I’m a diehard Yankees fan and have been my whole life. I always look forward to this day every winter. Even in the dismal 1980s when the Yankees didn’t win a World Series, each spring brought the new hope that this was going to be the year.
It wasn’t until that mid-1990s that the hope experienced in February was realized in October – an entire generation of Yankees fans only know the successful Yankees teams, they don’t know the heartache of being a Yankees fan through the 1980s or the late 1960s.
This offseason was very quiet for the Yankees, especially in comparison to the last decade, so these “new” Yankees fan must be frightened for the future. There wasn’t a big trade made by the Yankees or big-name free agency signing as the Yankees look towards getting under the luxury tax threshold for the coming seasons so they can reset the luxury tax payments and then begin the free-spending all Yankees-haters love to bring up. Many Yankees fans have taken this to mean the end of days. I beg to differ.
This offseason was merely a “correction” and makes perfect sense going forward. The Yankees are an aging (or aged) team, so riding out the final years of some contracts so that new blood can be brought in in later seasons is something I’m looking forward to (especially with Justin Verlander possibly on the market in the coming years).
Does a quiet season mean the Yankees are destined to finish last in the AL East? I don’t think so. It’s still almost the same team that had the best record in the American League last season.
Yes, everyone is a year older, many are coming off injuries and there are question marks, but I don’t think it means they’re dropping to the bottom.
Tampa lost some key players including James Shields and the Red Sox still seem to be a mess. Baltimore had a great 2012 but will their young players repeat what they did last season? Toronto didn’t just re-load, they overloaded and just might be the force in the AL East this season. One thing’s for sure though – the AL East has a very good chance of being fantastic top-to-bottom and I don’t think there’s any “easy outs” in that division (there are no Houston Astros in the AL East).
The Yankees did lose some key personnel. Nick Swisher was a big loss, but there’s a chance that Ichiro plays like he did when he joined the Yankees and not like he did on the Mariners. Also, this allows the Yankees to have an outfield of Brett Gardner, Ichiro and Curtis Granderson – defensively they’ll be fantastic and all have a chance to win Gold Gloves but they all need to deliver at the plate. Gardner and Ichiro need to get on-base and Granderson needs to raise his batting average up (while still hitting 35+ homeruns).
I still don’t understand why the Yankees didn’t go after Russell Martin – yes, he’s not one of the best catchers in the league, but it leaves them with no real catcher except career backups and young guys like Austine Romine who aren’t proven at the MLB level yet.
Will Derek Jeter play at a Hall of Fame level or will the injury he sustained during the playoffs last season knock hiim back to where he was in 2010 when almost everyone thought he was done (including me)? If he can come back to somewhere in-between his 2010 season and 2012 season, he will be fine and I suspect he will.
Can Mariano Rivera continue to be the best closer in baseball history? Can he come back from the devasting knee injury suffered early last season and give the Yankees his normal 40 saves, WHIP under 1.000 and ERA under 2.2? I think he can. Also, is this the last season Mariano plays for the Yankees? It’s going to be interesting to watch. Even though I’d hate to see him retire, it’s almost time. I just hope he announces it early enough so the entire league will get the chance to tell him thanks and to say good-bye.
Can Kevin Youkilis rebound to put up numbers like he did in Boston? Is ARod done? Will the Yankees extend Cano before the season starts? Is the pitching staff up to doing what it did last year? Can Andy Pettitte deliver again (provided he stays healthy)? Will Michael Pineda finally pitch in a Yankees uniform and make us forget we gave up Jesus Montero for him? Will the Yankees make any moves by the July trade deadline if it looks like the quiet offseason needs to be fixed? How these, and many other questions raised during the season, are answered will determine what kind of season Yankees fans will see.
I don’t remember a Yankees team coming into Spring Training with so many questions. However, I still believe the Yankees will win the AL East – though it’s going to be a dogfight. I still think they’ll succeed in October but this time around they need to hit better – home runs are great, but you can’t always count on them.
I’m just happy it’s the middle of February again. Even though the Northeast is buried under snow, the Yankees are on a field in Tampa getting ready to go after their 28th World Series title. Oh, I didn’t forget about all you non-Yankees fans – this week is your time too. As of today, all teams are tied, no team has been eliminated from the playoffs and a season of hope begins (yes, even for you Cubs fans!). Before we know it, the All-Star game will be upon us, and then we’ll blink and the calendar will roll over to October and the playoffs will start. Baseball has the longest season but it goes by so fast – which makes days like this, the day when pitchers and catchers report, even more special.
What does this time of year mean to you? Please feel free to comment. For those Yankees fans (and even non-Yankees fans), please answer the poll question below as well.
What is the biggest concern for the Yankees in 2013?
- Age - too many "old" players (53%, 9 Votes)
- Injuries - Rivera, Jeter and ARod all "questionable" (29%, 5 Votes)
- Quiet Offseason - didn't fill any holes and it created more (12%, 2 Votes)
- Other (please comment) (6%, 1 Votes)
Total Voters: 17