If there was one word to describe the 2014 season aside from Derek Jeter‘s retirement tour, it would have to be “disappointment”. The 2014 season was heartbreaking on many levels: Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran were constantly hurt, Brian McCann didn’t hit to his potential for the first four months of the season, the rotation kept suffering injuries and two of the best hitters were the table setters. While the 2014 season was nothing to write home about, on Wednesday we can turn the calendar to a brand new year, which means Spring Training will be just around the corner.
Not only is it a new year, but the roster looks incredibly different: David Robertson went to the Chicago White Sox, Brandon McCarthy went to the Los Angeles Dodgers, there’s no Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez is returning, Chase Headley and Chris Young signed new contracts, Martin Prado and David Phelps were traded to the Miami Marlins, Francisco Cervelli was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Yankees have a new reliever in Andrew Miller. While the new names and faces aren’t as flashy as James Shields or Max Scherzer, they are all helpful contributors in helping the Yankees achieve their goal in reaching the postseason.
Now, there has been some impatience among Yankees fans with the team spending economically this offseason, and with the luxury tax so high, the Yankees are attempting a different approach at winning a World Championship. Do I believe the Yankees as of right now are going to win a World Series? No. But do I believe this team has the potential of being a postseason contending team? Yes…but only if certain factors come into play:
— The Yankees need production out of Teixeira, Beltran and McCann. Teixeira has been on a rapid decline, Beltran was constantly injured last season and McCann wasn’t as productive as in past years although his bat did show up in the last two months of the season. The Yankees are paying these three (and Jacoby Ellsbury) big money to carry this ball club, which means they all need to start playing to their contracts and earning their money.
— Can Masahiro Tanaka stay healthy during the 2015 season? Tanaka currently has a small tear in his elbow and as of right now, the Yankees are expecting him to make all 32 of his starts. If Tanaka’s elbow can hold up and he can pitch effectively, the Yankees have a weapon in the starting rotation.
— CC Sabathia needs to bounce back from his last two abysmal seasons. I’m not expecting Sabathia to go back to his ace from in 2015, but I am expecting him to be reliable starter in the rotation. Following knee surgery, it’s hard to tell if Sabathia’s going to be able to pitch effectively–or at all.
— Could the bullpen survive the loss of Robertson? The team was able to survive the loss of Mariano Rivera, but only because Robertson stepped up and became a dominant closer. With no Robertson in the bullpen, there’s a big amount of uncertainty, especially if Dellin Betances can repeat his rookie performance. If all the arms in the pen step up and pitch the way they’re supposed to, the Yankees could overcome Robertson’s loss.