It’s inexplicable to me how fans (and pundits) could look at the 2018 NY Yankees at the beginning of the season and think they’re destined, even on paper, to be a playoff team, much less World Series contenders.
I don’t think this is a bad team, but let’s break it down:
The rotation is the same as 2017, counting on CC Sabathia at one year older and Jordan Montgomery in his sophomore season. That’s not to say that either of them will do poorly, but it’s not unrealistic to think one or both might struggle (or, in CC’s case, deal with time on the DL just for his knee).
Other than the starting rotation, the team has little proven rotation depth (yeah, I’m not excited about Luis Cessa and the rest of the AAA corps that has little to no MLB experience). Cashman made some attempts to shore up the rotation (and depth) but was either limited by trade proposals he couldn’t agree to or the luxury tax threshold.
Giancarlo Stanton is a Yankee! Yay! But, that’s just one piece of the puzzle. No matter what the potential is of Miguel Andujar, Gleyber Torres, Tyler Wade, or any of the prospects, how can anyone really count on them until they prove they belong? We’ve already seen Wade and Andujar struggle (though Andujar seems to be getting into the swing of things), but it’s impossible to predict how they’ll perform over the course of a full MLB season (the same goes for Torres and his much-anticipated MLB debut).
Cashman’s acquisitions of Drury and Walker were unexciting, especially after trading away Starlin Castro and Chase Headley for salary relief (yes, the New York Yankees wanted salary relief, is this real life?). So, you wind up with some solid, if unexciting, placeholders for 3B and 2B while waiting to see if the prospects pan out.
Add these things together and I entered this season with low expectations. Sure, I was hoping to see back-to-back-to-back-to-back HRs from Judge, Sanchez, Stanton, and Didi (in any order) in every game (or as many as possible) but I know that’s an unrealistic expectation.
Like I said, I like this team. I would rather have low and somewhat realistic expectations until I’m given a reason to change them (and so far, I have none). The team’s performance in the first 16 games is not that surprising to me, nor is it concerning. This team does have a lot of talent, but it also has a lot of question marks.
There’s an old saying: Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. I feel like that’s what a lot of fans and the media did with the Yankees in 2018. They’re counting at least a few chickens before they hatch, and that just leads to disappointment.
That reminds me of another old saying: Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall not be disappointed.
No matter what happens, I try to always remember it's just a game.