The Yankees have accomplished the heavy lifting to firm up their roster for the new season. Now, it’s hurry up and wait for what will seem like an eternity.
Yankees fans are already tired of waiting.
If it were up to most, the 2020 season would be fast-forwarded to the middle of September when the team has a 10.5 game lead over Tampa Bay or Toronto, and Gerrit Cole has a record of 16-5 making his final three starts of the regular season.
Gary Sanchez has 30 home runs, including one that came within feet of clearing the facade at Yankee Stadium, but his batting average hovers around .210. The starting rotation has lived up to expectations, and Aaron Boone has been able not to overextend his bullpen.
If only we could, but of course we can’t, and October will have to wait.
October Can Wait – Because…
Yes, heaven can wait, but in the meantime, a full slate of games is on the Yankees schedule. And lo and behold, there is a considerable drama that is yet to be played out.
The drama stems from several questions about the team and individual players. For one, how reliable is the backend of the Yankees rotation?
Severino is, of course, coming back from a severe and season-ending injury, and Happ comes in knowing he is only still a member of the Yankees because Brian Cashman wasn’t able to unload his $17 million salaries in a trade.
Another piece of drama will unfold when Domingo German is reinstated, and it falls on Aaron Boone to find a role for a pitcher who set the league on fire (18-4) before he went seriously astray.
German will complete his 81-game suspension on or about June 5. He has options remaining, and therefore the Yankees will likely park him at Triple-A Scranton.
He’ll remain there for as long as it takes German to get ready, or for as long as the Yankees want to keep him there.
Yankees Infield Intrigue
There is also intrigue in the Yankees infield. Unsettled positions include first and third base. Between Luke Voit and Mike Ford, Boone will name their first baseman at or before the end of Spring Training.
The Yankees have publicly said the jobs are Voit’s and Urshela’s to lose. But the matter will remain unresolved for at least the first couple of months of the season because, as we know, winning a job in the big leagues and keeping it are two different things.
Yankees In The Fishbowl
No Yankees player will be watched more closely than Gary Sanchez. It’s put up or shut up time for The Kracken.
As we discussed the other day, the Yankees don’t need the home runs Sanchez hits. They hit more than enough to win as a team.
What they do need though is a Gary Sanchez who can provide more hits – translate a higher batter average – and a better situational hitter who can move runners up by putting his bat on the ball instead of striking out when he gets behind in the count.
It’s also, though slightly different, a situation with Giancarlo Stanton, for whom the challenge in 2020 is to stay on the field. If he can, almost automatically, the numbers he put up in 2018 will be repeated, and the Yankees lineup will change dramatically.
Two Welcome Respites
There are two events during the season that, while they hold no drama, each will be a welcome respite from the grind of a long season.
Because for one night, big leaguers will play baseball at the Iowa farm that was made famous in the beloved film Field of Dreams.
The Yankees will meet the Chicago White Sox on August 13 at night in Dyersville, Iowa.
“Shoeless” Joe Jackson and Archibald “Moonlight” Graham will only be there in spirit, but the images of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Jose Abreu emerging from the darkness of the cornfields are already heartening and breathtaking as a salute to our National Pastime.
The other event to take place is when Yankees fans and their entire organization will join in honoring Derek Jeter, accompanied by the whole Core Five, for his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in late July.
Yankees: Good Things Come To All Ye Who Wait
Yes, the temptation is to take a magic carpet ride on a time machine straight to October. Because as we know, it is only then that the Yankees 2020 season can be completed and measured as a success or failure.
Yet, hopefully, as I’ve tried to demonstrate, there is plenty of mystery and intrigue to witness throughout the upcoming six-month season.
At least I’ve talked myself into it, anyway.