The Indians head back to Cleveland today for the home opener at Progressive Field, and the New York Yankees will be waiting for them as the Tribe kicks off a four-game series with the Bombers. So I talked to Yanks Go Yard Editor Jason Evans about the Yankees’ chances this year, Robinson Cano‘s long-term prospects in the organization, and the return of Travis Hafner.
Wahoo’s on First: The AL East seems wide open this year but there’s been some talk of New York finishing as low as last place. Where do you see the Yankees finishing in 2013?
Jason Evans: Even with the Yankee injuries, I still see them finishing third and facing the jays in the wild card game. I feel like they can tread water for the first six weeks as long as they can pitch well. If the pitching continues to falter they don’t have a chance.
Wahoo’s on First: There’s been a lot of talk about whether the Yankees will be able to lock up Robinson Cano long-term. How much would you be willing to give him to stay in New York?
Jason Evans: If I am Brian Cashman, I would give Cano seven years at $27 million per, the highest AAV for his position ever. It rewards him for being the best player at his position. He transitions into being the face of the franchise as Derek Jeter enters his last couple of years and for the Yankees they dont pay him past being 37-38 years old unlike the contract for Alex Rodriguez.
Wahoo’s on First: Longtime Indian Travis Hafner is now suiting up in pinstripes. What do you expect to see from Pronk in 2013? And more importantly, do New York fans know to call him Pronk?
Jason Evans: I don’t expect Pronk to do what he did in years past. I wasn’t expecting a lot to begin with and the injuries don’t change that. If he can come close to what Raul Ibanez did last year it would be a huge boost. Considering John Sterling used pronk in his home run call I think the fans know.
Wahoo’s on First: What small-sample irregularities are Yankees fans most overreacting to after the first week of the season?
Jason Evans: It’s New York. All small samples are overreacted to. Ithink the pitching will even out. The ERA wont be over six for the year and as the weather warms up the pitching will too.
Wahoo’s on First: Who’s pitching for the Yankees this week, and what should Tribe fans look for from them?
Jason Evans: Tribe fans will see all the Yankee starters but CC Sabathia.
Hiroki Kuroda: Have to see how he’s controlling the ball coming off the finger injury. He attacks the hitters with the fastball.
Andy Pettitte: cutters into righties, changing speeds, keeping the ball down. Two pitches early then adds the change late.
Ivan Nova: I think the thing to watch with Nova is control and if he can keep the ball down. If not, Indians are in good shape.
Phil Hughes: just really building arm strength right now. Just coming off injury. Really important for him to get the curve over for strikes
Wahoo’s on First: What’s your prediction for the series?
Jason Evans: I say a split of the four gamer.