Yankees Editorial: Rooting for the 2015 Yankees
In a recent New York Post article, Ken Davidoff suggests that the Yankees best days are behind them and ahead of them, but that there is not a lot of hope for 2015 Yankees. This is an interesting question for fans to answer. The 2015 team isn’t likely to be a part of a dynasty any time soon, but does that mean they aren’t fun to root for? I’m not so sure.
The Yankees are always a team of strong traditions and the legion of retired numbers. 2015 is being played in the shadow of the most recent Yankee dynasty as there are ceremonies scheduled to honor Bernie Williams, Willie Randolph, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettitte this season. Last season we saw Paul O’Neill , Tino Martinez, and Joe Torre honored, and surely next season will see Derek Jeter’s time (Can David Cone get a little love? Anyone?).
The juxtaposition between the solid years of that dynasty–who won four World Series championships in five years–and this team is an easy one to see. One is great, arguably one of the greatest teams in MLB history. The other is at risk of missing the playoffs for the third straight season and has been playing so inconsistently it is almost impossible to know which team will take the field on any given day. Will it be the team that swept the Royals, or the team that was swept by the Rangers? We just don’t know.
On Sunday, another number was retired in front of one of the biggest crowds of the season. Something that Davidoff points out that the fans were not there to “see Chris Capuano” pitch. Fair enough. Capuano is not in any danger of having a plaque in monument park.
What is there to cheer about in this 2015 season? Well, a lot.
The Outfield: Homegrown Yankee Brett Gardner is always easy to cheer for. The gutty gritty outfielder plays the game hard every game. His range and speed make him a must watch any time a ball is hit near him. He is just as much of a threat to steal a base as he is to steal a base hit with a timely bunt. If you don’t like Brett Gardner, you just may not actually like baseball.
May 27, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees catcherBrian McCann
(34) and relief pitcherAndrew Miller
(48) celebrate after defeating the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium. The New York Yankees won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Alongside Gardner, is his partner in crime, the equally speedy and equally stealthy Jacoby Ellsbury. He is out with a knee injury and is not expected to return for at least a month, but when he does, look for him to take over the top of the order and continue to wreak havoc alongside Gardner.
Pitching: Of course any conversation about bright spots on the Yankees has to begin with Brooklyn native Dellin Betances and his counterpart Andrew Miller. The two relievers are so good they are nearly perfect. Betances has a 0.00 ERA and Miller is a perfect 14-for-14 in saves opportunities so far this season. They are an exciting pair and a must watch bullpen every time they’re on display.
There is a bit more intrigue surrounding the starters. Masahiro Tanaka is on his way back from injury and his storyline is one that is must watch as well. When he is good is good, but whether or not the elbow will hold up is another story. Michael Pineda is quickly becoming a bright spot on this team and at times, like on Mother’s Day when he had 16 strikeouts, his stuff is so filthy it almost doesn’t seem fair to opposing hitters.
Infield Defense: If you like underdog stories this might be the part of this team for you. This was supposed to be a strength for the Yankees coming into the season. Stephen Drew, Didi Gregorius, and Chase Headley were supposed to be a team of web gems and many fans dreamt of an insane runs saved numbers. Instead, well, Headley has 10 errors and Gregorius and Drew are more than disappointing. If anything, this group is the part of the Yankees that seems almost a microcosm for the 2015 season. When they are good, they are great, and the Yankees win. But, when they are bad, it is nearly unwatchable. It is going to be an interesting ride to see if these three can get back on track.
Alex Rodriguez: Regardless of where you stand on the PED issue, this season for A-Rod is a fascinating one. He is returning to baseball after missing a year and a half. He has two surgically repaired hips. He has been branded a villain by many. And how has he responded? By hitting the baseball. He has 11 home runs and is coming up on home run number 666. He is anchoring the DH position for the Yankees and providing crucial offense. The Yankees have publicly stated they will not pay his home run bonuses and refuse to market his records unless the arbitrator rules in A-Rod’s favor. Again, love him, hate him, or if you just enjoy drama, Alex is one to watch in 2015.
The Future. The Yankees have a good core of youngsters who are making debuts this year and there are even more down on the farm waiting to come up. Already, we have seen outfielder Slade Heathcott, infielder Jose Pirela, and reliever Jacob Lindgren, ( Lindgren, who has earned the nickname “The Strikeout Factory” has to be exciting to watch, right?).
There are others to be excited about as well including outfielder Aaron Judge, first baseman Greg Bird and pitcher Luis Severino, who may not or may not be ready this season, but there is a buzz surrounding them. Many are claiming that perhaps these youngsters are the future and that they are the possible second coming of a “core four” type dynasty. And that is certainly exciting.
Playoffs: No matter how bad the Yankees have played this season there is no denying that they do have playoff hopes. They are currently 25-22 and are 1.5 games ahead of the Tampa Rays in the AL East division. With the new Wild-Card format for the playoffs, it is a new world. These Yankees are not a bad team, they are team a that sometimes plays badly, there is a difference.
Yankees fans are used to a certain level of confidence in their team. They have not seen a team finish below .500 in 22 seasons. And there is a risk that this one could be the first to do so since 1992. But, they could also be the 2012 Giants or the 2014 Royals. They could hit the playoffs on one of their hot streaks and win it all. And that certainly seems like something worth watching.
The Yankees (25-23) are out west this week. They lost game one of a four-game series in Oakland (18-32) on Thursday.