Matt made an interesting case in this morning’s Pinch Hitter post, and it was based on more than blind desire. Strikeouts are a good sign for a pitcher, and if you buy into the idea that Ivan Nova was better than his overall results last season, then it makes sense that he would be primed for a significant rebound this year.
But let’s throw reasoned logic out the window for just a moment.
If the Yankees could pick three players to rebound this season, who would they be? The rebound could happen anywhere in the system — a big leaguer playing like he’s back in his prime, or a prospect getting back on the map. Here are my picks, the three players who could make the biggest difference for the Yankees if they bounced back from a rough 2012.
This has to be the most obvious selection of the bunch, right? With a strong and healthy season from Pineda, the Yankees could see a mid-season rotation upgrade that lasts well beyond the end of the year. Nova rebounding could solidify the back of the rotation in both the short term and the long term, but a huge return from Pineda could impact the top of the rotation well into the future. The Yankees don’t absolutely have to have Pineda this year, but the extended impact would be substantial.
Here’s my hesitation about including Teixeira: He can still be plenty productive without having a huge bounceback. Add enough health to keep him on the field, and Teixeira could still be a significant source of power without being a significantly different player. But if Teixeira can rebound, it would mean a return to the player he was in that first year with the Yankees. The power hasn’t gone away, but a bounceback might be enough to bring him back to his MVP-caliber days. And with Teixeira signed through 2016, a rebound could carry beyond this season.
I considered CC Sabathia for my third spot (makes more sense if you believe he was entirely un-ace-like last year) and I considered Eduardo Nunez (showing enough defensive improvement to be a Derek Jeter replacement in the near future) and I considered Austin Romine (but rebound to what?). Ultimately I settled on a guy whose rebound would give the Yankees the legitimate, big league ready pitching prospect that they’ve seemed to lack all winter. At this time last year, Baseball America considered Betances one of the 75 best prospects in baseball. If he could get his command under control, he just might have a big league future after all.
Associated Press photo