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Know Your Enemy: New York Yankees

Cracks have appeared in the Yankee armor. Which direction will that take them?

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees missed the playoffs in 2013. That's big news in New York. As Cubs fans we'd have probably loved an 85-77 season in 2013.

Truth be told, the Yankees probably shouldn't have been even that good. They had a negative run differential (-21), outperformed their Pythagorean win estimate by six games and finished 10th in the American League in runs scored.

In large part, that was due to injuries to key players. The Yankees were starting guys like Chris Stewart , Jayson Nix and Lyle Overbay most of the year. One of the reasons they were even in the playoff conversation was an excellent 30-16 record in one-run games. That, of course, was led by now-retired closer Mariano Rivera. David Robertson, Rivera's fine setup man, will take over at closer... but could that create a domino effect with the relievers behind him?

The Yankees have attempted to fix the trouble with their offense by reconstituting the 2007 All-Star team. No, seriously. Three of their four free-agent signings (Brian McCann, Brian Roberts, Carlos Beltran) were All-Stars in 2007, and Jacoby Ellsbury, the fourth, was only a couple of years from joining them. Ellsbury will help the Yankees, though that leaves them a couple of outfielders (Alfonso Soriano, Ichiro Suzuki) that they'll have to sit on the bench for long periods of time, use as DHs, or platoon. (Incidentally, Soriano and Ichiro were also 2007 All-Stars.)

If you're getting the idea that this is an old team, you're right. Not one of the projected starters is under 30, and at least two of them (Roberts and Mark Teixeira) are attempting comebacks from serious injuries.

Then there's the starting pitching. CC Sabathia has reportedly lost a lot of weight; he had the worst year of his career in 2013, so maybe that will help. Of course, as we all know, Masahiro Tanaka was added to the Yankee rotation at a very high cost. No one yet knows whether he'll be worth it, although his first spring outing was quite impressive.

Perhaps the best thing for the Yankees this year is that the Alex Rodriguez saga is settled, at least for 2014. He's suspended and the court cases are over and he won't be around. No A-Rod circus. The Yankees signed Kelly Johnson, who is a decent enough player, to play third base, replacing A-Rod. That could get interesting defensively, as Johnson has played just 16 big-league games at third base, all of them last year.

For a team with so many former Cubs in coaching and management (Girardi, Larry Rothschild, Mick Kelleher, Jim Hendry), the roster is almost ex-Cub-free. Soriano is the only former Cub on the New York 40-man roster, and the only non-roster invitee who has any Cubs connection is Robert Coello, who spent 2011 in the Cub organization at Tennessee and Iowa.

I really don't know what to think about the Yankees. Maybe they can get one last gasp out of all these old players and return to the postseason. Maybe that's why Joe Girardi re-upped for four more years of the Steinbrenner Circus.

Somehow, though, I think this is the year it all starts to fall apart in the Bronx.

The Yankees are likely to be relatively healthy, anyway, when they first play the Cubs. The teams will play a pair of two-game series, first in Yankee Stadium April 15-16, then at Wrigley Field May 20-21, where the Cubs will likely honor Derek Jeter, who is retiring at the end of 2014.