I’m not hitting the panic button yet. It’s still April. The Yankees struggle in April and May nearly every season usually following up the early season months with a strong June through September. I’m confident the Yankees will be in the playoffs this year. The bats will eventually get hot. The division is good but not great. Tampa has our number right now, I hope and think the Yankees will find a way to overcome Tampa. Toronto has a really good lineup but minimal pitching depth. Baltimore is Baltimore. Boston is hot right now but are another team that lacks pitching depth. I don’t know who they start when Eovaldi and Rodriguez make their annual IL stints. The Yankees have the lineup, bullpen, and starting pitching to compete. The Yankees have more depth at starting pitching than the Red Sox. Cole, Taillon, Kluber, Monty, Garcia, Michael King, Clark Schmidt. Severino will eventually be back. German will probably get one more chance to turn his career around. The Yankees are going to be fine.
However, there are a few things about this team that have me concerned.
My biggest concern is defense. It really seems like Cashman and his analytics team really seem to put no emphasis on defense. We currently do not have a true shortstop or true catcher.
I like Gleyber Torres. I still hope for the best with Gary Sanchez though I’m really getting tired of his underachieving. I’m not picking on Gleyber Torres and Gary Sanchez. Three weeks into the season and this entire team has been playing sloppy baseball. This is Cashman and his baseball nerds thinking that weak defenders can hit their way out of the defensive liabilities. That’s nonsense. World Series winning teams play crisp, errorless defense. A team can’t hit its way out of defensive missteps in the playoffs. It seems like this team was built without taking defense into consideration.
My other concern is strictly a postseason concern. The Yankees bats are going to power them through the regular season. The lineup is filled with home run threats that feast off middle relievers that throw fastballs and not much else. That is great for the regular season but in the postseason, a team needs to manufacture runs. The Yankees lack contact hitters. At the moment, only DJ LeMahieu and Gio Urshela hit for contact and put the ball in play. Judge, Stanton, Frazier, and Sanchez are all home run guys that are going to whiff a lot instead of putting the ball in play. Torres looked like he had the potential to be a batting champ but he seems really pull oriented lately. He needs to get back to driving the ball and using the whole field. Aaron Hicks came to the Yankees as more of a contact hitter but has turned himself into a pull hitter as well. I liked Hicks a lot more a few years ago when he was hitting doubles and triples. He even had an inside the park home run (I think it was in Detroit) that was simply awesome to watch. I would love to get that contact hitting Aaron Hicks back. Not only to manufacture runs but he hasn’t been much of a power hitter yet this season anyway.
Luke Voit is an interesting hitter. I love his swing. His bat speed is phenomenal and he is so strong that he can drive the ball with power opposite field in any stadium. I love seeing Luke Voit locked in. He’s a contact hitter with power. When he uses the whole field, he’s one of the best hitters in the game. Can’t wait to have him back in the lineup.
The lack of contact hitting which decreases the ability to manufacture runs and sloppy defense are what worry me about this team. Those are postseason problems, the champagne problems of MLB. I’m not concerned about the regular season. Tampa is a real threat and Boston isn’t going anywhere. Let’s hope between now and September, Cashman and his baseball nerds can tighten the defense and either add a real hitter or convert Torres and Hicks back into contact hitters.