It’s early in the season, and the Yankees are in last place. Not fighting for the top spot, or even in a wildcard run, but last place. Is this just a slow start or is this a sign of things to come for the future? Based on the current talent on this roster, and the improvements in the division, it seems the Yankees could see themselves in last place this season.
Alex Rodriguez’s retirement can’t come sooner as he’s gone from being one of the best power hitters in the league last season to being a complete liability this season. Mark Teixeira has struggled and has shown his age at 36 years old hitting under 250. Starlin Castro, who got off to a hot start the first week of baseball, has cooled off immensely as he’s hit under 200 over the past 2 weeks. These are just a few examples of how awful these Yankees have been throughout the season, and while Jacoby Ellsbury has been producing at his usual pace over the past few weeks, there’s only so much a player can actually do as the Yankees have gone from ranking 2nd in runs scored last season, to 21st this season. The old players on this roster have not been able to produce at a decent level, and seem to be done at this point in their careers.
During the late 1990’s, when the Yankees weren’t able to produce runs at a rate like the other American League teams, they were able to win with their starting pitchers including David Wells, David Cone, Andy Pettitte, and Roger Clemens. The current Yankees have pitchers such as Nathan Eovaldi, Luis Severino, and Michael Pineda who have a grand total of 1 win combined. CC Sabathia also has been pitching with a lot of problems as he is the owner of a 5.28 ERA. The only shining light in this pitching staff has been Masahiro Tanaka, but the problem with having 1 pitcher is having 4 other days of uncertainty. This Yankees team ranks 22nd in quality starts, and 18th in Earned Run Average, mostly because their relief pitching has been so dominant. The one hope is that this is a young pitching staff, so improvements might be made, although that might be too optimistic. While the Yankees struggle to play winning baseball, there is a small reason to hope if you’re a Yankee fan, and that’s free agency.
In every sport, there’s an offseason where free agents can be signed to help a franchise in need. Next season, starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg will be an unrestricted free agent, and being under 27 years old will attract many teams, one of them the Yankees who desperately need a starting pitcher. Not only will Strasburg be a free agent, in two seasons, the Washington Nationals Right Fielder Bryce Harper, who’s currently the league leader in home runs and in runs batted in will become a free agent. These free agents may be very important for the Yankees to achieve any level of success for the future, as they are notorious for going very aggressive on trading and buying high-quality players during the offseason. In 2009, the Yankees acquired two key components of the world series winning team that season in Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia, and a few years before that they acquired both Gary Sheffield through free agency and Alex Rodriguez through trade, all within the same season. For right now, these Yankees may appear to be a shell of themselves, but it’s possible in two years these Yankees can be great again.