As we count down to Opening Day, Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand will answer 14 for '14 -- the top 14 questions facing the 2014 New York Yankees.
Question: Who is the most important Yankee?
Andrew Marchand: Mark Teixeira is the most irreplaceable Yankee, which makes him the most important. If Derek Jeter goes down, a healthy Brendan Ryan could provide better defense. If a starter goes down -- even CC Sabathia -- the Yankees have some depth. If they lost a starting outfielder, well, the Yankees have plenty of outfielders. If David Robertson were to get hurt ... hmm, Robertson seems pretty irreplaceable, too.
Still, my choice is Teixeira because not only can they not replace him, but they need him to be a 30-100 guy to really make this lineup potent. If healthy, the Yankees can pretty much count on Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Brett Gardner to produce. Teixeira, on the other hand, is more of a wild card after he played just 15 games in 2013. That leaves him as the MIY.
Wallace Matthews: There's only one MIY this season, and it's the one you will be hearing about every single day from now until the Yankees make their final out: Derek Jeter.
This is The Year of the Captain, and as Jeter goes, so will the Yankees. And as always with Jeter, that isn't always measurable by the numbers. Jeter is going to be feted in every road city this season, cheered in normally hostile ballparks, and given the sendoff he deserves after a stellar 20-year career in baseball.
How he handles all of that attention, and the example he sets for the rest of this team, will go a long way to determining where the Yankees finish this season. I'm not much into the rah-rah aspect of pro sports, but Jeter is one of those rare athletes who can inspire teammates to do better simply by the way he plays and carries himself.
Assuming he stays healthy, I expect Jeter to be at his best this season, and his team will do what it has always done: Follow his example.