The Top Storylines of 2012

Open Thread: 3/7 Camp Notes
2012 Season Preview: Power Sources

Every season has storylines, some more interesting than others. Last year was all about Jesus Montero‘s arrival, Bartolo Colon‘s resurrection, Mariano Rivera capturing the all-time saves crown, and Derek Jeter‘s pursuit of his 3,000th career hit. We’re unlikely to see any historic milestones in 2012 unless Alex Rodriguez goes bonkers (31 HR away from tying Willie Mays for the fourth most all-time), but there will still be plenty of intriguing storylines to follow this summer.

(REUTERS/Steve Nesius)

Welcome to New York, Michael Pineda
The tabloids have been falling all over themselves looking for ways to criticize Pineda this month, but come April he will be judged how he should be: on his pitching. The young (turned 23 in January) and massive (listed at 6-foot-7, 270-ish lbs.) right-hander was acquired from the Mariners to add a powerful, high-upside arm to the rotation for the next half-decade. That Montero went the other way in the trade will only make the scrutiny more intense. Pineda is working on his changeup, and every five days he’ll be under that intense New York microscope.

Ivan Nova‘s Encore
Phil Hughes was supposed to be the young homegrown starter who took the big step forward last year, but instead it was Nova. He was dynamite down the stretch after a brief and mostly undeserved trip to the minors, stepping in as the team’s number two starter behind CC Sabathia in the playoffs. He got some Rookie of the Year love and doesn’t have to worry about winning a rotation spot in camp this year, but now comes the hard part: getting better. The perfect world scenario has Pineda and Nova emerging side-by-side over the next few seasons.

Hughes’ Last Chance
The competition for the fifth starter’s job is apparently rigged in Hughes’ favor, possibly his last chance to make his mark as a starter in pinstripes. Injury and ineffectiveness sabotaged his 2011 season, and he didn’t do himself any favors by reporting to camp in less than ideal shape. Hughes rededicated himself to conditioning this offseason and by all accounts has been impressive early in camp. That and $2.25 will get him on the subway. Now just two years away from free agency, results are what matters.

(REUTERS/Scott Audette)

Mark Teixeira‘s Uppercut
It must be nice when a 39 homers and a .361 wOBA constitute a disappointing season, but that’s exactly what happened to Tex last year. He admits to altering his left-handed swing in an effort to take advantage of Yankee Stadium‘s short right field porch over the last few years, and says he’s working to correct the problem. His power numbers, walk rate, strikeout rate, and production as a right-handed batter haven’t suffered at all during the last two seasons, so it’s just a matter of shedding that uppercut and getting back to the line drive approach that made him one of the game’s elite hitters. Easier said than done, obviously.

The End of the Line
We haven’t gotten official word yet, but there are strong indications that Mariano Rivera will call it a career after 2012. He says he’s made a decision about his future and nothing will change his mind, not saving a ton of games or being offered a ton of money, and that seems like a really weird thing to say if he was planning on coming back for another season(s). Mo has spoiled the Yankees and their fans for the last 16 years now, and the possibility of not having him around in the ninth inning is scary. Enjoying 2012 as if it will be his final go ’round will be bittersweet.

* * *

I think those are the five most intriguing storylines of 2012, but there are certainly plenty of others worth following. There’s A-Rod‘s health (a perpetual storyline), David Robertson‘s follow-up to his insane season, Hiroki Kuroda‘s transition to the AL East, contract pushes by Nick Swisher and Russell Martin, and potential MVP pushes by Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson. Which one interests you the most?

Which 2012 storyline interests you the most?
Total Votes: 1362 Started: March 6, 2012 Back to Vote Screen
Open Thread: 3/7 Camp Notes
2012 Season Preview: Power Sources
  •!/joshfortunatus joshfortunatus

    What would it have taken to get Pineda without Montero, however unlikely that is?

    • Mike Axisa

      I don’t think they could have gotten him — or any young pitcher — without including Montero. Seattle wanted an elite young bat, and the Yankees only had one to offer.

      • CJ

        Agreed. No way to get Pineda without Montero. Whatever happens, it’s as fair as a deal can get.

      • DM

        I’m surprised Pineda was available at all — even for a Montero+ package.

  • Cris Pengiucci

    While these are all sideline stories I’ll be watching to a lesser extent, the only story I really care about is the persuit of the next WS Championship.

    Of the ones listed above, the one I’ll follow most closely is Mo’s retirement announcement or his announcement that he intends to play again next season.

  • GardnergoesYardner

    I think in addition to these, Jeter’s season is a mjor storyline b/c people will want evidence that 2nd half 2011 was no fluke, and if he has a poor first half, it could start getting ugly regarding his spot in the order/ his playing time.

    Also, I would like to see the team hit less homers but be better in clutch situations. The too many homers thing is nice, but when ARod and Tex are hitting below average in key spots because they’re trying for an extra base hit rather than a single, then it gets painful. Game 5 was one of the most annoying games I’ve ever watched.

    Of course, hitting lots of HR’s AND getting the clutch, smaller hits would be great.

    I have a great feeling about this year. This is the best I’ve felt since 2nd half 2009. I can feel another legendary summer in the Bronx coming up.

  • Jesse

    I’m torn between two choices: Pineda’s arrival and Mariano’s potential final season.

