Playing in New York brings added pressure to succeed. Every year a championship is expected and when that does not happen, players are held accountable. This year the team has received a facelift in hopes of competing for not only the AL East title, but also a World Championship. Here are five players who could feel heat if they do not perform.
#5 Brian Roberts
When on the field Brian Roberts has been an elite second baseman. The problem with Roberts is that he simply cannot stay on the field. His last healthy season was with Baltimore in 2009, when he played in 159 games. During this season, Roberts batted .283 and led the league in doubles. Since then he has not had a season in which he has appeared in more than 77 games. The two-time all-star is currently the frontrunner to replace the departed Robinson Cano at second base. A healthy Roberts can help soften the blow, but if he battles injuries again the position could turn into a black hole.
#4 C.C. Sabathia
After his stellar second half in Milwaukee during the 2008 season, Sabathia signed a mega deal with the Yankees. The deal immediately paid dividends for New York, as he helped them capture their 27th world championship. But, since then the team has not been to a world series. After putting up Cy Young like seasons, C.C. had the worst season of his career last year. He lost weight, lost velocity, and lost games. Sabathia posted a mediocre 14-13 record and allowed a league leading 112 earned runs. He struggled with command all season as his strike out rate fell and his walk rate increased. With at least three seasons left on his contract at 23 million dollars per year, the Yankees need Sabathia to turn it around if they are going to compete.
#3 Mark Teixeira
Last season, Mark Teixeira had only 53 at-bats due to injury. Because of his loss in the lineup, the first base position struggled to find consistency. His absence left a hole in the lineup. A healthy Teixeira should be a huge upgrade. When playing, Teixeira has been counted on to produce 20-plus homeruns each year. He, like Sabathia, has plenty of money and years left on his contract, so if he cannot produce at a high level, he will be a costly aging veteran.
#2 David Robertson
Replacing a fan favorite is never easy, but replacing a legend is a near impossible task. David Robertson will attempt to replace Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in the history of baseball. As a setup man, Robertson was great. He even appeared in an all-star game in 2012. However, Robertson has just eight saves to his name. When things do not go his way, Robertson will need to be able to have a short memory and rebound quickly. While he cannot be expected to be dominant, there is hope that he can be a solid replacement.
#1 Masahiro Tanaka
Even though Masahiro Tanaka has not pitched a game in the Major Leagues, his giant contract shows that the Yankees believe that he can be an elite pitcher. Tanka went 24-0 last season in Japan with a 1.27 ERA. He even had big game experience by pitching his team to a championship, and pitching in the World Baseball Classic. He will need his splitter working each time out in hitter friendly Yankee Stadium to keep the ball in the yard. With the struggles the Yankees staff had last year, they need Tanaka to step in and solidify the rotation immediately. If he can’t, the Yankees chances will have no chance at another title run this year.
Statistics Provided by Baseball Reference