Here we are, pitchers and catchers are about to report and things are finally going to get real. The Super Bowl is over, the NBA is not quite into the playoff push, and it is time for baseball to take its place in the global spots construct. The World Baseball Classic will be the deciding point over the next few weeks but the real work will be done in Spring Training when players and teams begin to construct their 2017 rosters. With that in mind are there any Yankees playoff predictions or just predictions for the 2017 season? Adam Solowiei and Rich Stowe discuss that very topic in another edition of Yankees Roundtable.
Before we get into it lets take a look at the changes in the Yankees roster over the off-season to date. Of course there is still time for another move or two but for the most part, all the meaningful moves are done.
Brian McCann (C), Dustin Ackley (OF), Billy Butler (DH), Mark Teixeira (1B), Alex Rodriguez (3B, DH)
Aroldis Chapman (RP), Matt Holliday (1B/LF/DH), A Few Minors with ST Invites
Yankees Playoff Predictions
Adam – I guess we need to associate the words Yankees and playoffs for our fan base to truly stay behind it but that is stretch to say the least. The Yankees are in the middle of a rebuild and even for the vaunted Bronx Bombers that is okay and was frankly needed. What can we expect this next year? If you look at the least two years it will help steer the ship. In 2016, the Yankees finished 84-78 (4th in the Al East) and that is actually one heck of a job with all things considered. The year before saw the Yankees finish 87-75 and a Wildcard birth. The Yankees did amazing things while trying to let aging contracts expire and retool their farm system. But what can that actually tell us?
The Yankees are full rebuild mode and waiting for one more large contract to expire (sorry C.C. that’s you). The young talent will start to show itself in 2017 but most will get their chance in September. The Yankees can expect to see Greg Bird start the season at First with the vacancy. It is possible Tyler Austin and him rotate between DH and 1B while getting crucial ABs. I would also expect to see Aaron Judge as the everyday right fielder. But pitching will still be a shortcoming when it comes to Yankees playoff predictions.
Tanaka will have a Cy Young caliber season on a planned opt out year but after that it is anyone’s guess. Michael Pineda has the “right stuff” but has a love for 2nd strike fastballs at the knees that will always hurt him. C.C. Sabathia is destined to be an inning eater and not much more. The final two spots in the rotation are between five players. It is an audition and training year for the Little Bombers and that is okay. The bullpen will be lights out but getting to them with a lead often enough to factor will be the downfall.
Yankees fan keep you team in context and do not sweat the Yankees playoff predictions. 2018 will be a much better year but this season the Yankees can expect to be around 85-77 and in second or third in the AL East. For a team in rebuild mode there is a lot to be proud of here. Heck if the ball bounces right they might even sneak into a Wildcard game.
Rich – I completely agree. I firmly believe the Yankees are still a year or two away from true playoff contention. While the last couple of years have seen them either make the playoffs as a Wild Card or in contention in September, I think they have overachieved in those seasons. While some Yankees fans have been upset about that (the ones who have only known Yankees success and basically didn’t live through the 1980s like us), knowledgeable Yankees fans understand that a rebuild has been needed and any hint of the playoffs during this time is just gravy. Old players with bloated contracts have been the Yankees biggest issues over the last few seasons, and with CC in what I believe his last season in pinstripes (at least at the current contract) and Gardner on the trading block, a new, youthful and CHEAP New York Yankees team is the wave of the future.
This will be the final season where the Yankees truly see if some of the MLB-ready talent truly is MLB-ready. Gary Sanchez proved last year he is and may be a MVP contender this year. Greg Bird or Aaron Judge, if given enough playing time, may be in the Rookie of the Year hunt. Tanaka, like you said, is in his opt-out year, so he will be pitching for an even bigger contract and a possible Cy Young award. The Yankees should finish 3rd in the tough AL East, with a slim chance at the Wild Card but like you said, the real goal is 2018 and beyond, so Yankees fans need to sit tight for one more season – than the big free agents like Harper and Machado may be added to the young studs of Sanchez, Judge, Bird and players like Torres and Frazier. One thing is for certain, I haven’t been this excited about the Yankees youth since the mid-1990s when players like Jeter, Rivera, and Bernie weren’t Pinstripe Legends yet.
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