SPANISH HARLEM, NY – Opening Day Baseball is just a few days away (Sunday, April 2nd) and many teams around the league feel this will be their year. The New York Yankees won’t be one of those teams, though, and that’s something fans will have to get used to this season. Usually the Yankees brass and manager Joe Girardi go into every season believing they have what it takes to compete for a championship, and while many believe they will compete – no one believes it will be for a championship.
The Bronx Bombers will have one of the youngest teams my generation of fans has ever seen. For the team to be good, many things will have to happen over the course of the season to reach their full potential. They may not put it all together this season but the foundation could be laid for the future. Today I will talk about the 3 most important areas the Yankees need to improve this season for it to be a success, with or without a playoff appearance.
1. Development – The most important development the Yankees want to see will be from Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird. We all know what Sanchez did last year and what Bird did the year before that, but the question will be asked: “Can they duplicate that production, day in and day out, over a full season?” They both achieved a great amount of success when called up but many fans have seen this before from players like Kevin Maas and Shane Spencer, only to realize that they were decent players who got hot for a couple months. So far this spring, Sanchez and Bird have shown that they have what it takes to be great players – and that bodes well for Girardi and the offense.
The Yankees have great depth in the minor leagues “talent wise” but having them succeed in every level is a key component that will determine whether this team has what it takes to sustain any success in the coming years. Some of their young stars will play a role and some will be used as trade bait for a missing piece when needed. Either way, the more players they can develop, the more successful the Pinstripes will be.
2. Pitching – I could of included this above but I want it to have its own category because everyone knows pitching wins championships. This season the Yankees have 5 uncertainties on their staff and that includes the ace, Masahiro Tanaka, who could go down to injury at any moment. There is not much you can trust from this group and that’s putting it nicely. That’s why it’s important for pitchers like Jordan Montgomery, James Kaprielian, and Justus Sheffield to take that next step and get better. They will be depended on at some point this season or the next, and the less holes you have in the rotation, the less GM Brian Cashman will shell out on free agent pitchers.
3. Win – I’m sure every team wants to win but in Yankee Land that means Championships. Winning games and making the playoffs are two different things, as we have seen with the Yankees the last two seasons. The Bombers have continued to win but not enough to make the playoffs and that’s not necessarily a bad thing for the Yankees this season. I’m sure all the guys want to make the playoffs but if they can churn out another winning season, I think it will do wonders for their confidence, now and in the future. If they can prove they can compete with the very best teams, it won’t be long before this organization contends for a championship again.
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