At last, we are finally just a few minutes away from the start of the 2023 MLB season. In his column, New York Yankees: Lower your Expectations, John says “I’m excited … but I’m not excited.” Which I totally understand. To cut a wrestling promo from my favorite, Macho Man, Randy Savage.
“And who had to come in and make that critical save!? The Macho Man, Randy Savage(me, Barnes)! COVERING FOR HOGAN (John) AGAIN! Hogan (John), I only come down to your matches (columns) when it’s absolutely necessary. WHEN YOU’RE DOWN AND OUT! That’s the kind of rules I play by…You gotta get in your grandstandin’ and hot doggin’, don’t’cha, YEA?!”
I’m here to tell you that I’m excited, and what I’ll be watching during this 2023 season.
Just a few days before I was about to celebrate Christmas with my family, I, as well as the rest of the Yankees fanbase, was gifted with something. Something we haven’t had since 2014.
A team captain.
Aaron Judge was officially named team captain on December 21, 2022. This was the first of a couple exciting things that the Yankees did over the offseason. I’m really looking forward to seeing how his captaincy starts to rub off on the rest of the club house. When the World Baseball Classic rosters were coming out, most fans were saying that the AL MVP should be on the roster. Judge, in an interview with FOX Sports, said:
“It would be an honor to represent my country and play in that, but my main goal is what I can do here in New York and what I can do to bring a championship back here. I think especially after signing a nine-year contract, for me, priorities are New York. Maybe four years down the road, hopefully I can still make the team and get an opportunity to play. But right now for me, my focus is here.”
That is definitely something you want to hear from the newly-appointed captain. I think it’s a huge statement for the clubhouse, and that it’s something teammates can rally behind.
It’s plain and easy to see that the New York Yankees have a star studded lineup. What I’ll be watching in 2023 is how these stars will be impacting the team. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the window of opportunity for the New York Yankees is now and for the next 5 years.
Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton will all be playing with each other for the next couple years. With those four stars as the hub for team production, we should see a lot of good things. In a recent podcast episode, John said that Stanton is his guy. Kassem, for his part, has said Gleyber Torres is his guy. We’ll need a lot of different contributors for this Yankees team.
But of course we are watching the stars, Barnes. Why is that important?
The offensive stars were nowhere to be found come the 2022 playoffs.
Aaron Judge went 5-36. Gleyber Torres was 6-34. Stanton was 6-32.
Outside of Harrison Bader, Anthony Rizzo, and (I hate to break it to you) the guy y’all hated so much, IKF (5-18), no one hit the ball in the postseason.
The pitchers weren’t much better. Cole put some hate to rest by having a better postseason, but six earned runs over 18.1 innings isn’t what you want to see from your ace. Cortes, everyone’s favorite pitcher, allowed six earned runs over 12 innings. A personal favorite of mine, Severino, gave up six earned runs over 11 innings. Hopefully, new addition Carlos Rodon can get healthy, have a great season, and take some pressure off of some of the other guys.
Taking out the Trash
There’s no hiding it, the Yankees have plenty of log jams at a bunch of different positions, most notably in the middle infield. So let’s start with the fact that at the moment of writing this, the Yankees in spring training were trying out Isiah Kiner-Falefa in center field. IKF, a gold glove third baseman in 2020, has been playing shortstop because they have a log jam at third base of Josh Donaldson and DJ LeMahieu. So moving IKF to SS makes sense, right?
Well, here’s another problem. Oswald Peraza, who plays shortstop, is called up. Maybe we can move him to second base? Wait, that’s where Gleyber is. Can Gleyber DH? Wait, that’s for Stanton or DJ.
There’s just too many guys on the big league team. There is also a bunch of talent in the minor leagues. I can’t wait to see the Yankees finally get rid of some of these guys. Donaldson, he’s got to go. Hicks, he’s got to go. Florial, he’s got to go. Effross, Montas, Trivino, someone in the middle infield … there are a handful of players that need to get off this team, and I’ll be eating it up when they are gone.
In case you were living under a rock, there are some young fellas that burned bright in spring training 2023. Although we saw what Oswaldo Cabrera could do during the 2022 season, he had an awesome spring training in 2023. There were also some other guys from the minors that burned bright. Where do I begin?
Oh, ummm … ANTHONY VOLPE. But it wasn’t just Volpe that showed up.
Jasson Dominguez. Yea, he’s a guy. I had the pleasure of seeing him play during 2022 during his time with the Somerset Patriots, the AA Yankees affiliate. Andres Chaparro also had a pretty spectacular spring training with four homers. While these next two are quite some time away from the majors, Elijah Dunham and Spencer Jones also had reasonable showings during the spring showcase.
Then there’s Trey Sweeney, whom I absolutely love. If you’re excited about Volpe, keep your eye on Sweeney. He’s another one of the guys that can play shortstop, but I could see Sweeney making the transition to third base. He’s got a little bit more pop than Volpe, so I imagine Sweeney having some better power numbers than Volpe in the future. Not to make this type of comparison this early, but maybe a Jeter and ARod vibe? *shrug* I’m dreaming big.
There’s a lot of young fellas that are coming up, and that’s not even including the pitchers!
There’s a lot to watch from the New York Yankees in 2023. The team, by and large, is the same. There are a couple new names on the roster, but we’ve still got the same expectations.
Here’s hoping that you have a couple new things to look for day in and day out this year beyond the games.
Let’s go Yankees!
– Ya Boy, Barnes