Predicting New York Yankees' Starting Lineup Next Season

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Predicting New York Yankees' Starting Lineup Next Season
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

General manager Brian Cashman has a ton of work to do for the 2014 season, and constructing a lineup should be the next logical move after re-signing manager Joe Girardi.

Creating a lineup will be difficult. There are a ton of questions surrounding the team regarding who should be re-signed and who should be allowed to walk, and there's also that whole Alex Rodriguez suspension thing. Oh yeah, and can Derek Jeter still play shortstop? These are all questions that Cashman will need to address in the coming months.

The free-agent market isn't particularly deep, and the New York Yankees are in a delicate phase of the franchise. Having not made the playoffs for the second time since 2008, the Yankees need to decide if their older players have another World Series run in them. If they don't, then it's probably time to blow it up and start back over from scratch.

The Yankees should field a competitive lineup next season, even if it will look a little bit different than year's past.

 

Let 'Em Walk

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

There are a few players that Cashman should let walk, whether it be because of money or because of fit with the team.

Curtis Granderson should be on a new team next season—the Chicago White Sox, perhaps? Cashman will not pay top dollar for a mediocre outfielder and perennial threat to strike out nearly 200 times. Forty-plus homers will be difficult to replace, but one can argue a 20-homer guy that hits .280 and racks up extra-base hits would be equally as productive.

Despite his surprising 2013, Lyle Overbay will also be gone. With Mark Teixeira back in the lineup, Overbay becomes expendable. He would have been a nice trade chip for the Yankees at the trade deadline of last season, but Teixeira's wrist prompted the Bombers to keep him.

 

Bring 'Em Back

The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

First, we need to address the elephant in the room.

No, not Mark Reynolds—although I predict he'll re-sign to back up first base and platoon at third. Robinson Cano is the Yankees' biggest free agent in recent memory, and he's already asking the moon and the stars in terms of contract length and value.

While the money he's asking for likely won't be given to him by anyone, expect Cano to still get a nice payday. In the end, the Yankees will be re-signing their second baseman. If the Los Angeles Dodgers supposedly don't want to be in the mix, then who else has a chance at shelling out top dollar? Nobody.

Brendan Ryan is also a guy that needs to be back in pinstripes. Despite his lackluster performance at the plate, he was a revelation in the field and formed an incredible defensive middle infield with Cano to his left. What you see is what you get with Ryan. If he hits .240 in over 400 at-bats, then consider it a bonus.

 

Toughest Decisions

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In my eyes, the Yankees have three tough decisions outside of the obvious Cano situation. First is addressing third base.

With no indication otherwise just yet, Rodriguez will be suspended for 2014. This leaves a gaping hole on the left side of the infield. Reynolds is an option to be part of a platoon over there as the right-handed hitter, but a lefty stick would be nice to have as well.

Cashman could potentially bring 36-year-old Eric Chavez back to the Bronx for another season in pinstripes, or they could test second baseman Skip Schumaker over at the hot corner. Chavez would appear to be the best bet.

The second question comes at shortstop. Can Jeter still man the position? His legs aren't what they used to be, he's clearly lost a step over the years, and the guy who finished out the season there has arguably the best glove in the league. To me, these all add up to Jeter being the full-time designated hitter and Ryan being the full-time shortstop.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The runs Ryan will save at short should be more than enough to make up for the runs he doesn't drive in at the plate. Plus, it could be good for the Yankees to have a guy hitting ninth that can move runners over and steal a few bases here and there.

Finally, Cashman needs to address his outfield. Currently, Alfonso Soriano, Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells are on the roster. The Yankees could choose to stick with these four and platoon Ichiro and Wells in right field, or they could look to dump one of the two and go after a free agent.

The only right fielder worth going after—in my opinion—is Carlos Beltran, and his strong postseason suggests that the St. Louis Cardinals might not let him go so easily. He probably won't be changing teams.

 

Sign Him

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

There's one free-agent position player that the Yankees need to pull out all the stops to sign. Catcher Brian McCann is an immediate upgrade over Chris Stewart, Austin Romine and Francisco Cervelli, and signing him to a four-year deal would be enough time to allow Gary Sanchez to continue his development in the minors.

Unless he re-signs in Atlanta, McCann should be wearing pinstripes in 2014. It's a no-brainer, and there should be no excuse for Cashman if he doesn't make it happen.

A perennial 20-home run threat and rock behind the plate, McCann has proven himself nothing if not consistent over the years. He also plays with a fire that could do well to ignite some of the older players on the squad.

Four years and $48 million—do it, Cashman.

 

The Lineup

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Given the fact that there could be a couple of platoons in 2014, here is what I predict that Yankees' lineup will look like against both lefties and righties.

 

Lefties

1. Brett Gardner, CF

2. Derek Jeter, DH

3. Mark Teixeira, 1B

4. Robinson Cano, 2B

5. Alfonso Soriano, LF

6. Brian McCann, C

7. Mark Reynolds, 3B

8. Vernon Wells, RF

9. Brendan Ryan, SS

 

Righties

1. Brett Gardner, CF

2. Derek Jeter, DH

3. Mark Teixeira, 1B

4. Robinson Cano, 2B

5. Alfonso Soriano, LF

6. Brian McCann, C

7. Eric Chavez, 3B

8. Ichiro Suzuki, RF

9. Brendan Ryan, SS

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