Going into the 2014 season, the Yankees and their fans expected a big season after a very busy off-season. They bumped up the catcher position by swapping out Chris Stewart for All-Star Brian McCann. They bolstered the outfield by signing the dynamic and exciting center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and the power hitting Carlos Beltran and extending the home grown Brett Gardner.
They imported a ready-made ace in the Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka, and resigned Hiroki Kuroda. But not all was grand and beautiful. Superstar second baseman Robinson Cano left his pinstripes covered in the dirt of Yankee Stadium and decided to place the emerald green of the Seattle Mariners on his back and put $240 million dollars in the bank. Third baseman Alex Rodriguez was suspended for the entire season and the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera, hung up his cleats and said goodbye to the game.
The team fumbled along by signing the washed up Brian Roberts, and the below average Kelly Johnson along with an unknown rookie named Yangervis Solarte to try and fill in holes. Fans, like hopeful dreamers who look at only the good instead of the bad, still, believed we had a chance to win it all. What 2014 became was a painful and grueling look at how the moves we didn’t make negated the ones we did make, and so it seems as though missing the playoffs once again is inevitable. Injuries plagued the rotation and the lineup, and under performing players caused the offense to play as flat as a soda in the sun. But, there is hope for next year. My friends and fellow fans of the Yankees keep your heads up, because 2015 can only be a better year.
As euphoric and exciting it was to see the Yankees scoop up prime time free agents it was a bitter victory. We lost the best second baseman in all of baseball, and that was enough to puncture a hole in the offense so big, recovery was impossible. Fans in the Bronx lost one of their favorite players as for the first time in history New York felt the sharp and ugly pain of losing a player “because of the money.” Our own medicine tasted pretty bitter. But, this past off-season, we filled so many glaring holes in our roster and in 2015 it’s only going to get better.
This off-season, the Yankees biggest free agent is closer David Robertson who, while racking up 30 saves in his first season as the closer, is replaceable like most closers are. If Robertson was to leave and sign somewhere else, then Dellin Betances, Robertson’s setup man and perhaps the most dominate and intimidating reliever, would likely take over as the closer. Who sets up then? How about free agent Sergio Romo, Andrew Miller, or any number of free agent relievers. Stephen Drew (shortstop), Chase Headley (third baseman) and Brandon McCarthy (starting pitcher) are also impending free agents and in all likelihood, Chase Headley is the only player who could conceivably return depending on how the organization wants to use Alex Rodriguez (He’s coming back so lets stop the speculation). There is no fear of losing an impact player.
So how will this team get better? It just so happens that the free agent pool is filled with players that could fill the Yankees holes. Derek Jeter will retire and the Yankees will have their pick of Hanley Ramirez, Asdrubal Cabrera, J.J. Hardy, Jed Lowrie and perhaps Troy Tulowitzki if he were made available via trade. They shouldn’t have a hard time bringing in their new field general this season. Despite a partial tear in his UCL, ace Masahiro Tanaka might actually be able to avoid Tommy John Surgery and be back next season. Michael Pineda has returned from injury and will be here for next season and Ivan Nova will be ready to play ball after the season commences. Hiroki Kuroda will likely retire or return to Japan, and C.C. Sabathia‘s status is unknown at this point. So pitching help is needed.
Who is available? Former Red Sox ace and current Oakland Athletic Jon Lester is likely on the Yankees radar and he may be ready top join the club of former Red Sox to put on the Yankees cap. Max Scherzer and James Shields will also be free agents and the Yankees could possibly bring in TWO of these guys to pitch in the Bronx. I’d bet my life savings (All $75 of it) that they organization will bring in at least one of them. I think anyone would take the same bet. What about second base? Yankees covered that at the deadline by bringing in utility player Martin Prado who was originally a second baseman with the Atlanta Braves. He’s under contract until after the 2016 season. Older players like Ichiro Suzuki will leave allowing the team to use a variety of standout minor leaguers or pick up a few spare parts in the off season like Chris Denorfia (He kills lefties), Josh Willingham (He has big power), Colby Rasmus (If he doesn’t know he shouldn’t start at this point he’ll know soon enough), among an assortment of other options.
What I’m trying to say is that this season is a wash. It’s over and that’s a fact we have to accept. But this off-season could be as exciting as last year, but we won’t have to deal with the loss of a superstar. Yeah, this year was disappointing but next year can only be better. The opportunity to improve is within the Yankees’ reach and if they put it all together, 2015 will be a very different season.