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2013 Team Preview: New York Yankees

The Yankees are plagued by injuries and Vernon Wells, but can the pitching staff step up and compensate for the holes in the lineup?

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Notable Numbers

2: Number of players from the Yankees' 2012 Opening Day lineup that are expected to be on the 2013 Opening Day lineup. Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira are starting the year on the DL. Nick Swisher, Raul Ibanez, and Russell Martin are all with other teams. The only players on both lineups are Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner, the latter of which missed most of the season.

1.4: The total combined 2012 fWAR total for Eduardo Nunez (0.5), Vernon Wells (0.6), Chris Stewart (0.5), Travis Hafner (0.6), and Juan Rivera (-0.8), each of whom are projected to be in the Opening Day lineup for the Yankees. Now, to be fair, three of the players will be replaced by other, better, ones within a few days to a few months of Opening Day. But as is, the Yankee lineup is a sad state of affairs.

2012 Season in Review:

The Yankees, backed by the usual barrage of home runs (245 - ahead of the next best Orioles by 31), good patience (best walk rate in the American League at 9.1%), and a surprisingly strong rotation (7th best fWAR for pitchers in baseball), won the AL East with a 95-67 record but fell apart in the ALCS against the Tigers.

Key Offseason Moves:

Re-signed Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year, $15 million deal: Kuroda and his agent were smart to decline the Yankees' qualifying offer of $13.3 million, as it made the 38-year-old starting pitcher an additional $1.7 million. In 2012, Kuroda surprised everyone by maintaining essentially the exact same numbers he put up with the Dodgers: 200+ innings, good control, and a low-3 ERA. The Yankees should see some signs of age from Kuroda, but with a one year deal, there is very little risk involved.

Re-signed Andy Pettitte to a one-year, $12 million deal: See above. Pettitte is a veteran starter who has remained surprisingly effective despite the fact that he is more than twice the age of Bryce Harper. Like Kuroda, Pettitte's advanced age carries risk of injury and ineffectiveness, but a one year deal mitigates much of that danger.

Signed Kevin Youkilis to a two-year, $13 million contract: Who could have imagined that happening five years ago? The former Red Sox third baseman will replace Alex Rodriguez while he is injured, and will likely switch off between DH and 3B once A-Rod comes back. Again, injury is the main concern here, but Youkilis can still be a very productive player.

Trade for Vernon Wells: It's pretty easy to be horrified, disgusted, and downright amused by this trade, but in reality, I think it means very little for the Yankees. The Yankees will pay about $13 million of Wells' remaining contract, but most of that will be paid in the first year, which means that the Yankees may even receive a credit towards the $189 payroll limit they are shooting for in 2014.

Depth Chart:

Like I said above, the Opening Day lineup for the Yankees does not look pretty. For the first time in a while, the Yankees must rely on their pitching, not their offense, to help them contend in the East. Both the bench and the 6th and 7th starters will likely play important roles for the Yankees given their age and health concerns. The bullpen is a strong point with the return of Mariano Rivera and Joba Chamberlain.

Check out the Yankees 2013 depth chart at MLB Depth Charts

2013 Outlook:

For the first time in a long time, the Yankees are in danger of having a sub-.500 season. Injuries have already taken out what feels like half the team, and even when those players come back, more are likely to go down. It certainly is too soon to count the Yankees out of the running, but at the moment there are at least two, and maybe three or four, teams that could finish ahead of them in the East.

Check out the Yankees ZiPS projections for 2013 at FanGraphs

Bold Prediction:

Robinson Cano wins AL MVP, Youkilis and A-Rod combine to hit .285 with 30 home runs, and Vernon Wells...oh who am I kidding Vernon Wells will be awful.