It’s New Year’s Eve. The final day of 2017 means it’s the last day we have to put our resolutions together. I still haven’t made my own resolution(s) for 2018, but I wanted to see if I could help some of the 2018 Yankees out with theirs. Why focus on my own life when I can spend time telling others what to do, right?
Gary Sanchez - The ball is not lava
Sanchez has a power bat, and his cannon for an arm keeps the runing game in check. The Kraken was truly unleashed last year, though he does have one obvious flaw in his game: He lacks the ability to block pitches at the plate.
Sanchez led the league with 16 passed balls, becoming the focus of much scrutiny because of that. It resulted in Joe Girardi benching him and giving him lessons in the dugout during the game. It also drove people to propose starting Austin Romine in games. While the criticism was true, it was overblown.
The Kraken is one of the best catchers in baseball. The words “Austin Romine should start at catcher” must never be uttered when Sanchez is on the team, and yet they were. Fortunately, blocking pitches is something that can be learned, and hopefully Sanchez spends the offseason working on improving that part of his game.
Greg Bird - Be “The Word.”
Even though noted bird super-fan Tanya Bondurant left Pinstripe Alley, our collective love for the first baseman remains strong. Last year was supposed to be Bird’s breakout season. He would show why Brian Cashman referred to him as the best hitter in the Yankees’ system. Unfortunately, he fouled a ball off his foot at the end of spring training and thanks to strong incompetency from the team doctors, Bird missed most of 2017.
This led to getting more unfounded Nick Johnson comparisons, and someone* in the front office criticizing Bird’s desire to play. Once he received a proper diagnosis and had surgery, he came back to give the Yankees a much-needed boost at first base. Now it’s not fair to him but Bird needs to play a full season to restore some faith. May the real story of Bird be told in 2018. Ca-caw.
*Let’s be honest, it was probably Randy Levine
Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton - Maris and Mantle, who?
In 1961, Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle combined to hit 115 home runs in a single season. That still stands as the record for homers hit by teammates in one season. Judge and Stanton combined for 111 home runs in 2017, which would have been good for second all-time, edging out Barry Bonds and Rich Aurelia’s combined 110 for the 2001 Giants.
Sure it’s probably unreasonable to expect both Judge and Stanton to hit 50+ home runs again, but they should still aim for it. It’s fun. Give me all the dingers, dongs, bombs, moon shots, taters, jacks, and any term in the book.
Gleyber Torres - Make the job yours.
In an ideal world, Torres will seize the opportunity and take one of the openings at second or third base. Before sending Starlin Castro and Chase Headley away, Cashman said Torres would come into spring training with a chance to earn a starting job. That chance is even greater now. He’s going to get his shot; he just needs to take it and make the job his.
Masahiro Tanaka - Be Mewnaka again.
In 2016, Nintendo celebrated the 20th anniversary of Pokemon Red and Blue being released in Japan. To commemorate the occasion, former editor Andrew Mearns imagined the Yankees’ roster as Pokemon. I suggested that Tanaka should be the team’s Mew and offered this up as my reasoning:
Because they're adorable and I want to hug them both. Oh and they're hella powerful.
That year Tanaka certified himself as the team’s ace, leading the team with 199.2 innings pitched to the tune of a 3.07 ERA and 140 ERA+. The 2017 Tanaka story is as well-known as it is awful. In nine of his 30 starts, he allowed five runs or more. He tied for fourth in the majors with 35 home runs allowed. Fortunately, in the second half and especially in the postseason, Tanaka showed signs of what made him so good again.
In his three 2017 postseason starts, he came up in a big way with 18 strikeouts, no home runs allowed, and a 0.90 ERA. If he truly rediscovered himself and can build off that, he gives the Yankees a legitimate “1B” to Luis Severino’s “1A.”
Dellin Betances - Find the zone and remember the zone.
When Betances is on, he’s one of the most unhittable pitchers in baseball. I’ve said that many times before and I stand by it. He does, however, have issues with his command and finding the strike zone consistently. He knows where it is, I’ve seen him locate it many times before, but he needs to be able to do that regularly. If he can do that, the best bullpen in the majors becomes that much better.
Aaron Boone - Fill the shoes
Joe Girardi was one of the best managers in baseball and yet the Yankees chose not to bring him back. I’m not here to say they were right or wrong, the decision has been made and there’s nothing that can be done about that. Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner have, however, tabbed Boone to replace Girardi.
Boone has no prior experience managing or coaching. Yet, he’s been handed a team that has legitimate World Series expectations, one that got even better with the addition of Stanton. One can only hope it’s not too much for the rookie manager to handle. His every move is going to be hyper-scrutinized, considering the timing of his hire. He doesn’t have to be Girardi, but he does have some large shoes to fill.
These are obviously just a few suggestions. What other resolutions should other Yankees make?