We take a look at a New York Yankees team that overachieved last year and preview the 2016 squad before the MLB odds for next season come out.
The Yankees made the playoffs and should've had 90 wins if it weren't for a late season collapse, but this is a team of gamers and there's definitely room for improvement. That said, the Yanks can't be happy about the New York Mets in the World Series. The late George Steinbrenner must be rolling in his grave.
A Healthy Mark Teixiera
This is key as Teixiera had a monster season last year and a comeback season, if you will, because in previous seasons, he would show some pop, but really couldn't find a consistent stroke and his batting average was dropping worse than the stock market.
Tex was well on his way to a 45 plus home run season with 120 plus runs batted in and with a solid batting average until he got injured. He's been getting injured often and if this happens again, Greg Bird is ready to step in as he did last season.
Last season, Bird showed a ton of power in his limited at bats and proved that he belongs in the Major Leagues. The Yankees will need to find a place for him because as you know, the designated hitter position is reserved for Alex Rodriguez.
Back in the Fold
It's crazy to say that the Yankees will be relying on Alex Rodriguez, who will be 41 years old in July, but A-Rod came up like a champ in 2015. Rodriguez did everything that he was supposed to to get himself back in the sport that he loves. The Steinbrenners don't want to pay him the additional $6 million dollars, but without Alex Rodriguez last season, the Yankees would've been in trouble against the MLB odds.
A-Rod had a 30-home run season and came up with some really clutch hits. He was batting around .270 for most of the season, but like Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury, his batting average took a dramatic drop at the end of the season. Regardless, last season was a big success for A-Rod, who can be seen covering the World Series on television. I expect to see the same Alex Rodriguez that we saw in 2015. He's a superb athlete and looks to still have gas in the tank. At the DH position, he's durable. Aside from that, he's a good teacher for the younger players on the team.
Gardner and Ellsbury
Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury set the tone for this team as they both possess a ton of speed and make good contact. Gardner was actually an All-Star and then collapsed in the last couple of months in the season. He has a tendency to do this and for the Yankees to be a contender, Brett Gardner must pace himself or do whatever he has to do because he was hitting around .200 for the last couple of months and that's simply not acceptable for an "All-Star" and a key part of this club.
As for Ellsbury, it was an awful signing for the Yankees and they will have to eat the money. Ellsbury does offer speed and can get some key hits, but he's not close to being worth the money that he's being paid.
Another signing that the Yankees made was Brian McCann. The McCann signing two years ago has paid divideneds and McCann's power numbers were the best of his career at the catcher position. McCann was made for Yankee Stadium, but just like most of the team, he ran out of gas and his batting average plummeted at the end of the season and wasn't indicative of how he played. Look for another big year from McCann.
Carlos Beltran is another key player. Beltran is nearing the end of his career and really came into his own as the stakes got higher. He started the season off slow and finished strong to lead the Yankees in hitting. I expect more of the same from Beltran and this is acceptable and he could come up big in the postseason.
In Need Of Starting Pitching
The Yankees have the best bullpen in the majors in Betances and Miller. It's the starters that killed them. Masahiro Tanaka was treated like an ace, but he's really a number two pitcher on any other team and CC Sabathia is a question mark with his admittance of dependancy of alcohol. Maybe Sabathia could come back a better player.
The bottom line is that New York had nobody to match Dallas Keuchel in the Wild Card loss to Houston. A rotation of Eovaldi, Pineda, and Tanaka is respectable, but the Yankees need Luis Severino to progress and they have to open up their wallets and I expect them to do so. This is a team that can reach 90 wins with a little luck and a little tweaking or they could drop to 80 wins if hampered by injuries as this is an aging offense, which is something to consider before placing MLB picks on their futures odds.