We're all tired of the on-going A.J. Burnett saga, so let's shift our attention to the 2012 season and have a little fun today. Here are five bold Yankees predictions I thought up to spark some discussion. Feel free to add your own 2012 predictions in the comments section.
Let's enter the unknown...
1. Phil Hughes wins the 5th starter job and wins 15 or more games
It isn't crazy to think this can happen, especially when you think back to how effective he was in '10 (18-8, 4.19 ERA). He came in out of shape last year and suffered some shoulder issues, but came back and showed flashes of his former self. Hughes worked extremely hard this winter to get in the best shape of his life, and seems motivated to silence his critics once and for all.
2. Curtis Granderson fails to hit more than 30 HR
I may be in the minority, but I think Grandy is in line for a serious regression in '12. A few things jump out at me: First, his HR/FB rate was a crazy 20.5%, which isn't sustainable. Second, he hit .272 with 16 homers against lefties last year. His previous career high against lefties was .259 with 5 homers back in '08. There is bound to be some correction across the board, and it could be significant enough to push him back near or below the 30 homer mark.
3. Michael Pineda masters the cutter and becomes an ace
All the talk is about Pineda improving changeup, and while I think he'll take a step forward with that pitch, the real story will be him learning to attack lefties with a deadly cutter. Phil Hughes utilized the pitch after learning it from Mariano Rivera, so why can't Pineda?
4. Ivan Nova is what we thought he was: A back of the rotation starter
People are going nuts about Nova, but I have my reservations. He doesn't strike anyone out (5.33 K/9) and has good, but not great control (3.10 BB/9). His ERA outperformed his peripherals slightly (4.01 FIP, 4.16 xFIP), and his performance is overly magnified by his gaudy win/loss record (16-4 in '11). Is Nova a solid innings eater with good stuff? Absolutely. But talent wise, he's the Yankees fifth best starter, and my expectations are scaled back to reflect that.
5. Brian Cashman finalizes his divorce and begins a public romance with Kate Upton
I never said these were going to be accurate, but the thought of Cash-$$$ The Gigolo with the latest SI Swimsuit Issue cover girl makes for a comical discussion. Plus, I just wanted to discuss Kate Upton. So, let's talk about Kate Upton.
I'm not asking anyone to agree with me on these, just some things I was thinking about. At the very least, it gives us a starting point to discuss things further. What are some of your bold Yankees predictions for the 2012 season?