Despite Joe Girardi’s statements to the press about the AL East, the New York Yankees aren’t quite ready to compete against Boston just yet.
Joe Girardi took to the podium before yet another championship game at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
Before the New Era Pinstripe Bowl between the University of Pittsburgh and Northwestern University, Girardi made a bold statement regarding the New York Yankees and their future.
“I think we are a club that is fighting for their division,” Girardi said, as reported by Mike Puma in the New York Post. That division was dominated by a Boston Red Sox club that was full of bright, young stars and seasoned veterans. With moves they’ve made so far this off-season, they’ll likely be at the top again.
Girardi’s statement is an encouragement, a way to light a fire under a struggling Yankees team. The problem is, Girardi is giving his own team false hope when it comes to the 2017 season.
Sure, they very well could burst out of the gate and exceed all the expectations that have been placed upon their heads. They could certainly rise above every challenge and find themselves in the thick of a playoff race. They could surprise everyone.
Chances are, that will not happen. Girardi’s faith in the team isn’t necessarily misplaced, but when it comes to the division race, he is dead wrong.
The Red Sox were dominant last season in every regard. David Ortiz led a stellar DH campaign in his final season, young stars in Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts led the way on both offense and defense, and Dustin Pedroia returned to the Pedroia all Yankees fans love to hate.
Not to mention the 2016 CY Young Award winner Rick Porcello anchoring a strong rotation. All in all, the Red Sox were set.
This off-season they added a treasure trove of talent. Hard-throwing ace Chris Sale and impressive relief pitcher Tyler Thornburg were additions that immediately made the Red Sox favorites to win not only the East again, but perhaps the World Series.
The Red Sox, unlike the Yankees, didn’t have many holes to fill after their 93-69 season and that’s what makes it so hard to believe that the Yankees don’t have a chance against their fiercest rivals.
The truth of the matter is that Girardi and the Yankees are talented, yet unproven. Their inconsistency last season only made matters worse. While they have talented pieces up and down their line-up, they haven’t been cohesive enough to be dominant as a unit. The Red Sox have.
The Yankees need time. We are constantly preaching the need to be patient and that is just what needs to be done in this rivalry.
This will be Gary Sanchez’s first season as a starting catcher. There will be young players in Tyler Austin and Greg Bird vying for the coveted position Mark Teixeira held dear for several years. Aaron Judge will be fighting for a starting spot and to improve his swing.
This is a fresh-faced squad for the Yankees and who knows if they’ll get their footing this first full season together.
It would be entirely exhilarating to watch the Yankees put up a good fight against the Red Sox.
However, I don’t think it will happen just yet. Give these kids a couple of years. Once they’ve settled into the big stage, they’ll be contenders. Right now, there are too many “ifs” to even consider them competition on the same level as the Red Sox.
The 2017 season should have a focus on developing young players and working on cohesive energy, not on trouncing the Red Sox. That will come in time.
For now, they might not be on a contending level. But I promise you, they soon will be.