Sure we all know the obvious storylines in camp such as who is going to win out the final spots in the Yankees rotation, or who is going to win the right field / first base job.
But believe it or not there are five storylines that aren’t quite obvious but are still important to a successful 2017 campaign.
Here are the five storylines as pitchers and catchers report tomorrow:
1. Can Jacoby Ellsbury bounce back and be somewhat worthy of his contract?
Let’s face it, the Jacoby Ellsbury contract was pretty much a disaster the moment the Yankees agreed to sign him for over $150 Million. He hasn’t done much to dazzle the Yankees and instead has created a difficult decision for the Yankees regarding their more productive outfielder Brett Gardner.
With Gardner and Ellsbury back in the fold for 2017, the Yankees have hinted breaking Ellsbury and Gardner up in the order. And if Ellsbury bats lower in the order, could he finally have a successful season? And could he reach base more often without the aid of a catcher’s interference?
2. Can Starlin Castro bounce back from a sabermetrically low season?
For those that don’t dive into the world of sabermetrics, Starlin Castro appeared as if he had a good season. But…he could have done better. Castro had a oWAR of 2.1, which is decent for offense, but when it came to defense, he had a dWAR of -0.3. That would make him one of the worst fielding second basemen in the American League during the 2016 season.
There’s a reason the Cubs traded Castro to the Yankees and ended up winning a World Series. It’s because the Cubs didn’t have faith in Castro defensively. Castro has a chance to turn that around this season and be a solid defender in 2017. Oh, and it’d be great if he could higher his OBP too. .300 for an entire season isn’t really what I’d call acceptable.
3. How will Alex Rodriguez help mentor the youth?
Alex Rodriguez won’t be donning pinstripes for the Yankees this season, but he will be in camp helping the young talent develop their skills. In all honesty, the Yankees chose the perfect person for the job. Rodriguez was a star at the age of 20 and had a long, successful career with the Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and of course, the Yankees.
Now Rodriguez gets to share his talents with the likes of Jorge Mateo, Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres. Rodriguez knows they’re not all going to be successful prospects; some will get traded and some will get hurt. But if Rodriguez can help build a core of players to help the future, then there’s a good chance the acquisitions from the minors could pay off.
4. Will CC Sabathia have a productive final season?
This is CC Sabathia’s final year in Yankees pinstripes, barring the Yankees sign Sabathia to another contract during the 2017 offseason. If it’s not the case, Sabathia will have a chance to end his career in pinstripes on a good note.
Sabathia is one of two remaining Yankees on the roster from the 2009 World Series. Since then, he’s had poor seasons (2013-2015), he’s had brilliant seasons (2009-2012) and he’s had so-so seasons (2016). Sabathia is slated to be in the rotation during his final season with the Yankees, and one hopes he performs well. The Yankees need him to be a workhorse, especially since the final two spots in the rotation are huge question marks.
5. Will Masahiro Tanaka‘s elbow hold up the entire season?
Everyone is wondering whether Masahiro Tanaka will opt out of his contract at the end of the year. But the question that is more interesting is will Tanaka’s elbow hold up for the entire 2017 season.
So far, it has. In fact, he had a dominant year as a Yankee starter in 2016 because his elbow held up. However, the Yankees are still being cautious with Tanaka, which they have every right to be. He might have another strong season and the UCL tear will be in the back of his mind. Or the inevitable could happen and Tanaka would need surgery.