2014 New York Yankees
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2014 New York Yankees / Franchise: New York Yankees / BR Team Page
Managed by Joe Girardi
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2014 New York Yankees opened the season in an unfamiliar position: they did not have the highest payroll in the major leagues, having been beaten by the Los Angeles Dodgers, who set a record with a $234 million payroll on opening day, ahead of the Yankees' $199 million. The Yankees had had the highest payroll for 15 straight seasons before that, including the previous record of $230 million, set in 2013.
The main reason the Yankees' payroll had gone down is that 3B Alex Rodriguez's huge salary did not have to be counted this year. After a veritable soap opera during the off-season, he had finally agreed not to contest the one-year suspension handed to him by Major League Baseball and confirmed by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz for his role in the Biogenesis scandal. Also gone was the now retired all-time great closer Mariano Rivera and starter Andy Pettitte, as well as 2B Robinson Cano, who had signed a huge free agent deal with the Seattle Mariners. SS Derek Jeter was back for what he announced was his last season, and in contrast to the previous year, GM Brian Cashman had received the OK to sign a few players to compensate for the departures and for his team not getting any younger. The big additions were C Brian McCann, OFs Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, 3B Kelly Johnson and 2B Brian Roberts - and especially P Masahiro Tanaka, coming off an unbeaten season in Japan and signed via the posting system.
Just before opening their season against the Houston Astros on the road on April 1st, the Yankees optioned SS Eduardo Nunez, who for a number of years had been considered the heir apparent to Jeter, to the minors, deciding to go with minor leaguer Yangervis Solarte instead. On the good side, both Jeter and 1B Mark Teixeira, who had missed the bulk of the previous season, were in the starting line-up that day, as were off-season acquisitions Ellsbury (CF), Beltran (RF), McCann (C), Roberts (2B) and Johnson (3B), but the Yankees were handed a 6-2 loss by the Astros who thus snapped a 15-game losing streak dating back to the previous year. In fact, the only two players in the opening day line-up who had been there in 2013 were LF Brett Gardner (who had been the starting CF a year ago) and P CC Sabathia, as DH Alfonso Soriano had been a mid-season acquisition. The Yankees then also lost to Houston the next day, 3-1, as they were unable to generate any offense against young Jarred Cosart and the Astros' unheralded bullpen. The team got back to .500 by winning its next two games, but got both good news and bad news on April 4th. On the good side, Tanaka was solid in his first major league start against the Toronto Blue Jays, pitching 7 innings in a 7-3 win after coughing up a homer to the first batter he faced, Melky Cabrera; on the bad side, however, 1B Teixeira had to leave the game in the 2nd inning, having aggravated a hamstring injury and was placed on the disabled list the next day. He was soon followed by P David Robertson, Rivera's replacement as closer, who was the victim of a strained groin while closing out a 6-4 win over Toronto April 6th.
On April 16th, Tanaka and Michael Pineda both kept the Chicago Cubs from scoring and with help from the bullpen, the Yankees recorded a double shutout in sweeping a doubleheader at home, 3-0 and 2-0. It was the first time since June 26, 1988 that a team had managed two whitewashings in one day, the Oakland A's having turned the trick against the Minnesota Twins that day. The last time the Yankees had done so was in 1987.
The Yankees began to suffer from injuries to their starting pitchers quickly, as Pineda was lost for an extended period with a muscle tear in his back in late April, followed by a season-ending knee injury to Sabathia. Tanaka pitched brilliantly for a while and was at 12-4, 2.51 when he in turn went on the DL with an elbow injury that threatened to wipe out his season just before the All-Star break. The Yankees made some moves, including acquiring P Brandon McCarthy in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks and cutting lose veteran Alfonso Soriano, who decided to retire. Because no team was playing particularly well in the AL East, the Yankees were still in the thick of things at the All-Star break, event though their record was an uninspiring 47-47. Given their numerous health issues, they had to decided whether they wanted to make a postseason push or hold back with the trading deadline approaching, and they decided to go all in. On July 22nd, they traded Solarte, who had cooled down after a hot start, and minor league P Rafael De Paula to the San Diego Padres in return for 3B Chase Headley. He was to take over for Kelly Johnson, whose production had been very disappointing in trying to fill Alex Rodriguez's shoes. Headley proved to be an immediate boon, delivering the game-winning hit in the 14th inning in a 201 win over the Texas Rangers on the day of the trade, after only having entered the game in the 9th inning. The Yankees made a couple more trades before deadline, acquiring IF Martin Prado from the Arizona Diamondbacks, and, in a rare trade with their rivals the Boston Red Sox, swapping Kelly Johnson for SS Stephen Drew.
On September 15th, the Yankees were officially eliminated form contention in the AL East following a 1-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, their fourth loss in a five-game stretch; they still had a minuscule chance to win a wild card slot, although realistically, their season was over at that point. Still, they were talking about the likelihood of Tanaka coming back from his mid-season injury to make one or two starts at the end of the year, with only that possibility and the attraction provided by Derek Jeter's last games in pinstripes sustaining fan interest. Tanaka did return on September 21st, with a winning start against the Blue Jays; in that game, OF Brett Gardner hit the 15,000th home run in franchise history, dating back to 1903, the most of any major league team. Tanaka did make a return to the mound on September 21st, when he defeated the Blue Jays, 5-2, but on September 24th, a 9-5 loss to the Orioles officially eliminated the Yanks from postseason contention.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Dellin Betances, Derek Jeter and Masahiro Tanaka
- 2014 Topps All-Star Rookie Team: Dellin Betances (RP) and Masahiro Tanaka (RhP)