Fantasy Articles
It is difficult for a team to have a $200 million dollar payroll and not feature several top fantasy players. And sure enough, the Yankees are loaded with fantasy talent, although a lot of it comes with questions attached. Jonathan Leshanski takes you through the assortment of all-stars and gives his take on whom to pick and whom to avoid.

The Best of the Bunch (Elite Players):

CC Sabathia (SP): Sabathia is one of the elite pitchers in the game and he’ll be among the first five pitchers taken on draft day.  He’ll contribute big time in all four categories, and pitching in New York should only add to his value.  He’s capable of making a run at 20 wins, posting 225 Ks, 2.80 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP and barring injury he’s got a real good chance of making it too.

Mark Teixeira (1B): One of the elite first baseman in the game Teixeira contributes heavily in every category but speed.  He won’t lose too much in terms of fantasy value because of A-Rod’s absence, but he probably will finish with a few less RBIs.  Think .300-32-100-100 as the floor with the ceiling 10-20% above that.

Mariano Rivera (CL): Still one of the elite closers in the game, the 38 year old Mariano seems to be a timeless commodity.  Closing for the Yankees is as good a job as it gets and Marino has been doing it for a long time.  Think 35 saves, 70 Ks, and a WHIP somewhere around 1.00.

The Second Tier (Superior Players):

He may not like it, but A-Rod is not first tier material thanks to his injury.
Alex Rodriguez (3B): A-Rod’s value took a real hit when it was revealed he’d miss at least four weeks of the season.   How much of a hit it really takes depends on when he comes back and just how well he can run and hit.   With a hip injury like this, there is a good chance Alex won’t be running as much so it would probably be smart to toss your speed expectations for him out the window and pay for four months of a four category A-Rod.  That’s still better than just about any third tier third baseman.

The Third Tier (Better than Average Players):

Derek Jeter (SS): Thankfully in most leagues defense counts for squat.  That means you can draft Jeter for his bat and not worry about anything else.  The Yankees are planning on batting him first, which may lead to more steals which will increase his value.  Think 100 runs scored, .300 average, 10-12 home runs 60 RBIs to go with 15 + steals.

Johnny Damon (OF): He’s another reason you are glad that defense doesn’t matter in fantasy ball.  Damon is coming off one of the best season in his career, but at age 35 some decline seems inevitable.   Still it’s hard not to like a guy with a track record of 13 seasons playing more than 140 games.  It’s also hard not to like his 15-20 home run power coupled with 25 steal speed.

Jorge Posada (C/DH): At 37 and coming off major shoulder surgery it’s hard to feel totally confident about what Posada brings to the table for 2009.  However he’s had a solid spring.  Realize he’s going to need time off, and with Matsui and possibly A-Rod needing time as DH, he’s likely to lose some at bats.  Still he’s a better bet than a lot of catchers ranked above him and he’ll be available at a discount.

Robinson Cano (2B):
He’s got power and can hit for average in a thin position.  Throw in the fact he’s in the Yankees lineup and you can almost forgive the fact he’s got no speed to speak of.   The potential for a 20 home run, .300 campaign is very real.

Question Marks, Cheap Buys and sleepers:

A.J. Burnett (SP): The 32 year old pitcher for the Yankees is coming off a season of career bests and probably will be vastly overvalued on draft day.  Not only will his price be unattractive but in reality so is his track record as he rarely manages 30 starts in a season.   Mix in the Yankees (lack of) defense and Burnett has the potential to have a rough season.   A regression from last season is pretty much inevitable.

Hideki Matsui (OF/DH): For at least the first month or two of the season Matsui is going to be limited to DH duties.   That’s a concern and tells us that his knee hasn’t fully healed as the Yankees had hoped it would.   He’ll certainly be the one pushed to the side if A-Rod can only DH upon his return.   Still you can’t discount the potency of Matsui’s bat; he’s capable of posting a .290-20-90 line if he can get 500 AB.

Xavier Nady (OF): Nady has won the battle with Nick Swisher to be the team’s everyday right fielder, but fantasy players shouldn’t be too quick to buy into the hype.  Nady does have power enough to match last year’s 25 home run mark, but his average and slugging percentage of last year are deceptive - they are far above his career norms and not likely to be repeated.

Chien-Ming Wang (SP): Under ordinary circumstances Wang brings wins to the table along with a respectable ERA, but he’s not going to help you much in terms of strikeouts or WHIP.  Buy him cheap and pump the win totals, find other sources for K’s and WHIP.

Andy Pettitte (SP): Someone will buy into the Yankees hype and draft Pettitte but unless you are playing in a shallow league it probably shouldn’t be you.  The 36 year old lefty has slipped a lot in recent years.  Unless you can stomach a 4.5 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP you are better off looking elsewhere for pitching.

Joba Chamberlain (SP):
You’ve heard the hype about Matt Wieters; you’ve heard the hype about David Price.  Neither have anything on the hype machine of Joba Chamberlain - and the hype may well be deserved.  Cast in the Roger Clemens mold, Joba is a power pitcher who can strikeout better than a batter per inning, while walking few and racking up some wins.  However, he’ll be on an inning limit (about 140 innings) and has had some injury issues which should be a reason for caution.

Nick Swisher (1B/OF): Swisher has talent but no place to play unless a corner outfielder or Mark Teixeira suffers an injury.  He’s worth grabbing as a replacement if that happens though.