    • Mike Axisa

      I voted for Pineda and regret not voting for Mo after thinking about it.

      • Jesse

        That’s what I ended up doing.

      • LarryM.,Fl.

        I did not vote for Mo but I will watch intently every appearance and pitch because I missed my first idol Mickey Mantle leave the game and I did not notice. Obviously being 18 years old and busy with life,school and sports it happens but now retired I have the opportunity to watch Mo, Jeter and Arod close it out.

    • thenamestsam

      I was as well but went with Pineda because the Mo storyline doesn’t have much potential to evolve. We will all spend a lot of time wondering about it, and then he’ll announce it one way or the other and then presuming he decides to retire there will be a ton of emotion involved in that but we basically already know how the story goes. All the pieces that will be written about Mo 6 months from now could be written today and then posted in 6 months. The Pineda one is more interesting to me because it could go in vastly different directions. I have no idea what we’re going to be saying or thinking about that 6 months from now.

  • Gonzo

    +1 for this woman’s… assets on the ad showing right now.

    They’ve come a long way since the shocking meat expose ads.

    • LiterallyFigurative

      +100 for your +1

  • Mike HC

    I went with Pineda over Mo just due to the surprise factor.

    With Mo, you know he is going to dominant all year, save the final game of the WS, and ride off into the sunset.

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    I seem to be in the minority with Teix.’s upper cut swing being revamped which is OK. The other story lines are very important for the team in wins and playoff contention and emotion with Mo but I can deal with a young pitcher making 500K struggling to find himself with Pineda and Nova becuase their young and talented. I have always been and advocate of younger players getting a shot. Hughes, I want him to succeed. He’s a Yankee and I’m a Yankee fan. It’s simple deduction. Mo is MO. It will be in his time at his choosing.

    My choice of Teix. being the big story is just as simple. This guy can put some numbers on the board. His inability to go the other way whether it was mental or physical was frustrating. With this lineup and its ability to hit could be unstoppable for the most part if Teix. can solidify the the fifth spot behind Alex. The pitcher can not fool around and has to give Alex fastballs or pitches in the zone to hit. It could be quite enjoyable to watch from the offense side. We can get away with decent pitching from our young guys if the offense is solid. Teix. hitting it where its pitched would go a long way to making it happen. I know pitching is king but when a team can smash its fun to watch and the pitchers can get it done with some comfort. Don’t forget we have a bullpen which can make most games 6 inning contest so to speak.

  • LiterallyFigurative

    I voted for Ivan Nova in the poll. I know it’s not the headline grabber, but I want to see a young Yankee from the system be consistently good as a starter on the Yankees. If he has the staying power (and can avoid Hughes-like injury issues), Nova can be a good top to mid rotation guy. You’d pay 10+ million a year for Nova’s production on the market if he were a free agent, so to pay him minimum wage is such a bargain.

    Nova, Pineda and Romine are very important to the austerity plan for 2014.

  • Reggie C.

    Chose Pineda’s arrival over the field. I’m confident that a healthy Pineda can be very good from the start. If Pineda turns out to be as good as Josh Beckett has been with the RS, i’ll wager that most fans will look on the Pineda acquisition favorably. For me, Its being witness to that kind of upside that makes Pineda a must watch for 2012.

  • vin

    I voted for Nova… here’s why:

    The Mo storyline will be just too damn sad. Although I strongly considered picking it.

    I also considered picking the Pineda storyline, but I honestly expect him to peform quite well in pinstripes – and I do have tempered, realistic expectations. The “storyline” side of things will be largely media driven, and I can’t stand that. He’s fresh meat for the likes of Matthews, Sherman and Heyman, and I’d rather not be an onlooker.

    Teixeira… eh. I’d love for him to get better from the left side, but he’s still a valuable player based on his power, ability to hit from the right side, and defense.

    Hughes is very intriguing, but I think we’ve seen Phil’s ceiling (early 2010).

    Nova, on the otherhand, can and should get better with the development of his slider. If he can get a couple more swings and misses with the slider, he has the potential to be a Matt Cain type starter. If Nova can continue his development, then the Yanks will have a rock-solid 1-3 with CC and Pineda. That’s why I’ll be keeping a close eye on that storyline.

  • Jim Is Bored

    Voted for Mo. He’s been a part of the Yanks since I started paying real attention at age 8.

    It’s gonna be very bittersweet watching his last season, whether that’s this year or next. All the other things will fade, but my memories of Mo won’t.

  • LiterallyFigurative

    Also does A-Rod have to go BONKERS to hit 31 HR, or just stay healthy? I think 130-40 games of Alex should produce 31 HR’s.

  • CJ

    I say welcome Pineda and return of ARod are the biggest stories.

  • Drew

    I voted for Hughes, seeing as he has been here a while and see if he can finally live up to the hype that has followed him.

    I would have voted for Mariano’s retirement, but its just speculation at this point. If it was definite, I would have chosen Mariano in a heartbeat.

  • aluis

    I voted OTHER simply due to the reason “as A-Rod goes so does the Yankees” (see 2009).

  • jon

    The subway is $2.25??!!?? A lot has changed since I left in ’99!

  • Slip

    I voted other simply because the only real story is the WORLD SERIES