Brien: Recent history has shown Brian Cashman to be quite adept at overhauling his bullpen during the season, or for new faces to emerge there over the course of the year. In 2009, it was Alfredo Aceves and Phil Hughes developing into surprisingly integral parts of the team. In 2010, it was the deadline acquisition of Kerry Wood to be the primary set up man for Mariano Rivera. And in 2011, it was the evolution of David Robertson from under-utilized middle reliever in April to elite set up man by the end of the year. Given that, the obvious answer here is that some change will be made to the bullpen but, given the current make up, I really can’t see where a major change would come from, barring a significant injury to one of the three primary righties or complete ineffectiveness from the left handers. Cory Wade might lose his job at some point, but I’m not sure swapping the faces of the low leverage guys is much of a big change.
So, unfortunately, we’ll have to go with the obvious answer and say the rotation. With Michael Pineda and Andy Pettitte changing the composition of the group by 40% sometime in May, it’s safe to say this group will likely be much different in October than in April.
Tamar: Perhaps the most obvious answer right now would be the starting rotation, considering Andy Pettitte and Michael Pineda will both not be ready for Opening Day. I also suppose that by the end of the season Eric Chavez will be injured, but that’s based purely on the fact that he is made of glass – I hope he’s able to make it through the season relatively unscathed.
William Tasker: The October Yankees will have Andy Pettitte in the rotation unlike the April version. David Aardsma and perhaps Joba Chamberlain will be in the bullpen and, by then, the Yankees will have upgraded the DH position.
Hippeaux: The rotation. With Pineda hitting the D.L., it seems likely the Opening Day rotation will be Sabathia, Kuroda, Nova, Hughes, and Garcia. I don’t dislike the staff, but it certainly raises questions. Can Hughes rebound? Is Nova legit? Can Kuroda handle the AL? How much does Garcia have left? It would surprise me very little if come October, or even August, only C.C. is still taking the mound every fifth day. Pineda and Pettitte will, presumably, be ready as early as May. I expect Manny Banuelos to make a strong case for late-season promotion. And, there is a pretty incredible crop of pitchers scheduled for free agency at the end of the season, which could lead to temptation at the trade deadline (Brandon McCarthy will probably get shopped hard, and with good cause. Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Anibal Sanchez, and Shaun Marcum all play for teams who expect to contend, but that could change by July. Francisco Liriano, Jonathan Sanchez, and Gavin Floyd could also be interesting, if they manage to finally produce in accordance with their substantial talents.). The Yankee’s plethora of pitching options should be viewed as a good thing, but it leads me to believe that significant turnover is inevitable.
Gabe Lezra: Well, I’d bet a ton of money that Michael Pineda will be the number two starter for the Yanks in October (with Kuroda at 3 and Hughes at 4). Freddy Garcia will be traded around the deadline for the always-entertaining Player To Be Named Later, and Andy Pettitte will be in the rotation. Outside that, we’ll have to see, as a lot depends on how the playoffs shape up.
Az Nekoukar:You’re going to be pumped about a 1-2 punch of CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda heading into the playoffs. No, seriously. There has been so much talk about him this preseason, mostly negative, and mostly because he’s been shrouded in mystery and came at the steep price of Jesus Montero. But he’s really very good. In his age-22 rookie season he sported an above-average 103 ERA+, and a better than 3-to-1 strikeout ratio. He struck out more than a batter per inning. And while all that took place before his spring difficulties with velocity and injuries and talk of the minor leagues, this is not the case of a 30-something pitcher whose health and recovery potential is suspect. He will bounce back, and he will give value. And even despite the soreness, the tendinitis, and the reduced velocity, he still struck out nearly a batter per inning this spring (18 in 19 innings to be exact). The signs of a good season are there, and by October, I think you’ll see them, and they’ll be vital to any playoff success the Yankees have.
Jason: I’ll wear the hoodie of doom for this exercise, just because.
In October, we will be facing the reality that #42, the Great Mariano Rivera will have thrown his last pitch (or about to, at least). The idea of MFIKY (Rafael Soriano) taking over next year will sicken all of us, but so long as David Robertson doesn’t fall off the table, we can hope he lands the 9th inning gig. David Aardsma provides us with a bit of hope for a solid bullpen in Year 1 AM, After Mo.
Further compounding our doomsday scenario will be the fact that ARod will finish the year on the DL due to yet another leg injury. He will, however, seek some alternate medicinal counsel/mojo/mumbo-jumbo in a far off land and return for the Spring, teasing us yet again that he has a magical year ahead, despite what we already know to be true (the downhill slope is a slippery, nasty bitch).
And then there is Derek Jeter, who, despite warding off Father Time for so long, finally succumbs. He won’t be replaced in the line-up, but he’s fighting the same slope that ARod is sliding down. We spend the 2012 off-season debating if Jeter’s pride will allow him to step aside when his production is far from Jeterian or will that pride keep him in the line-up daily, regardless of the team’s best interests.
Of course, all of this a) might not happen and b) the Yanks can still make noise if some of it does happen anyway.