Is Championship #28 Ahead for the New York Yankees?

new-york-yankees-223768_500_500Baseball has begun. I love it. Will the Yankees win their 28th Championship this year? I surely hope so (and they have a good shot), but realistically odds are that they will fall short. Unlike the past few years, they enter the 2018 season with a strong squad and a credible chance of being the eventual World Series champs. I haven’t been able to say that since 2012, the last season that they won the AL East and Jeter’s last good year (led the MLB with 216 hits at age 38—not too shabby). Though the Yankees have been a winning team every year since 1994, they had no shot of being Champions in the last few years…until, unexpectedly, last year. Even “homers”, such as myself, were shocked at their rapid rise, and while losing in the ALCS was very disappointing, it was more than we could have hoped for….then.

But now they are no longer the lovable underdogs. Trading for Stanton and his massive size (and contract) makes them the “evil empire” yet again. No problem for me or the Yankees. I don’t care if fans across the U.S. resent their success or aggressiveness. In reality given the relative youth of their squad, they are just among the biggest spenders now, no longer at the top (Dodgers are #1). I admire them spending aggressively and interestingly, they are becoming more successful as they become more frugal and burn off many of their expensive contracts for 30+ aged players

So will the Yankees win championship #28 this year?

Reasons to be hopeful

They have a line-up second to none. Hitters, sluggers, and flexibility. Stanton, Judge, Sanchez are true sluggers. Bird could be one too, depending on his health, and now he’s out until June. But they have other talent too in Gardner, Didi, Hicks, Walker, Drury and a strong bench. I like the fact that they have no consistent DH. They have plenty of thumpers who can rotate at the DH spot allowing more rest, variability and position flexibility.

Regarding their pitching, the relief staff is other-worldly. Could end up being among the best of all time, though I can never feel better than hearing Enter Sandman and seeing Mariano appear. But they are 5 deep in top quality relievers—Robertson, Kahnle, Green, Betances and Chapman. How can you get better than that?

Reasons to be concerned

On the other hand, their starters could be a question mark. Certainly they performed well in the playoffs, but questions remain. Severino was great last year (3rd in Cy Young), and is now their ace, but will he be great again? While Tanaka be the inconsistent regular season pitcher, or the post-season marvel. Will Sonny Gray be a strong starter, in his first full season with the Yankees?  Will CC continue to contribute in his advanced age? Will Montgomery continue to develop?  Realistically there will be some yeses to these questions, but alas some nos. And injuries are always critical, as it is with every team.

And as mentioned previously Bird is a injury question mark.

Looking to the future, their farm system is among the best in the Majors. Even with trading away some young talent, they still have among the highest amount of top 100 minor league prospects. As we all know, young talent is always hit or miss, yet given its abundance, there’s a great future for the Yankees as well.

So will they win it all this year? They could, but I would bet no.

Astros, Cleveland, Boston, are also very strong AL contenders and in the always inferior “Senior Circuit” (aka National league) there are a few teams that can contend as well. My 2 cents is that the Yankees will again be a playoff team this year, but fall short. I suspect that 2019 will be the year of their 28th championship, with more to follow thereafter. That was always the plan. But hey, can they win in 2018–who knows? What I do know is that I will be in the Bronx more than 20 times this year and elsewhere on the road. I am looking forward to it and I hope to see some exciting October baseball too.

Go Yankees. Play ball.

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