MORAN: Who’s playing ball for Yankees in 2016?
Opinions Column: The Morant
Oct. 6, 2015, was the day after my birthday, but more importantly, it was the day the New York Yankees lost the wildcard game to the Houston Astros, 3-0. Their 162-game season ended in just one game. One game is ridiculous for the wildcard series, but that’s for another discussion.
I was angry that they lost, that their offense had been missing for more than a month, and the Blue Jays won the American League East.
A lot of people said Yankees fans should not be mad because not much was expected from them last season, let alone actually making the playoffs.
My answer to those people was that they didn't understand the culture of the Yankees: It’s win or go home. With a team that has won the most championships in any of the major sports (27), the team is expected to compete every season.
Now I do credit the Yankees for making moves to help the team in the long term, like not trading away any of their top prospects or losing any first round picks, because their lack of youth has killed them these past couple of years.
The Yankees fell apart down the stretch last season mostly because of a lack of production from their stars, like Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Texiera.
The injuries on the mound to the starting pitching staff devastated the team, with CC Sabathia not being the same player and eventually checking into rehab, and Masahiro Tanaka, Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Pineda being on the Disabled List for extended periods.
But enough with the excuses, because in about a month, we all forget about the previous season and focus on the rigorous six-month season ahead.
The Yankees had an interesting offseason to say the least — being the only team not to sign a free agent to major league contract.
They did, however, make headlines for acquiring the hardest throwing reliever in the league, Aroldis Chapman, for essentially no valuable trade assets. Of course this was not received lightly, with Chapman facing domestic violence charges.
With Chapman now in the fold, along with Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller, the Yankees have formed the best seventh, eighth and ninth-inning punch in MLB history.
Overall the other two big moves were acquiring Aaron Hicks, who will act as the team’s fourth outfielder, and considering how much the outfield was affected by injuries, it was a smart move. The team also added second baseman Starlin Castro, who will provide production at a position the Yankees sorely lacked last season.
The Yankees could be the biggest conundrum in all of baseball because nobody really knows what they are going to be.
A lot of their success is going to be predicated on the health of the team and avoiding major injuries this season.
Instantly the attention turns to Rodriguez and Texiera, along with Carlos Beltran, in this department.
A-Rod admitted he wore down and got tired last season, but is hoping his conditioning this offseason helps him. Considering he does nothing but hit, fans hope he can make it the full length.
I cannot remember the last time Texiera was not injured in a season since winning the championship in 2009. Texiera should be motivated going forward and play his best to earn a good contract knowing he will most likely not be a member of the team next year with prospect Greg Bird waiting in the wings.
Beltran has what sports people refer to as “no knees.” After almost 20 seasons playing and multiple knee surgeries, it's taken a toll on him.
The competition has only gotten better in the AL East this season, making things difficult for the Yankees to get back to prominence.
The Blue Jays are essentially the same team as last year and get a full year together this season to only get better.
The Red Sox have really good young talent and made an important signing with David Price, and a solid trade for Carson Smith. Personally I'm still not buying them as contenders.
The Orioles have spent roughly $270 million this offseason to improve their team.
The Rays are always a thorn in each divisional teams' side.
It’s going to be most important for the Yankees starting five of Tanaka, Sabathia, Eovaldi, Pineda and Luis Severino to remain healthy, because in my mind they are the X-factors of this team. If those five are healthy and play to their potential, the Yankees should be in the discussion for playoffs come September.
Joe Girardi should be on the hot seat since he has really struggled ever since winning the 2009 championship, but we will wait to see what impact he has on the team this season.
There are a lot of moving parts for the Yankees this season, and we have to wait to see how it all culminates.
So who are the 2016 New York Yankees? Who really knows?
Ryan Moran is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies and economics. His column, "The Morant," runs on alternate Mondays.
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