The Yankees have never won anything without contributions coming from all corners of the clubhouse. In that respect, we can’t afford a replay of 2018.
The Yankees need only to look at their arch-enemy Boston Red Sox to see the difference between the two teams last season. Unlike the team in the Bronx, the Red Sox garnered contributions from all of the 25 players in their dugout at any given time. The Yankees have had plenty of teams like that, but last year wasn’t one of them.
The Yankees, of course, weren’t the only teams to meet the Boston conundrum head-on, and to be sure the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers would join in saying the Red Sox were the only real team playing baseball in 2018.
In 2019, the Yankees will test the Red Sox nineteen times during the regular season, including a two-game stop in London England, to see if anything has changed between the teams.
Seemingly, the Red Sox like what they have, and they’re making little effort to introduce changes to the team, save for an all-out desperate search for a closer, anticipating Craig Kimbrel‘s departure in an ill-fated quest for a $100 million payday.
Save for the trade that landed the Seattle Mariner’s ace, James Paxton, the Yankees are pretty much following the same path, believing (correctly) that talent is not the issue with their team. Hal Steinbrenner said the same thing back in November when he was asked if the Yankees were going all-in on Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, tersely replying, “I would think we already have enough to win.”
Also discounted should be any suggestion of division among the players in the Yankee clubhouse. Brett Gardner and CC Sabathia remain the quiet but effective leaders, and Aaron Judge is being groomed as their replacement as early as 2020 when in all probability both Gardner and Sabathia call it quits.
So, it would seem then that the Yankees 2019 season boils down to this. Gary Sanchez can’t hit just above the Mendoza line again, no matter how many home runs he hits.
Nor can the Yankees afford to have Sanchez lead the league again in passed balls, in the same way, Aaron Boone shouldn’t need to “spot catch” him depending on who’s pitching that day. The page needs to turn.
The Yankees have indicated more than once they are all in on Sanchez, and that’s fine. But a repeat of last year will only result in a repeat of last year (for the team). If they believe in Sanchez, though, we believe – right?
Of less significance but still a thorn in the Yankees side at times, Gleyber Torres needs to play every inning of every game he plays in, both in the field and in the box. Too many times last season, he looked lost in space, giving away at-bats, running into outs, or not getting to balls he should have at second base. Reportedly, he is under the close watch, as he should be, of his manager, Aaron Boone.
The Yankees struck out more than 1400 times last season. Only eight teams in the major leagues struck out more, and Boston, Houston, or Cleveland was not one of them. The Yankees also set a record for the most home runs in a season, causing some to say that’s the tradeoff necessary these days in baseball.
Perhaps, but for those who watched Yankees games last season day in and day out, there were far too many times when it appeared their hitters were mailing it in when they didn’t get their pitch. Or worse, thinking they could hit hard that slider just off the plate, instead of punching it to the opposite field – or just taking the pitch for a ball.
And finally, somehow, the Yankees coaching staff also needs to avoid the disappearing act of Cy “Luis Severino” Young in the second half that crescendos into the playoffs, as it has for the past two seasons. The big word now is that Luis Severino was “tipping” his pitches, meaning batters could read a poker-like “tell” that forecasted to the batter which pitch he was throwing.
I don’t know about that, but there was a time when Severino could have had the PA Announcer tell all in attendance what his next pitch was going to be – and there still would be hitters diving over the plate in a vain attempt to hit his fall-off-the-table slider or “rising” 98 mph fastball.
To make a difference in 2019, these are just a few of the improvement areas the Yankees will be concentrating on to overhaul the Red Sox. There are others, and you may have some of your own for the Comments Section below.
The fact is, though, the Red Sox are the elite team of the 21st Century. And if both teams play at the same level again this year, the result will be the same. No one in the Yankees camp wants that.