For the first time since the days of the glam metal bands and when the Paula Abduls and Madonnas were relevant, there is real uncertainty revolving around the Yankees organization. As us Yankee fans know, we have drastically fallen to mediocrity the past two seasons and the Vegas bookies have finally caught up to that notion, projecting the Yankees to win only 82 games. Now I can’t remember the last time the Yankees won 82 games or less in a season, but you would have to go all the way back to 1992. For all of you whom don’t remember, America gave us Bill Clinton that year. As a diehard fan of course I have my doubts and there is concern but looking at recent history and other factors, I will tell you why the Yankees will win more than 82 games.
THE CURRENT STATE OF THE AL EAST IS LIKE KISSING YOUR SISTER
This division is a shell of its once fine self, it’s like the girl who peaked in high school and is now struggling to keep away from McDonald’s. This division is so not intimidating; the Yankees will win more than 82 games. I know the Sox fans will hate me for this but their beloved team just signed two new players to stuff their faces full of cheese burgers with Big Papi. Did you all see the spring training pictures? Pablo Sandoval is three biscuits away from being misidentified as Rhino offspring and I don’t know what happened to Hanley, it looks like he’s 7 months pregnant with triplets. On top of that Hanley will be playing left field, now if you listen to many players who have signed with the Red Sox or recently been acquired by trade, it takes some time getting used to the green monster. A pregnant looking Hanley may struggle in left field to say it politely. The Red Sox are also into hording their prospects even though most will not be playing for the franchise, for the life of me, I don’t get why they haven’t traded for Hamels. Does anyone think a pitching staff with a bunch of three and four starters is going to scare any lineup? Just put it this way, Rick Porcello may be their most accomplished starter.
The Baltimore Orioles believe it or not have the most wins in the AL East the past three seasons. They are the only team to make it to the post season the last two out of three seasons, for some reason though, players consistently leave their team. I’ve sat in Camden many a times and it may be the nicest park in the country. It is the first of its kind and mind boggling why players would want to leave. This season alone Nelson Cruz, team leader Nick Markakis and set up man Andrew Miller all jumped ship. Not many teams can sustain those types of losses especially when a player like Cruz who led the majors in homeruns is taken out of the lineup. Now I know many of you can say Wieters, Machado and Davis will be back for the start of the 2016 season, but it takes time to play at your best from serious injuries. If anyone saw Chris Davis play last year, it was utterly embarrassing; he became an albatross, an automatic out. His meager .704 OPS which was below league average and abysmal batting average of .196 made Chris Davis one of the worst starting first basemen in the major leagues. By the way, is the Orioles general manager ever going to upgrade the staff, if they had a legit ace in any of these past few seasons, it wouldn’t have been a stretch to say they were World Series contenders. The fact that Miguel Gonzalez is still in the staff, will automatically give the Yankees a chance to win more than 82 games.
The Toronto Blue Jays on paper have the best offense in the AL East and maybe the major leagues. The acquisition of Josh Donaldson may have also given them the best 3-4-5 batting order in the major leagues as well. Like the Orioles, the Blue Jays also did very little to upgrade their pitching. Russell Martin was also a big acquisition but was overly paid. For the contract he got I’d expect the Blue Jay fans to be disappointed, he is a great leader and a tremendous defensive catcher but not a player that can win you a division title. The loss of talented right hander and Long Island’s own Marcus Stroman is a major blow. Drew Hutchinson seems to be the undisputed ace of the team but as we know offense doesn’t win you championship especially the dominant pitching baseball has seen since the steroid era. The Blue Jays are no different of a threat then they have been the last five seasons, great offense but their pitching leaves less to desire. I am not even going to waste my time with the Tampa Rays, yes they have a sneaky good staff led by Alex Cobb but they may be the first team to score negative runs per game. Obviously I am joking but Evan Longoria, you are screwed. They will absolutely be in the basement of this division.
THE YANKEES DEFENSE AND POWER ARMS WILL BE THE BEST ASSET OF THE TEAM AND THE BEST THEY’VE HAD IN A FEW YEARS
We all love Derek Jeter and even in his retirement he remains the face of baseball. He may be the first player unanimously voted into the Hall- Of- Fame; I say may because there is always that clown writer from Minnesota or some state that will refuse to vote a guy in for the principle of not having a player in unanimously. Where I was getting at is that Jeter’s defense and his range going up the middle hurt the Yankees. It wasn’t his fault just father time took over. What the acquisition of Didi Gregorius did was put one of the best defensive short stops in the game according to sabermetrics on the Yankees roster. To give you sabermetric nut-hugging nerds some satisfaction, the Yankees will be much better at preventing runs. It also seems Chase Headley forgot how to hit after his break out year in 2012 but he can pick it at third base. It’s some of the best we’ve seen in a Yankee uniform at that position in a while. A-Roid was always too busy caring about himself, dating women more jacked then himself and juicing like it’s a vital necessity. The left side of the infield will save the Yankees runs and they’ve gotten more athletic in both positions, it is just a plus for a group of pitchers that has the potential to be overpowering.
As a fan I don’t think the Yankees have had a group of arms like this in recent memory. Everyone talks about the two headed monster of Miller and Betances but the acquisitions of righty David Carpenter and lefty Justin Wilson were sneaky and shrewd. Both can bring it as well, the four together bring a right lefty combination with swing and miss stuff. I know you sabermetrics hermits don’t care about strikeouts, but it’s an out and it still prevents the opponent from making contact. I expect the Yankees to have the best bullpen in the AL East and if given a lead they will close out games more often than not. I know the Yankees have many question marks in the starting rotation mainly due to injuries; they still have guys who can strike people out. Nathan Eovaldi was acquired for all of a sudden fans favorite Martin Prado during the offseason and he can bring it. He was one of the league leaders in average fastball speed, an arm the Yankees haven’t had in the starting rotation in a while. If he can figure out his secondary pitches, the AL East should be worried. Not only do the Yankees have Eovaldi, Michael Pineda seems primed to become one of the best right handers in the American League. I won’t go as far as Andrew Marchand and say he’s the best pitcher in New York, I know I would have Mets fans crying for days on that, but Pineda has fantastic stuff and his control and mechanics are excellent for a large human being. The Yankees do have serious question marks on their staff especially with Tanaka and Sabathia. Ifboth are as healthy and as good as shape as they say they are, the Yankees could have one of the best starting rotations in the league. I am not going to dive into Tanaka’s numbers but before his injury he was a CY Young favorite. If his elbow can hold up the Yankees make the bookies in Vegas foolish.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST, THE INJURY BUG WON’T INFECT THE YANKEES FOR A THIRD STRAIGHT SEASON.
This is going to be short and sweet. I am going out on a limb here and this may be petty but the probability of the Yankees getting ravaged be injury three seasons in a row is highly unlikely. If you remember last year the Yankees top four starting pitchers went down with catastrophic injuries, now call me crazy but that is awful luck, I just don’t see that happening again. Even with their position players like Beltran, who came off a wonderful year with the Cardinals then destroys his elbow. I know Beltran isn’t getting any younger but he’s proved us wrong in the past, we all thought he was done in his final season with the Mets but yet throws himself in the hall-of-fame discussion. This season he may actually be our most important hitter and if he is as good as he was just over a year ago with the Cardinals, the Yankees will win more than 82 games.
P.S. – I hate predicting records and where teams will end up but something tells me the Yankees being irrelevant and under the radar is a good thing. Also count me in, I think A-Roid will surprise people and be a major contributor to this Yankee team.