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Kevin Youkilis will be the new starting third baseman for the Yankees in 2013
Before comparing them to the rest of the AL East, let's first preview the starters for the Yankees:
Projected Starter: Austin Romine
This is perhaps the Yankees' greatest area of weakness. Russell Martin has departed in favor of the Pittsburgh Pirates, leaving the Yankees with no proven everyday major league catchers.
Their options are prospect Austin Romine, who is not yet completely ready to hit every day in a major league lineup, former backup Chris Stewart, who is a below-average hitter and fan favorite Francisco Cervelli, who seems to lack the overall skill set to play every day in the majors.
There is no defined starter going into this season, and it will be a battle between those three (barring a last-minute move by Brian Cashman) to determine who will start on opening day. I predict Romine will surprise people with his bat and win the job in late March.
Projected Starters: Mark Teixeira (1B), Robinson Cano (2B), Derek Jeter (SS), Kevin Youkilis (3B)
The Yankees infield is packed with All-stars. It is their greatest area of strength and will continue to be in 2013.
They do not have a weakness at any position, and it is very possible that all four starting infielders make the All-Star team this season. Even with third baseman Alex Rodriguez sidelined, for possibly the season, the Yankees found an ample replacement in Kevin Youkilis.
Not many teams will have a better infield in 2013.
Projected Starters: Brett Gardner (LF), Curtis Granderson (CF), Ichiro Suzuki (RF)
Outfield is an area of transition for the Yankees. They lost Nick Swisher to Cleveland this offseason and are returning only one player who played in the Yankees outfield full time last season.
While Brett Gardner is speedy and one of the best defenders in the game, he missed most of last season with an injury and looked uncomfortable at the plate upon his return. Curtis Granderson looked lost against lefties at the end of 2012, and Ichiro, while revitalized after being traded midseason to New York, is 39 years old.
There is a lot of potential here, but also a lot of uncertainty.
Projected Starter: Travis Hafner
It looked as though the Yankees might spend all season rotating some of their older players at DH and giving Eduardo Nunez and Jayson Nix more extended playing time while they filled in in the field.
Instead, the Yankees signed Travis Hafner to a low-risk, high-reward deal that could pay dividends as Hafner's powerful left-handed swing seems to fit Yankee Stadium perfectly.
They will also still use it to rest some of their older players, such as Derek Jeter, against lefties.
Projected Starters: CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova
The entire Opening Day rotation from last season returns for the Yankees in 2013.
Sabathia should be ready to assume his ace role once he is fully recovered from surgery, Kuroda is coming off of his best season to date, Andy Pettitte continues to provide quality outings, Phil Hughes will look to build on the progress he made late last season and Nova will look to bounce back after a down year.
David Phelps will also provide depth as a spot starter and could even steal Nova's spot if he falters.
The wild card here is the return of Michael Pineda, presumably near the All-Star break, that could either disappoint or give the Yankees a huge boost. Regardless of how Pineda fares, the Yankees should have a strong rotation in 2013.