|The face made by Jeter in response to the GRBG's request for comment.|
Features Mike Napoli and Prince Fielder, yet is possibly the weakest unit on the team. (That's a scary thought.) But once you get past those two guys, there are some question marks. Aramis Ramirez is a trick-or-treat player at 3B, and generally has been a guy you want the year before he signs a big FA deal, not the year after. Jason Kipnis is an interesting prospect at 2B, but doesn't have much of a track record. Of course, the owner seems to realize this and has brought in cover in the forms of Neil Walker and ...
Brian Roberts! Because why not bring in a 35 year old MI with multiple concussions and one remaining viable cervical disc?
But while we gently mock, it is likely that at least one of those three guys holds down the keystone well enough. That just leaves Jeter, who missed a number of games last year and has no backup on the roster. We think that the two big boppers will provide adequate cover, but this is the spot where things could get ugly.
Solid. While there's no real elite guy, there are three solid above-average choices. Given the sneaky lack of depth in the OF, that's a nice setup. We like Shin-Soo Choo to bounce back this year now that he's done stress-drinking in reaction to the possibility of getting drafted into the Korean army. Andre Ethier took a step forward last year, although he's still under the radar because he plays next to Matt Kemp. And Nick Swisher is a happy marriage of player skills, ballpark, and team, as his walk-and-hack routine fits perfectly in the New Yankee Launching Pad and with a deep, productive lineup. Not sure what Ichiro has left in the tank, but he's starting the year on the bench and should be adequate as a speed sub and injury cover.
The rotation has a chance to be absolutely monstrous. Dan Haren and Jared Weaver will probably take a little step back from their crazy 2011, but they're still almost certain to perform well. Behind them is injury retread Josh Johnson, and dual rookie sensations Yu Darvish and Matt Moore. While we are usually leery of both injured arms and youth on the hill, these are about the best bets you could make in those categories. We don't love Jeremy Hellickson as much, but life's not bad if he's your sixth starter.
Currently a bit shallow, with only a post-injury Brian Wilson and job-threatened Matt Thornton holding down closer roles. That said, Jon Broxton or Brian Fuentes could end up with a closer role sometime this year, so they will be fine if everything breaks right. Even if it doesn't, they still have enough here to push towards the top of the non-megapen teams, which should be enough to stay respectable in SV.
Also, Jonny Venters is fun as hell, which counts for something.
Yes, the middle infield situation is problematic, and yes, the pen is not going to be elite. But in a year with no real monster Opening Day squads, this team looks like its in the best shape heading into the season.