How Can Pineda, Gardner, Pettitte and Rivera Impact the '13 New York Yankees?

Brian BuckleyContributor IISeptember 26, 2012

April 10, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera (42) pitches in the twelfth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Yankees defeated the Orioles 5 - 4 in twelve innings. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

With the Yankees in the middle of a pennant race, most people’s eyes are fixed on the 2012 Yankees.  But, for some of us, the future is too tempting to wait for the offseason.

There’s no doubt that many faces the club planned to see throughout the year barely made an appearance.

Newly acquired Michael Pineda’s season ended before April started, Brett Gardner and Mariano Rivera have appeared in 18 total games this year and Andy Pettitte’s year has been split in two.

So, close your eyes and imagine all of those guys healthy and ready to contribute.  How good can they be in 2013?

Obviously, the knee-jerk answer is very good.  But, in order to find out if it’s a realistic situation let’s take a closer look at all the possible avenues.

The most obvious, no-strings-attached addition would be Brett Gardner.

Throughout the year, the aging flatfooted Yankees have missed his speed dearly.  Acquiring Ichiro has helped strike some fear of god in opposing pitchers, but Gardner’s role in the lineup is beyond important, explaining why he was activated Tuesday after not playing in a game in nearly five months.

Next year’s outfield could be very different for the club.  Ichiro, Jones, Ibanez and Swisher are all free agents after the 2012 season, making a healthy Gardner a vital component.

When it comes to the hurling portion of the “Core Four”, no one really knows what the future holds.  Most bets were on Mariano Rivera retiring at the close of this year as he joked about his swan song all spring training. But, after tearing his ACL in June, it’s hard to imagine his Hall of Fame career ending during batting practice in Kansas City. 

In my opinion, Rivera will be back and better than ever, making his last season truly an amazing thing to watch next year.  I can’t say the same for Andy Pettitte.

Frankly, I’m surprised Pettitte made it back this after shattering his ankle on June 27.  Recovering from a serious injury at his age, he truly proved me wrong.

But I question if he wants to go through the spring training and conditioning knowing what happened this year.  However, if the Yanks can’t make a free agent dent in the pitching pool and Pettitte is still game, then why not?

By far the hardest 2013 prediction to make is for Michael Pineda.  Using the evidence of zero games pitched in 2012 and recovering from Tommy John surgery, what can anyone possibly and reasonably expect?

As of right now, it’s too early to say when Pineda will be actively ready to contribute.  Early reports are that he will not be healthy by opening day next year, but details are scarce.  One has to imagine his eventual contributions will be greatly appreciated, but only time will tell.

Of course, these are all my haphazard predictions that might not come to fruition.  But, if the Yankees can retain most or all of these (sometimes) forgotten faces, then the 2013 campaign looks promising.

  Sporting Sarcasm