February 22, 2018

7 reasons why the Yanks could fail in 2018

Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of hope for the Yankees in 2018. But it won’t be easy. The AL East is still the deepest division in baseball, and while the Yankees made the biggest move of the offseason to acquire Giancarlo Stanton, now they have a target on their backs. 

Plus, a lot of things could very easily go wrong with this team. Here are seven of the biggest concerns I have with this squad.

1. We can’t expect so many career years again
Let’s get real for a second: it all came together for the Yankees in 2017. Luis Severino, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, Starlin Castro, Ronald Torreyes and Chad Green all had monster seasons. That’s a lot to live up to this year, as all are back with the exception of Castro. Realistically, maybe one of this bunch will be able to improve on last season, while the rest will likely not be able to match their magical 2017 campaign.

2. Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres are coming off offseason surgeries
Both in their left arms, thank goodness, but that’s still a pretty pivotal part of a ballplayer. I expect to see Torres debut in the Bronx around May 4 (giving the Yankees an extra year of control over him), and I really have a hard time seeing him thrive like Judge and Sanchez have the last two seasons.

As for Judge, he admitted in a recent spring training presser that he started feeling his shoulder injury last July, right when his season took a turn for the worst. While it’s refreshing to know his slump was caused by an injury, it’s still a little scary to know that his left shoulder gave out after just half a season. I’m sure it would be hard for him to do this, but maybe he should consider bowing out of the Home Run Derby this season to avoid the extra wear and tear.

3. The rotation could collapse
Don’t believe me? Here’s a quick rundown of troubling signs: 
  • Severino turns 24 on Tuesday, and he tossed a career high 193.1 innings in 2017.
  • Jordan Montgomery also tossed a career high of 163.1 innings (including a few in the minors) in 2017. 
  • CC Sabathia turns 38 in July and last season we started to see opposing hitters testing his knees with bunts.
  • Masahiro Tanaka allowed an unsettling career high of 35 homers in 2017.
  • Sonny Gray hasn’t started 30 games in a season since 2015.
4. Stanton’s learning curve
In 527 plate appearances (roughly one season), Stanton owns a.796 OPS against American League teams (118 points less than his career average). Small sample size, but he’s also been terrible against all AL East opponents except for Toronto (and the Yankees). This division is no joke – Stanton has some studying to do. 

5. Relievers are extremely inconsistent
On paper, the Yankees look like they have one of the best bullpens in baseball again. But “on paper” doesn’t hold a whole lot of weight when it comes to relievers. I have confidence in David Robertson, and that’s about it. In case you didn’t notice, Aroldis Chapman had a 3.22 ERA last season. Oh, and Dellin Betances completely lost control of his fastball down the stretch. Can we really expect Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle to be lights out again? Perhaps they will, but there’s a good chance at least one of these guys won’t be able to keep their job in 2018.

6. An infield with a lot to learn
Three of the four infielders have yet to play a full major league season, and two of them are still relatively new to their positions. That’s a lot of defensive inexperience at key positions. I have a feeling we’re going to see a lot more of Torreyes this year as Miguel Andujar and Torres battle through their rookie seasons. And Didi is really going to have to hold down the fort.

7. Little coaching experience
Aaron Boone has never managed a team in his life, and the rest of his coaching staff are new to the Yankees except pitching coach Larry Rothschild and bullpen coach Mike Harkey. It's not hard to foresee a new coaching staff lose control of a young team.

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