With Opening Day on Thursday, let’s consider an all too early World Series prediction: the New York Yankees over the Chicago Cubs in seven.
Sure, the New York Yankees aren’t particularly set at two positions, perhaps three if Greg Bird’s right foot proves lame after his MRI and CT scan. They are counting on a manager with zero experience, albeit a man whose family tree is deeply rooted in the sport, to finish what Joe Girardi started last season.
The club is hoping CC Sabathia is worth the money after his “prove it” and “thanks for your service” one-year, $10 million pact, while also hoping Masahiro Tanaka is the Tanaka of this past October and Sonny Gray benefits from starting the season as the rotation’s fourth starter in spite of his ace potential.
Brian Cashman could not find a taker in the offseason for Jacoby Ellsbury and his albatross contract. There really is no home for Clint Frazier with Brett Gardner still around. A hungry Gleyber Torres, who practically missed an entire season, needs some grooming and Miguel Andujar’s relatively torrid spring was not good enough to win a spot at the hot corner.
But the lineup, even without Bird, is deep and plentiful with Giancarlo Stanton joining Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and company, and the Yankees possess the best bullpen in baseball, one that nearly earned them a spot in last year’s Fall Classic.
In the end, Cashman did not panic by inking the likes of Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta to undeserving contracts. He refused to ship an Andujar or a Torres to add a Gerrit Cole, whom the defending champs added to a rotation buttressed by former Cy Young winners in Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander, the latter of whom with a league MVP to his credit.
He did not pull the trigger on a Manny Machado deal. And while he could have, and likely should have, added a Lance Lynn or a Jake Odorizzi to round out the rotation, he let the Baltimore Orioles splurge on Alex Cobb, whom the Yankees have battered since he received Tommy John surgery, while standing pat and trusting his rotation as currently constructed with the potential to call up a Sheffield, a Tate, an Acevedo, or an Adams or add another quality arm should he need to in July.
While the Boston Red Sox wallowed all spring over whether or not JD Martinez would join them, the Yankee organization watched new manager Aaron Boone wring the most out of Tyler Wade, who will make the 25-man roster, and witnessed the likes of Miguel Andujar, Estevan Florial, and Billy Mckinney prove their worth to a deep and dangerous ball club that prides itself on staying loose and confident while also remaining hungry after falling a single game short of returning to the World Series, a summit they should mount this October.
The Chicago Cubs, orchestrated by a general manager in Theo Epstein who successfully ended two long standing “curses” in Boston and on the North Side, will watch as their former top prospect Gleyber Torres factors mightily down the stretch and Aroldis Chapman, a key cog in ending the franchise’s century-plus long drought, anchors a bullpen that takes the Cubbies down in what ought to be a masterful Fall Classic between two storied organizations, their first against one another since 1932 and Babe Ruth’s infamous “called shot.”
Only this time, Judge and Stanton will be a modern-day Maris and Mantle chasing 61 dingers and Sanchez and Didi will build upon their already sterling resumes. In the end, it’ll be New York over Chicago in seven games, the start of what aims to be a new dynasty in the Bronx.