After unloading nearly $500 million on a trio of All-Stars and a superstar foreign pitcher, the New York Yankees still have uncertainties everywhere. The team is suffering from last season, which left many key players battered and bruised, along with several veteran players that found new homes during free-agency. All of these factors proved that sometimes, even for the Yankees, there are things money can’t buy.
As a result of the new names and the price tags that came with them, I believe that the Yankees have no choice but to be the unanimous favorites to win the World Series, otherwise, what was it all for? The Yankees are always considered contenders, but after a historical spending spree, it would be laughable without a World Series visit. Though the expectations are distinctively higher than last year’s team, this year’s squad is surprisingly nowhere near being a runaway favorite.
For the better part of the last four seasons, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez have comprised what was one of the best infields in MLB history. Now, Cano and Rodriguez are gone and Jeter and Teixeira are coming back from injuries that sidelined them for nearly all of last year. Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson and Brendan Ryan will step in to provide whatever it is they can, but certainly the infield in the Bronx offers no inspiration.
The Yankees’ outfield is probably the most optimistic area on the field, however, it would be better if the year was 2004 rather than 2014. Carlos Beltran, Alfonso Soriano and Ichiro Suzuki all will be asked to have exceptional years with Brett Gardner and an injury-prone Jacoby Ellsbury serving as the outfield’s only youth, each at 30 years old.
Finally, there is the pitching dilemma. General manager Brian Cashman stated last week that $155 million Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka will hopefully be a solid No. 3 starter. I understand that Cashman is just trying to be realistic, but that is a surprising expectation for someone who cost an arm and a leg to get. CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda struggled to finish 2013 and Ivan Nova has never put together a full MLB season. As for the fifth spot, a competition in Spring Training between several young pitchers will determine who will hold the position.
The 2014 Yankees have given fans a reason to be excited, but there are many question marks that simply cannot be ignored. This year’s Spring Training will be one of the most crucial in a long time for Joe Girardi and his staff, as they will have to make major decisions on every position.