Thursday, December 26, 2013

10 Christmas and Hanukkah Gifts for 2014 Yankees and Their Fans

It's December 26, a day to return that ugly sweater your Aunt Betty gave you, get greeting cards at half off, drink 12 pots of coffee to stay awake, drink eight bottles of water to try to push out the 3 tons of sugar you ingested in the last 72 hours, decide how many days it will be until you finally take down your Christmas lights and get rid of your tree, and start to prepare for the new year.

With that in mind here are 10 items the Yankees need and will hopefully receive in 2014:

1. A healthy Derek Jeter. It was strange enough knowing that Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte were retiring after the 2013 season, but to see the Yankees captain play two more games (17) than he did in 1995 was mind boggling.  A healthy Jeter and his leadership will be a big asset to the 2014 squad.

2. Masahiro Tanaka says "Hai (yes)" when asked if he wants to sign a Yankees contract. After much deliberation the Rakuten Golden Eagles decided to allow Tanaka to post out to play in the Major Leagues. A team, hopefully the one in the Bronx, will pay a $20MM fee to Rakuten and many more millions to Tanaka to take the mound every fifth day. Ironically, Tanaka's fellow countryman, Hiroki Kuroda, is currently wearing Tanaka's #18 on the Yankees. The six-year MLB veteran has always worn 18 on both the Dodgers and Yankees. Tanaka would look good sporting #19, previously worn by pitchers Bob Turley and Dave Righetti.

3. Alex Rodriguez loses his suspension appeal.  Yes, yes, I know many of you support A-Rod and don't think he deserves more than a 50 game suspension. But if the royal pain misses one season, the Yankees can adjust their roster better for the future. You also know that many of the fans that support him now will be the same ones booing him if he returns and doesn't do well.

4. Jacoby Ellsbury has a huge year to make everyone forget there are still another six years on his contract. A gross overpayment, though not as gross as the contract Shin-Soo Choo signed with Texas.

5. CC Sabathia re-learns how to pitch with stuff that's not as fast or sharp as it used to be. An elbow cleaning and a ton of innings and pitches thrown seemed to catch up with the big man last year. The good thing is that CC always knew how to be a pitcher and not just a thrower. The Yankees need him back to, at the very least, 90% of his former self.

6. Mark Teixeira stops trying to pull everything from the left side and becomes a more complete hitter again. Tex has been banged up the last few years, including his disastrous 2013 campaign that ended with wrist surgery. His numbers have dwindled since he came to New York prior to the 2009 season, primarily because he's become pull happy when he's batting left-handed. Here's to him laying off breaking balls in the dirt. He'll still hit plenty of "Tex Messages"

7. The Yankees somewhere down the line in 2014, find a real solution at second base rather than the good power/mediocre hitting Kelly Johnson, and the walking disabled list, Brian Roberts.

8. David Robertson or whoever is at least 75% of the closer that Mariano Rivera was. No one can be Mariano, and everyone knows that, but the fans need to give the bullpen a chance to sort things out and to remember that saves are not an (almost) automatic any more.

9. John Sterling comes up with more corny, ridiculous, and ill-conceived home run calls for the new players the Yankees have brought in. I can't substantiate these, but Sterling could be using:
"Ellsbury Fields forever."
"McCann got all of his shoes into that one."
"Report to the home run deck Mr. Roberts." Accompanied by an  homage to the Henry Fonda 1955 movie. "It was a classic Suzyn!"
"Carlos Belt and Ran."
10. A reason to make Joe Girardi switch to #29 in 2015. You can figure that one out.

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