The Yankees have not won a World Series since 2009 and we’ve heard it all since, be it from radio pundits or the wrathful bunch that is #YankeesTwitter.
Brian Cashman cares too much about analytics. The Yankees’ championship drought is reaching old Red Sox levels. Players X, Y, and Z need to be re-signed, released, traded, and sent to the minors all at once. And while we’re at it, Z should have retired three years ago!
Cool your jets, folks. The Yankees are still consistent contenders even if their bats regularly vanish in the playoffs. Cashman is still an elite general manager and knows how to find diamonds in the rough, especially in the bullpen. Manager Aaron Boone has also proven a great hire.
Best of all, the Yankees did exactly what they needed to do this offseason: Re-sign Aaron Judge and then some. The pitching staff is boosted. The lineup is locked, loaded, and no longer crippled by shifts.
The Astros aren’t as big a threat as they were last season and projections favor the Yankees to win the AL East again. Have they done enough to win that ever-elusive 28th World Series?
Greatest Addition: Carlos Rodon. New York’s pitching staff was already in good shape, ranking second in the American League and third in MLB with a 3.30 ERA. It was still abundantly clear that ace Gerrit Cole needed some strong support behind him. Thus, Rodon signed a six-year, $162 million deal to don the pinstripes.
The big lefty had another great year in 2022 and posted a 2.88 ERA with an MLB-best 2.25 FIP. Rodon also led all pitchers with 12 strikeouts per nine innings (K/9), fanning 237 hitters in 178 innings. His injury history is lengthy and he’ll even begin the season on the IL, but we’ve discussed how Rodon’s risks are worth the reward.
Rodon should return to the rotation soon and has great career numbers against both the AL East and the Astros. He could very well be a secondary ace behind Cole.
Greatest Loss: Jameson Taillon. He wanted to stay and Cashman probably could have re-signed him, but Rodon’s dominant form was the bigger need. Taillon went 14-5 with a 3.91 ERA last year and was an excellent control pitcher. Better yet, he was healthy all season.
He parlayed his success into a four-year, $68 million contract with the Cubs and should be their No. 2 starter. Chicago in turn gets a quality arm who can do it all from striking hitters out to inducing soft contact.
Greatest Strength: In its own weird way, player development. The Yankees are often accused of hugging prospects and keeping them in development limbo. To be fair, that’s often the case. Just ask Estevan Florial.
But at the same time, just look at the recent Yankees prospects who have debuted and become reliable regulars. Aaron Judge just had a record-breaking season and is now the highest-paid player in baseball, plus the team captain. Gleyber Torres can be streaky but is an elite contact hitter at his best. Nestor Cortes needs no introduction.
How about No. 1 prospect Anthony Volpe flat-out earning the starting shortstop’s job out of spring training?
Not every Yankees prospect becomes a star, but most find a way to stick around in baseball. Furthermore, Cashman has had his job for 25 years without a single losing season. Say what you want about him, but his formula isn’t a losing one.
Greatest Weakness: Lack of pitching depth. We discussed this back in December and are now witnessing it firsthand. The Yankees are shockingly lacking in strong starting pitching prospect. No. 27 prospect Jhony Brito being the No. 5 starter thanks to Luis Severino’s injury paints a pretty detailed picture. For context, there are 14 pitchers ahead of him among the Yankees’ Top 30 prospects.
This shouldn’t be a long-term problem for New York. The front office can draft young pitching. The starting rotation’s key arms are all under contract for the next few years. Pitching alone can keep the Yankees competitive.
But what happens if Clarke Schmidt’s arm gets sore? Or German or Brito get hurt? What’s the backup plan for when the reserves go down? It’s a tough call, and the answer certainly isn’t three bullpen games. Thankfully, Brian Sabean is back in the building and should help solve this problem quickly.
Will the Yankees get back to the World Series in 2023? I won’t give a straight yes or no answer but I will say this. The American League Pennant is absolutely the Yankees’ to lose this season. The Astros can’t lean on Justin Verlander anymore and won’t have Jose Altuve for the first two months of the season. Projections still favor them to win the AL West, but to finish behind the Yankees in the win column.
A lot needs to go right for the Yankees, especially health. You never want to be down three starting pitchers going into the regular season. But thankfully, Rodon and Luis Severino should both return soon.
The lineup is already in a better position with the shift ban. Anthony Rizzo and Aaron Hicks alone should benefit from this and even Josh Donaldson is starting to look worth his $27 million price tag. Volpe will boost the lineup immediately if his strong spring training follows him to the Bronx.
The New York Yankees are a good, deep, competitive team and absolutely capable of winning a World Series. Getting there, however, is up to them.
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