The 2015 New York Yankees
The New York Yankees have a multitude of questions facing their team for the upcoming 2015 season.
Will the majority of their starters avoid another injury-prone season? How will the team fair without a central leading figure, like the Captain? What will the dynamic be like with Alex Rodriguez back from his suspension? Can Dellin Betances fully take on the pressure of the closer position with David Robertson now out of the picture? However, amidst all of these questions, one thing is certain: the Yankees have the right pieces to the puzzle if they can successfully put them together.
Let us start with pitching. The starting five that the Yankees will send out in April, have the potential to be dominant if they are able to remain healthy. Just last season, ace Masahiro Tanaka appeared to be on track for a 20 plus win season before his injury, settling for a 13-5 win-loss ratio and a 2.77 ERA. Assuming he returns for the 2015 season with the same commanding splitter that baffles hitters on their way back to the dugout, the Yankees might as well assume a win every five games.
Add workhorse CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda with a 1.89 ERA, newcomer Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Capuano, and returning Ivan Nova into the mix, and the rotation is in good shape. Moreover, even though David Robertson is gone, the Yankees are sitting pretty with new late inning reliever Andrew Miller, who had a 2.02 ERA in 61.2 innings last season, and assumed closer Dellin Betances at the end of the game—being that he has the same 1.40 ERA, lights out consistency as last season.
Nevertheless, pitching is not the only aspect of the game and the starting five will need a strong defense behind them. With Derek Jeter gone, at first thought it seems as though there will be a hole in the infield; but let us be honest, as much as we all loved the Captain, he was not as spry as he used to be. The acquisition of the young and speedy 24 year-old Didi Gregorious should pan out well for the team, as he will be given the chance to prove his potential, albeit filling large shoes. In addition, the defense has improved immensely from last year’s starters such as Brian Roberts and Alfonso Soriano who were way past their prime, with the signings of Garret Jones and Chris Young, along with familiar faces Chase Headley and Stephen Drew.
The only puzzle piece remaining is offense. The Bronx Bombers’ power hitters did not live up to their standards last year, with players such as Carlos Beltran ending the season with a dismal .220 batting average. However, it is possible that the fresh face of new hitting coach Jeff Pentland can clean up the mess that Kevin Long left behind and get these players back in the groove. If Teixeira, Beltran, Ellsbury, McCann and even the returning Alex Rodriguez—who is likely to play DH—can bounce back, this lineup has the capability of producing a lot of runs. Also, let us hope that Teixeira, the “gold-gloved glass man”, can resist injury and speed past his early-season hitting production struggles.
However, even with all of the potential positives that the Yankees have for the 2015 season, one has to wonder if the team has more offseason moves up their sleeves. Although it is unlike the Yankees to have not made a huge splash into the offseason pool thus far, there are still a couple of names out there that they can vie for. In terms of pitching, the biggest pitcher remaining in the Hot Stove market right now is James Shields, who had a 3.21 ERA and 14-8 win-loss ratio with the Kansas City Royals last season. Yes, Shields would add even more depth to the Yankees’ already solid rotation, but are the Bombers really in the position to take on another large contract, especially with A-Rod money to worry about?
So, another option that the Yankees could possibly consider is a trade with the Nationals, who may be looking to deal Jordan Zimmermann or Stephen Strasburg, after signing Max Scherzer to a $210 million seven-year contract. However, if the Nationals definitely decide to put two of their star pitchers on the market, who would the Yankees entice them with for a trade? Pitching prospect Luis Severino? Second baseman Rob Refsnyder?
Trading either one of these prospects would not be a good move for the Yankees, especially since the Bombers have found trouble in the past by dealing their highly rated prospects. Take center fielder Austin Jackson, for example. Jackson was the Yankees’ highest rated prospect in 2008, and was traded during the offseason in 2009 to Detroit in a three-team deal, for Curtis Granderson. Jackson not only went on to place second in the 2010 American League Rookie of the Year voting, but also to win the Fielding Bible Award in 2011 as the top fielding center fielder in the MLB. Although the Yankees did not fair terribly with having Curtis Granderson on their team, it seems as though they received the short end of the stick amidst Jackson’s success.
Thus, the Yankees need to learn from their mistakes and hold onto their prospects. If they prove to be worth all of the hype, Severino and Refsynder have the potential to eventually start the beginning of a new farm-grown “Core Four” type group that proved extremely successful for the Yankees in the past. All things considered, the best type of moves that the Yankees still have time to make this offseason, are for utility men that could support their starting players.
Overall, other teams in the AL East are facing problems of their own for the upcoming 2015 season, especially in terms of loss. It will be especially interesting to see how the Red Sox fair without Jon Lester and the Rays without 8-year manager Joe Maddon. So, the lesson to be learned here is that the Yankees need to take their uncertainties with a grain of salt and work hard towards building the best starting lineup that they can for the 2015 season. Even if they do not make any more offseason acquisitions, as it stands right now, if the Yankees can reach their full potential and stay healthy, the team definitely has the skill set needed to compete at a high level and make a run for the postseason.