Predicting the New York Yankees' Lineup in 2 Years
The New York Yankees' ownership have made it no secret that they plan on cutting payroll to $189 million by the 2014 season in order to avoid being hit over the head with a major luxury tax.
That means the Bombers lineup could look drastically different in 2014 than the one they are putting out on the field in 2012.
Let's take a look at what the Yankees lineup will look like in two years.
1. Brett Gardner: CF
Gardner is the ideal leadoff hitter for this ballclub, and that's exactly where he'll be hitting when the 2014 season comes around.
Sure, the Yanks would love for Gardner to bring up his on-base percentage, but there's no doubt few in the league can terrorize an opposing pitcher like Gardner can when he's on the bases.
The Yanks' outfielder stole 96 bases in 118 attempts between 2010 and 2011.
Defensively, Gardner is a Gold Glove caliber outfielder and has the perfect speed to patrol center field at Yankee Stadium for years to come.
Having Gardner at the top of the order is a luxury the Yanks didn't have this season, but that will change in the future.
2. Derek Jeter: SS/DH
Jeter will be 40 years old by June of 2014 and while it might seem like a bit of a stretch that he'll still be playing, I'm not ready to bet against The Captain. Jeter keeps himself in tremendous shape year in and year out, not to mention how hard of a worker he is.
Jeter had a sensational regular season at age 38, hitting 15 homers and 58 RBI with a .316 average. On top of those great numbers, Jeter also led the league in hits.
His defense is no doubt the biggest question mark of his game and it will only get more questionable as Jeter ages. But until told otherwise, I'm not betting on the fact that the Yanks will take their shortstop out of his position until he retires.
At the very least, Jeter will spend time at both shortstop and designated hitter in 2014.
3. Robinson Cano: 2B
It's easy to try and justify throwing Cano to the curb after his historically bad performance in this year's playoffs, but the Yanks will resign their best hitter in the next few years, keeping him with the team for the long term.
We all know about Cano's bat. He is easily one of the best hitters in the game and his career-high 33 homers are proof that Cano is getting even better in the power department as well.
It's very feasible Cano goes from being one of the best in the game to the best in the game sometime down the road.
Defense is also a strength of Cano as a former AL Gold Glove winner, and the Yanks' second baseman has the best arm in the league at his position.
The best hitter on the team normally goes in the No. 3 hole, making this spot in the order right where Cano should be.
4. Josh Hamilton: RF
After an embarrassing finish to the 2012 season, the Bombers will be looking to shake things up in a major way.
The Yanks will no doubt let Nick Swisher walk, and Curtis Granderson's inability to hit for average and poor play in the postseason will have him leaving town as well.
Instead, the Bombers will take their money and make the move to bring in Hamilton, who does what Grandy and Swish can't—hit for average and power.
As a left-handed bat with immense power, Hamilton will enjoy hitting at Yankee Stadium with the short right field porch, making him a shoo-in for 40 homers and 100 RBI per season at least. That fact alone makes him an ideal fit for the Yankees.
Hamilton can play center field, but the Yanks would rather have Gardner's speed in that position, pushing Hamilton and his strong arm to a corner outfield position.
5. Mark Teixeira: 1B
In 2014, Teixeira will still be under contract with the Yanks with two more years to follow after that.
Tex won't hit for average, but his brute power will always drive in a ton of runs. The Yanks first baseman has been good for 30 homers and 100 RBI in each season since 2004, with the exception of 2012 as a result of injury.
There are few, if any better defensive first baseman in the MLB today and Tex regularly saves runs with his glove alone. That isn't likely to change in just a few seasons, so expect Tex to be vying for yet another Gold Glove when that season comes.
6. Gary Sanchez: C/DH
There's a chance Sanchez might not be ready by the 2014 season, but the Yanks might need him to in order to keep their payroll in check.
Sanchez has shown incredible offensive numbers that could have him hitting in a major spot in this lineup down the road.
In Single-A, Sanchez hit 18 homers and 85 RBI with a .290 average. Those are quite the impressive numbers for a catcher, thus making it possible he joins the team earlier than expected if he continues to dominate.
While his bat is already showing signs of greatness, Sanchez's glove needs work. That's why the 20-year-old will spend his first season in the majors platooning at catcher while he keeps his bat in the lineup at DH periodically.
7. Eduardo Nunez: 3B/SS
The time will come when Nunez takes over at shortstop for Derek Jeter, but that time won't be in 2014. Instead, Nunez will spend that season at third base, in the same spot Alex Rodriguez once patrolled years before.
Nunez's glove is the only true concern about his game. The 25-year-old still has some work to do, but after a 2012 season that saw him spending time in the minors to fix his problems, improvements should be evident.
As for his bat, Nunez looks supremely confident when he goes up to the plate and along with good speed and an ability to steal bases, Nunez has power to the gaps that could result in a ton of doubles and triples per season.
While he will spend most of his time at third base, look for Nunez to get some time at shortstop as Jeter switches between that position and designated hitter during the season.
8. Mason Williams: LF
Williams will be this team's center fielder in the future, but Gardner will keep his spot for now based on seniority.
The 2014 season could be the first time we see Williams if he continues to rake in the minors. Williams had 11 homers and 35 RBI in Single-A, posting a .298 average with 20 stolen bases.
Williams' speed will help give the Yankees one of the most complete outfields in baseball next to Gardner and Hamilton.
Again, 2014 might be a stretch for this youngster, but with the Yanks' need to cut payroll, Williams could very well be with the big-league club starting that season.
9. Austin Romine: C
Romine's offensive numbers will never wow anyone, but he is a sound defensive catcher.
In 2012, Romine hit .243 with four homers and 15 RBI in the minors. But with the Yanks normal lineup, more offense isn't usually necessary.
Romine has a chance to be a Gold Glove caliber backstop, helping to add some stability behind the plate down the road.
He may not be the long-term solution for the Yanks, but he is the perfect catcher to carry over until the Gary Sanchez era begins.