He should have his pinpoint control back in no time.
He has three plus pitches—a fastball, slider and changeup—that should propel him to stardom once he reaches the majors.
The Yankees will not make the same mistake they did with Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain. Banuelos will never make the trot from the bullpen to the mound and take the ball from Joe Girardi.
Banuelos will reach the majors as a starter and dominate.
2012 Stat Prediction: 30 IP, 2-2, 3.58 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 35 K, 18 BB
Dellin Betanes got a taste of the majors in late 2011 and did OK. In his first appearance, he was obviously nervous, walking four batters in 0.2 innings. But he settled down in his second appearance, his first start, pitching two shutout innings against the Tampa Bay Rays
Expect Betances to be back in Triple-A to start the season, but he will be back in New York by September when rosters expand. He has a mid-90s fastball, an excellent curve and incredible knuckle-curve, the pure stuff to be a front-line starting pitcher in the near future.
That said, Betances' control will keep him from being an elite starter just yet. But he will be an effective starter for the Yankees in late 2012.
2012 Stat Prediction: 37 IP, 3-3, 3.70 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 31 K, 10 BB
David Phelps does not have electric stuff, but he finds a way to get it done. He has made three straight minor league All-Star appearances and has a very impressive 38-15 career record. Phelps does not have the same ceiling as some of the other Yankees pitching prospects, but he will eventually be a back-end-of-the-rotation pitcher.
Phelps probably will never get into the Yankees' rotation full-time, but a role as a spot starter or middle reliever is not out of the question.
2012 Stat Prediction: 19 IP, 1-2, 4.01 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 17 K, 8 BB
Adam Warren is similar to David Phelps. He does not have dominant stuff and does not have a very high ceiling. Warren did have a 2.59 ERA in Double-A in 2010 and has excellent control. But don't expect him to be much more than a back-end-of-the-rotation pitcher or middle reliever.
Warren is major league-ready, but as of now there is no spot for him in the rotation. If there is an injury, a need for a spot start or an opening in the bullpen, expect the Yankees to promote him to the majors.
2012 Stat Prediction: 45 IP, 31 HLD, 3.11 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 50 K, 16 BB
Was Brian Cashman right, or was he right?
After the Yankees missed out on Cliff Lee, the Steinbrenners went against Cashman's wishes and signed Rafael Soriano to a three-year, $35 million deal. Soriano had a 4.19 ERA in 2011, and missed most of the season due to injury.
Soriano did post a 3.33 ERA after the All-Star break and a 1.93 ERA in the postseason, so there is hope. But he never will live up to his contract, especially at 32 years old.
If Soriano can remain healthy, he should be one of the best—if not the best—seventh-inning man in the majors. He has to be in order to even be close to being worth his $11.7 million price tag. That is closer money, and that is ridiculous for a seventh-inning man.
Bottom line, he may be good, but don't expect the Soriano from 2003 to 2010, when he posted a 2.37 ERA.
2012 Stat Prediction: 63 IP, 39 HLD, 1.32 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 103 K, 29 BB
David Robertson was the best relief pitcher in the majors in 2011. Not only did he post a 1.08 ERA during the season, but he also had a 0.25 ERA on the road and a 0.86 ERA after the All-Star break.
"Houdini" is built for New York. He is cool under pressure and rises to difficult occasions. With the bases loaded, batters went 1-19 (.053 BA), with 14 strikeouts, zero walks and zero runs.
He even got a fifth-place vote for AL Cy Young and AL MVP.
At 26 years old, he is only going to get better.
If Robertson can maintain his torrid pace, not only will he have a great 2011 season, but he also will be the best possible heir for the irreplaceable Mariano Rivera.
2012 Stat Prediction: 55 IP, 47 SV, 1.82 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 60 K, 7 BB
This might well be Mariano Rivera's final season in New York. If the Yankees win their 28th World Series, I expect him to retire. But if they do not, it wouldn't surprise me at all if he returned for another season.
Rivera will finish his career by posting an ERA under 2.00 for the 11th time and a WHIP under 1.00 for the ninth time.
Mo also will save 47 games, conveniently giving him an even 650 for his career and by far the most ever by a closer.
Rivera always will be known as a great postseason closer—he has never posted an ERA above 1.75 in a postseason with more than three innings pitched. He will remain dominant in the 2012 postseason, and I expect him to have another great season in pinstripes.
Rivera will go down as the best closer of all time and the best pitcher of our generation, whether this is his final season or not.