With Spring Training games set to commence on Friday, the Yankees are one step closer to beginning their 2018 season. But with the excitement and optimism, there is also skepticism and realism. There are roles that have yet to be established, and there are question marks about certain players.
What’s Going On In The Outfield?
While there is a saying that there’s no such thing as too much depth, the Yankees actually have too much depth in the outfield. For a while, the Yankees toyed with the idea of possibly trading some of their outfielders, but ultimately decided against it as the offseason went on. Coming into Spring Training there are six outfielders competing for three spots; Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, Giancarlo Stanton, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Clint Frazier.
Some like Judge, Gardner, Hicks, and Stanton already have a job lined up to begin the season. However, Ellsbury and Frazier are currently on the outside looking in, and are slated to start the year either on the bench (Ellsbury) or in Triple-A (Frazier). Anything can happen with the outfield situation, and sometimes things tend to work themselves out. But for now, there are too many outfielders and not enough jobs.
Is The Starting Rotation Good Enough?
The only addition the Yankees made to the starting rotation was a one-year contract for lefty CC Sabathia. However, many don’t count it as an official move since Sabathia was in the rotation last season. Barring injury, the Yankees are entering the 2018 season with the same rotation as last year; Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sabathia, Sonny Gray, and Jordan Montgomery.
In the postseason, the rotation propelled the Yankees to the ALCS. Unfortunately, the success the rotation had isn’t guaranteed to be replicated this season.
- Sabathia has a knee issue which will be a problem when the Yankees play on turf.
- Tanaka still has the UCL tear in his elbow, and is coming off a poor regular season.
- Gray was inconsistent in giving the Yankees length, and was a victim of no run support.
- Severino struggled during the postseason, especially during the Wild Card game.
- Montgomery mentioned he was lucky to have the success he did without his changeup.
The Yankees rotation is certainly talented enough to compete with the rest of the American League East, but it still remains to be seen if they’ll be dominant or healthy all season long.
Can Greg Bird Stay Healthy?
Greg Bird is slated to be the starting first baseman for the Yankees this year. However, the team is expecting Bird to stay healthy for the entire season. It’s crucial Bird stays healthy this year because there’s not a lot of first base depth should he go down with an injury.
There would have been a bit of veteran depth if the Yankees didn’t trade Chase Headley to the San Diego Padres. But the only names behind Bird at this point are Tyler Austin, Brandon Drury, and Austin Romine.
What About The Middle Infield?
With the Yankees trading away Starlin Castro and Headley, they currently have a hole at second and third base. Prior to camp, most assumed the Yankees would give Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres a chance at playing second and third. However, the Yankees hinted Andujar and Torres weren’t quite ready yet by signing Danny Espinosa to a Minor League contract, and engaging in a three-way trade with the Tampa Bay Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks for Drury.
The Yankees possibly view Drury as the best option at third, and he does provide the Yankees with Major League experience; he played 135 games last season, and 134 games the year prior. Plus if Andujar and Torres need to start the year at Triple-A, Drury could be the perfect short-term option.
Can Dellin Betances Find Consistency?
When Dellin Betances is dominant, he’s easily one of the best relievers in baseball. But when Betances struggles, it’s an issue for the rest of the Yankees bullpen because it increases everyone else’s workload. Last season, Betances had months where he dazzled (April, May, and August), and months where he wouldn’t have been the first option out of the Yankees bullpen in a do-or-die situation (June, July, September, and October).
The season is long and draining, and it’s understandable Betances will have blips every now and again. However, the Yankees need him to be reliable 95% of the time. It would be unfortunate if it’s September and David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Chad Green, and Aroldis Chapman are all taxed out because Betances can’t find consistency with his curveball.
Is This Brett Gardner’s Swan Song In Pinstripes?
Since 2008, Brett Gardner has been a fixture in the Yankees clubhouse. The team even gave him a rare contract extension four seasons ago. However, Gardner is in the final year of that deal, which leaves many wondering if this is his final season in Yankees pinstripes.
There’s a possibility it isn’t his last year; Gardner has a team option for 2019, but it isn’t a given that the Yankees will exercise it. The Yankees have outfielders who currently have Major League potential such as Clint Frazier, and with Jacoby Ellsbury still on the books for a few more years, there is the possibility the Yankees will let Gardner test the free agent market.
How Will The Team Adjust To A New Manager?
During Joe Girardi‘s ten-year tenure, he led the Yankees to a World Series championship and a few postseason berths. But following the Yankees ALCS exit in 2017, the organization felt it was best to part ways with the former skipper. However, it didn’t take long for Girardi to find a new job; he currently has a new gig as an analyst for the MLB Network.
Finding Girardi’s replacement was a tedious task, but the Yankees eventually settled on Aaron Boone, who was still involved in baseball following his retirement in 2009. This is the first managerial job of any kind for Boone, but the Yankees instilled faith in him because of his baseball background; his father Bob Boone was a catcher and manager, and his brother Bret Boone was a second baseman. While Boone has the baseball smarts, there is curiosity on how he will bond with his current team. So far, he’s been seen golfing with Aaron Hicks, and he’s also bonded a bit with catcher Gary Sanchez.
The Yankees wanted a manager who not only bonded with the veterans, but also with the up-and-coming kids. And so far he seems to be doing just that.