For a 22-year-old Yankees fan, seeing what this franchise has become is almost inconceivable.
For the first 20 years of my life, watching the Yankees in the postseason was all I ever knew, and after missing the playoffs in 2013 and 2014, and losing in that silly one-game playoff last season, it doesn’t appear things are about to change this season.
The question marks are too plentiful, the uncertainties are too great for the 2016 Yankees to get back on the winning track. So much has to go right and so little has to go wrong that winning a record 28th championship just doesn’t seem plausible.
The most glaring uncertainty surrounding the Yankees is without a doubt the starting rotation. Until Masahiro Tanaka finally undergoes that dreaded Tommy John surgery to fix the partially torn UCL in his right elbow, there’s no reason for anyone in the organization to believe Tanaka can return to his pre-2014 All-Star game form.
It’s one of those things that seemingly isn’t ever going to go away. After every pitch, after every start, the health and stability of Tanaka’s tender right elbow will always be a forefront issue in the Bronx.
Behind Tanaka, there’s Nathan Eovaldi who was pitching like an ace through the end of August but ended up having to be shut down for the rest of the season due to elbow inflammation.
Eovaldi has some of the nastiest stuff in the game and when on is almost unhittable, but he’s far from a sure thing.
No one knows how Luis Severino will perform as the 22-year-old enters his first full big-league season. Michael Pineda has never shown he can put a consistent season together, and then there’s CC Sabathia who the Yankees know will not come close to living up to his $23 million salary for this season.
Then there’s the offense which has plenty of its own question marks. There’s no reason to believe Jacoby Ellsbury will finally put a full season together (I know I’ve lost all hope), and Joe Girardi is already showing his lack on confidence in Brett Gardner by benching him for opening day against a lefty starter.
Mark Teixeira will be 36 in a few days and is not getting any younger. Alex Rodriguez shocked the world with his performance last season, but fell off hard late and is now entering his first full season in his 40s. Spring training stats mean next to nothing, but seeing A-Rod hit a home run in his first spring at-bat and then not do it again is a bit of a red flag.
Carlos Beltran will be 39 at the end of April and hasn’t come close to living up to his contract.
A contract the Yankees quietly probably seriously regret is the four-years and $50 million they gave to Chase Headley prior to last season with the hopes he could show signs of the MVP-caliber 2012 season he had in San Diego, but that is a major pipe dream nowadays.
Brian McCann is the clear rock of the offense, and might be the most indispensable hitter on the team.
And then there’s the light hitting Didi Gregorious who let’s face it is no Derek Jeter, and Starlin Castro.
The clear strength of the team is the back-end of the bullpen, but the Yankees might have a lot of problems securing the bridge to the three-headed monster of Chapman, Betances, and Miller.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t say I have very much faith in Johnny Barbato, Luis Cessa, Kirby Yates, and Chasen Shreve to get big outs when called upon.
If the Yankees are going to be successful in 2016, the key stat will be how often the Yanks lead after six-innings. Book it now.
Unfortunately, I don’t see the Yankees getting back to their winning ways this season and picture the Bombers finishing the season a disappointing 83-79.
Who’s ready for some New York Yankees baseball?? (I know people with Comcast aren’t because they can’t watch!)