Published on: 20th April, 2017
by Scott Mandel
It has become a fun start to the 2017 baseball season for the young New York Yankees. When was the last time this franchise, loaded for generations with mostly expensive contracts for mostly veteran stars, in line with the Steinbrenner credo of “win now,” could be described as young? But, that is the case, now.
And, you know what? The young Yanks are playing their asses off. Better yet, the Yankee Stadium faithful are all in, loving every hopeful moment.
Names like Jeter, Rodriguez, McCann, and Beltran have now given way to a new generation of not-yet proven young players who have obvious physical talent and major league-level tools but, are still a distance away from being proven performers at the major league level.
These Yankees are currently, after just 15 games, in first place in the American League East Division. With a record of 10-5, having just had a nine-game winning streak snapped two nights ago, followed by another win last night, Joe Girardi is excited by what he sees from his managers’ perch.
“This is a young team and you never know when these kids will go into slumps,” Girardi said. “It’s inevitable they will struggle. All young players struggle but we will continue to teach and support them while hoping our veteran depth can pick up the slack.”
As always in baseball, it comes down to pitching and catching the ball. Teams who can score lots of runs but still lose games by scores of 9-8, are still losing games. But, you have to love what the starting staff is doing, so far.
CC Sabathia, once a fireballing lefty with a Hall of Fame resume, seems to have officially completed the adjustment from hard thrower to more of a junkball artist with his decreased velocity, from the high 90s to a consistent range of 89-91 mph. At age 37, with a chronic knee problem that must be braced when he pitches, there are serious doubts Sabathia can sustain it.
Sustainability is also the question with the beleagued Michael Pineda, he of the dynamite stuff and fragile head. The wild card in the Yankee starting rotation may be the 23-year old righty, Luis Severino. This is a kid much has been expected of, and based on his three outings this season, he might be turning into a spectacular pitcher right in front of our eyes. Severino is a youngster who has a veteran’s idea of how to pitch and hits 97, consistently. The Yankee brass has viewed him as a top of the rotation talent since he entered the Yankee minor league system.
The bullpen looks like it can hold up, barring injury, of course. I like this team. If Headley, who I called Graig Nettles seven years ago, gives us 20/80/.265 and solid defense, the infield will be outstanding, offensively and defensively. I like that the kids, who WILL slump because that’s what kids do, are protected by veterans, who can step in and play really well as long as they aren’t overexposed. Hicks and Carter are major leaguers. Hicks is possibly an up and coming star, which makes Gardner or Ellsbury (or Hicks) trade bait in July.