The Yankees may have traded their best hitter in Carlos Beltran, but Didi Gregorius is certainly capable of taking over the title. The Yankees may have traded Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, but Dellin Betances is more than ready to be the next dominant New York closer. The Yankees have traded away Ivan Nova, but...well, that may actually help them.
Although the Yankees are a much weakened team after dealing some of their best assets, they aren’t without hope. There still exists significant talent on the roster, and although a revolving door in the fifth starting role, the Scranton Shuttle dominating the bullpen, and that Aaron Hicks character manning right field are all far from optimal, there are still things to be excited about on the Yankees.
You weren’t the only person that felt it—watching the Yankees is fun again. Finally, every run scored doesn’t feel like an unfortunate blow to Brian Cashman’s plan to sell, and every win doesn’t inch the Yankees up the standings in a hopeless endeavor for a non-playoff team. Success is no longer a double-edged sword, pushing the team further and further away from selling at the trade deadline. The Yankees are past that now, and fans get to enjoy wins in the Bronx without feeling guilty.
Sure, there won’t be as many wins to enjoy now, because the Yankees are worse. They probably aren’t going to play .600 ball the rest of the way and make the playoffs. But watching the Yankees is fun! The team is playing loose, showing aggression on the basepaths, and there is a bright future ahead.
Although CC Sabathia had a less-than-enjoyable start, ceding five runs over 5.2 innings (including eight hits and three walks, with five strikeouts), there were positives to focus on. Although Dellin Betances pulled a David Robertson and gave us all a heart attack before sealing the game in the tenth, it wasn’t all bad.
Sabathia, as morbid as it sounds to say it, isn’t part of the long term plan. Seeing a former rotation stalwart struggle once again isn’t pretty, but it’s not anything worth pulling hair out over. Betances lost his command and, to put it lightly, scared the crap out of us, but he also has been lights out for three straight years and is undoubtedly built for success as the closer. A double and hit-by-pitch aren’t ideal, but Betances redeemed himself with nasty stuff and a strikeout to end the game.
Despite those nail-biting moments and not-so-positive aspects from the squad, there was also plenty to celebrate. Adam Warren and Tyler Clippard are Yankees again, and combined for three clean innings with four strikeouts and just one hit. Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury had identical lines of 2-4 with two runs, a double, an RBI, a walk, and a strikeout, and looked like the dynamic one-two punch to open the lineup that the Yankees always envisioned. Didi Gregorius may have only gone 1-5, but he had the biggest hit of the game on a two-run single to tie the score in the ninth. Starlin Castro hit the ball hard, and was rewarded with a go-ahead sacrafice fly in the top of the tenth inning to score Ellsbury.
Perhaps all of this sounds too positive for a team that, and don’t tell Joe Girardi I said this, waved the white flag just hours before first pitch, and it probably is a bit too optimistic. But the Yankees not only had a weight lifted off their shoulders at 4:00pm on Monday—they also turned a corner into a new era of baseball in the Bronx. The Yankees may not be very good right now, but they’re certainly fun to watch and root for.