The Yankees will have lofty expectations in 2018

After the wild ride that was the 2017 Yankees’ season, we are now about a month into the MLB offseason. This is an offseason that will be very important for the future of the franchise and after the somewhat shocking decision to move on from Joe Girardi and hire Aaron Boone, the decisions they make in the coming months will have even greater importance going forward. Even though the Yankees fell short in the ALCS and ended their season in disappointing fashion, overall, they exceeded their expectations for the year. With the core of their group still so young and with more young players vying for a role on next years team, the 2018 Yankees still have a lot to determine about their team before an inning of baseball is played. Despite the uncertainty of their roster and the added pressure of a managerial change coming off such a successful season, the 2018 Yankees will face lofty expectations heading into the season.

Credit: Thomas A. Ferrara/Newsday

The 2017 Yankees were not expected to be a contending team. With so many young players on the roster they were expected to be exciting to watch but also take their lumps and go through growing pains. That is obviously not the way it played out. Carried by the bats of young studs like Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez and by the arm of Luis Severino, the Yankees put a scare into the league with how ready it seemed they were to compete. Although they faced their struggles the team always seemed ready to fight and come back stronger. This was evidenced by their remarkable comebacks in the playoffs against the Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros. Although they ultimately fell short against the Astros, the Yankees effectively put the league on notice last year, the Baby Bombers are coming to take over MLB.

The decision to move on from Joe Girardi was a jarring one for many Yankees fans and although Brian Cashman has been doing great work these last few years, there is a lot of pressure on him to nail this hire. There may not be another team in MLB that would move on from their manager after such a successful run at the helm, but the Yankees are doing this because they feel that they’re ready to contend right now. The hiring of a manager with no experience like Aaron Boone may be surprising but the Yankees are betting on Boone being able to forge strong relationships with their young core players and help them continue to grow into leaders of the team moving forward.
Credit: Nick Turchiaro/USA Today Sports
Although he has no prior managerial experience Boone has a lot of things going for him. He is a baseball lifer who has seen the game extensively as a player and as an analyst. He also comes from a family of baseball players including his brother Brett who was an All-Star infielder, and his father Bob who was a major league catcher and managed as well. Having them in his corner for support and advice could be very helpful as he begins his managerial career. He also has some familiarity with the Yankees organization. Even if it was only for part of one season, the Yankees operate differently than other organizations and have different expectations. Having some first hand experience with that environment is a big plus for someone who will face a learning curve from day one. Once Boone is signed and officially in the fold, he can begin to fill out his coaching staff and we will have more information to evaluate as we look forward to 2018.

There are also other uncertainties to keep an eye on as we look towards next year. Will Aaron Judge be able to replicate his incredible, MVP caliber season and was his shoulder surgery a big deal? Will Gary Sanchez improve on his defense? Will Luis Severino be able to maintain the ace-like form he displayed last year? Can Greg Bird stay healthy and how will Brian Cashman sort out the outfield log jam and create room for other young players on the way? These are serious questions and we won’t get the answer to some of them until the season starts.  

Credit: Jim McIsaac

What I do know is this, the Yankees are in a very good spot right now and if their core players perform to the level that they did last season they will be contending again next year. Although it’s the teams goal to make it to the World Series every year, the pressure will surely be greater next season after falling just one game short a season ago. The young kids on the roster displayed remarkable resiliency in the face of mounting pressure and expectations a season ago and there is no doubt that pressure will be even greater next year. Although there are some complicating factors and reasons for uncertainty, the organization seems to believe that it is ready to step up and meet those expectations, but only time will tell.  

Article by Matt Graziano


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