<
>

GM: 'Closer to 80 wins,' Yanks need Tanaka

Alex Rodriguez doesn't really matter. When you look at how good the Yankees are going to be in 2014, A-Rod doesn't help that much. Over the past three years, he only played 88 games because of injury. His "gummy-aided" numbers were actually better than most third basemen, but still not great.

So, yes, the Yankees don't really have anyone to replace A-Rod who can make you feel confident. Kelly Johnson, Eduardo Nunez and Dean Anna are the third basemen on the 40-man, while Scott Sizemore and Yangervis Solarte are under minor league contracts.

At second, the Yankees have the injury-prone Brian Roberts, Anna and maybe Johnson or Sizemore. At short and first, two stars (Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira) are coming back from serious injuries.

"What they have now is closer to 80 wins than 90 wins," one NL general manager said.

The GM liked what the Yankees did with their checkbook so far, upgrading at catcher with Brian McCann and in the outfield with Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, but the pitching still has question marks, making this GM believe the Yankees will make sure to sign Masahiro Tanaka.

"I'd guess the Yankees," the GM said when asked who he thinks will win the sweepstakes.

The Yankees have improved, but their infield -- which in recent vintage years has been a major strength -- has nothing definite about it. The starting staff is led by three pitchers (CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova) who are not sure things for various reasons. After that, from Michael Pineda, David Phelps, Vidal Nuno and Adam Warren, the Yankees will need to find some strong innings.

The bullpen is unsettled with David Robertson set to take Mariano Rivera's place. Grant Balfour is still out there and could be a fit, adding a proven closer and keeping Robertson in the eighth inning. If not, Robertson will be supported by Matt Thornton, Shawn Kelley and Preston Claiborne.

The Yankees are trying to spend their way back to the top -- but, at least according to one GM, they need take out their wallet one more time.

QUESTION: How many wins do you think these Yankees have in them?