Competing and rebuilding, the 2017 New York Yankees have plenty of questions. Luckily, one doesn’t have to wait much longer to find out the answers. Below are five important questions surrounding the squad on the eve of the regular season.
5. Where’s the Outfield Power?
The returning outfielders from the Yankees 2016 Opening Day roster, Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Aaron Hicks combined for 24 home runs. Maybe, Gardner, another year removed from a wrist injury has more pop, Ellsbury in the five spot provides more thump and Hicks with regular at-bats drives the ball more. With Aaron Judge slated to start in right field, the Yankees hope he’ll provide power from the corner.
4. Will They Trust the Kids?
Following last spring training, the Yankees demoted Gary Sanchez to Triple-A. Eventually, the club decided to hand the reins over to the kids. This season it’s a mixed bag, opting to go with Judge on the one hand instead of Hicks, but going with Ronald Torreyes, Pete Kozma and Chase Headley instead of Tyler Wade and Gleyber Torres. Understandably, the latter two haven’t played above Double-A but could be in the conversation down the line.
3. Which Starting Pitchers Step Up?
Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda could be pitching for big money. CC Sabathia could be pitching for a job. The rest of the kids are trying to establish themselves. Luis Severino, Bryan Mitchell, Jordan Montgomery, etc., don’t have to be off the charts but they have to provide consistency. The Yankees have developed plenty of middle to late inning relievers, it’s time for some young starters to emerge.
2. Will Dellin Betances Finish the Season a Yankee?
He’s an All-Star, popular player and a hometown favorite. Yet, one wonders if the contentious arbitration hearing, coupled with what the Yankees hauled in last season near the deadline with Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller if they try to deal Betances for a major package? With Chapman the anointed closer and a deep pool of relievers, perhaps Betances gets flipped for a starter at some point.
1. Can Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird Be Immediate Cornerstones?
We saw glimpses of what Sanchez and Bird were capable of at the end of 2016 and 2015 respectively. Now, we’ll see if the two can boost the Yankees’ playoff prospects with a full high-level campaign. If both can lead the charge from high in the Yankees order, they may alter the entire complexion of the 2017 season.