Complete New York Yankees 2014 Spring Training Preview

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Complete New York Yankees 2014 Spring Training Preview
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The pinstripes and interlocking "NY" look the same, but what about the new identity of the team as 2014 ushers in a new era? What does that change mean, and how would you begin to identify with the present state of the franchise?

Maybe those thoughts don't matter to you, and what's solely important on the cusp of spring training is the eventual on-field product who will be wearing pinstripes. A starting nine who, if healthy, could form one of the most formidable offensive forces in Major League Baseball.

It's their hopeful ascension to the top of the bitter American League East and their return to prominence in October—all behind a Japanese star pitcher, a premier center fielder, an iconic postseason switch-hitter, a stalwart catcher with great locker-room conscience and the captain who's had a hand in the last five World Series titles.

But no matter the 25-man apparatus which ultimately operates on the surface, it's hard to ignore the structural changes from this past offseason. And there's no simple Point A to Point B—from Game No. 162 in 2013 to suddenly hopping a flight to spring training in 2014.

For a complete New York Yankees spring training preview—stacked to the brim with an offseason recap, injury updates, coaching storylines, lineup projections and more—we have to cover the context into which this version of the organization heads to Tampa.

There's a fault line forming in the Bronx since last season. It runs between the transformed, attractive team we'll see on the field and the shifted foundational pieces beneath the organization's surface, the most integral of which have been removed since Game 162.

It's not that 2014 is suddenly the year of the rupture and the collapse at the epicenter, but it feels like there are tremors on the eve of camp because a number of anxious, cosmetic fixes were made to correct what went wrong in 2013.

Yet for all the signings this winter, and despite paying for what they see as the cost required to win, the Yankees could be entering spring training teetering on a fancy idea of success and a reality of coming up short.

Continuing the trend to throw cash at free agents, they've repeatedly failed to properly value the MLB draft, player development or real trust in the farm. And that's just one issue; one of the few unchanged aspects. 

That free will to spend is a pragmatic modus operandi when there's a working foundational structure already in place—take the 2008 spending antidote and the 2009 outcome. 

But this isn't 2009, and putting a flashy lineup on the field should translate to revenue but it may not translate to contention.

We're in a new era in which the power structures of success have changed not only in MLB, but also within the longtime leviathan of the league, the Yankees.

The closer, who was the greatest security blanket in the history of finishing ballgames, is gone; the lefty workhorse, who was one of the most consistent, reliable Yankee pitchers to begin ballgames, is out; the scrappy second baseman, who came up through the system as a teenager and blossomed into one of the most valuable players in the game, has apathetically left at age 31; and the captain, who is on a one-year deal while he turns 40, is both returning from injury and staring at his own career's twilight for the first time. 

The infield is unresolved and worrisome; the bullpen competition between at least a dozen unproven names.

And still the Yankees could win 95 games in 2014.

They could capture the division crown and make a run in the postseason—and Yanks brass may look cunning by season's end.

With or without true Yankee "success" through overvaluing and overspending, they will still be one year delayed in setting into motion what could be a smarter long-term model. One that, in part, finds undervalued pieces from outside and trusts the younger, unproven ones from within.  

This isn't meant to castigate or doom the organization; it's a reminder that things are simply different in the Bronx, and that there's a heck of a lot to consider about the larger trends, changes and identity of this organization as they head to Tampa.

We're already arrived to the second week of February, so regardless of who this team is, and who this franchise really is, it's time to preview the Yankees ahead of 2014 spring training.

On the dawn of camp, and with Opening Day officially on the horizon, strap in for a definitive guide to the Bombers. We'll get into outlining some lineups, bullpen makeups, hot players to watch and even key position battles to follow.

Same old pinstripes and interlocking "NY" heading to workouts, but the beginning of the latest era—the post-Rivera, -Pettitte and -Cano one giving way to the latest Tanaka, Ellsbury, McCann and Beltran one. There are many roster decisions to come and an impending 162 games which could get them back to their winning ways, but it could also prove to be uncharted territory for fans and players alike. 


All common statistics courtesy of the hard-working people of Baseball-Reference, and advanced statistics/metrics derived from the great folks at FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted. 

Peter F. Richman is a Featured Columnist for the New York Yankees. You can follow him on Twitter: 

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