Coming off a week that saw them shore up their offseason moves with arguably the highest profile "free agent" signing of the period, Masahiro Tanaka, the New York Yankees are now looking forward to the start of the 2014 season.
|Photo by: Danny Moloshok|
Needless to say, changes were needed.
New York's offense was putrid much of last year, and the rotation suffered with ace CC Sabathia struggling all season long. So where do the Yankees go from here? What should the expectations be in the Big Apple in light of the turmoil still hovering around fallen superstar Alex Rodriguez, coupled with the bigger losses of Robinson Cano, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera?
There are plenty of reasons for Yankee faithful to be thinking turnaround this year. For starters, it's not like the Bronx Bombers weren't ravaged by injuries last season. Granted, all teams deal with the pesky injury bug, but what New York had to endure was bordering on insane. The offseason acquisitions have been very good and should address the offense, and potentially bring the starting rotation up to a point where it can hang with the Boston's and Detroit's of the league.
All that may not be enough, though.
Tampa, it seems, can't help but win these days, in spite of the fact that they consistently lose big name players in free agency and cannot get fans interested enough in coming out to the park for even a free game. The Red Sox lost some in the offseason, but not that much, and the major spots are still looking good for them. I find it hard to imagine the Yankees winning the AL East this season ahead of either of these teams, which leaves them fighting for a wildcard spot, and at least one of the aforementioned clubs will probably be standing in their way of that.
The Yankees may enter the season with high hopes, but they will now face what almost every other team in the league knows to be a truth; how fickle closers tend to be. Mariano was an incredible exception to this rule, and undoubtedly spoiled Yankee fans. David Robertson may or may not work out, but one thing is a pretty safe bet; he's no Mariano Rivera. This, along with the fact that Masahiro has never thrown a pitch at the big league level, might mean the Yankees will have to depend on an offense that is, as of now, unproven.
It's anyone's guess how that could turn out.
The team could prove me wrong, because there is a lot of potential there, but they're still missing a big bat and have far too many unanswered questions in their bullpen to justify any prognostications of serious success this year. A respectable effort has been made by ownership, drumming up plenty of excitement, but without some in-season moves and several hopes becoming a reality, I think New York will be home again come playoff time.
That said, this is the Yankees we're talking about here. Never count them out.