For what it’s worth, I think Thanksgiving is the best holiday of the year. You see family, watch sports, and gorge on delicious food that you only have once a year. It’s also a time to take stock of what you have in your life, and what there is to be thankful for.
Yankees fans have a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving season. As we sit around the table and reminisce, let’s look at what Yankees fans should be thankful for.
1. Youth is still on this team’s side
The concept of “championship windows” is a slippery slope – they often begin earlier than expected and close far faster than anticipated. We can debate how long the Yankees’ championship window truly is, but we can’t really argue that this team is smack in the middle of its best chance to win a title right now.
Look up and down the roster. Only 10 players are over 30 years old, and only one (J.A. Happ) is over 35, which is when players truly start to go off the cliff. Aaron Judge is square in his prime entering his age-28 season, Gary Sanchez is just one year younger, and perhaps the team’s two most important stars, Luis Severino and Gleyber Torres, will just be 26 and 23 next season, respectively.
The Yankees are in a good spot right now – the makeup of the team is still young, but it’s not too young. The kids have mostly matured into established big leaguers who no longer make rookie mistakes, and the veterans are still fresh enough to provide value. I’m not going to put a cap on the Yankees’ “Championship Window,” but the team will be right in the sweet spot next season.
2. Gleyber Torres has become a star
We touched on him some earlier, but how could fans not be thankful for Gleyber Torres? The prize of the Aroldis Chapman trade in 2016 has become everything he was projected to be, and somehow even more. Through just two big league seasons, Torres has become a bonafide superstar.
He’s made the All-Star team both seasons of his young career, developed an unexpected power stroke, and improved almost all of his numbers from year to year. And he’s still just 23! Although his defense and baserunning are a work in progress, more time at his natural shortstop position might help him in the field in 2020.
Torres is one of the game’s most marketable young stars, and in terms of production, he’s very nearly in the Juan Soto, Ronald Acuna Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr. class. It’s not just New York media bias – Gleyber Torres has become a legitimate star, and will hopefully anchor the Yankees’ infield for the better part of a decade.
3. The team has found capable depth
If there was one good thing that came from the Yankees’ injury-plagued 2019 season, it was that the team discovered several depth players that can play crucial roles, if needed. Gio Urshela has become the club’s starting third baseman, Mike Tauchman looks slated to be the team’s fourth outfielder, and Kyle Higashioka might finally become the backup catcher after a decade in the minors. Even utility players like Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada had their moments last season, and could thrive with the expanded rosters in 2020.
The Yankees also have a hoard of pitching depth, from spare bullpen arms to well-regarded minor leaguers. Injuries can ruin a team, but the Yankees found a way to overcome that last season and grow stronger, and now they can retain most of those pieces as depth moving forward.
4. The pitching isn’t as far away as it seems
The one big bugaboo that keeps cropping up around these Yankees is its pitching. No matter what the team does, they just never seem to have enough high-quality arms to compete with the big boys. However, the team isn’t as far away as it may seem.
Luis Severino showed in limited time last year that he is still dominant after injury, and should reclaim has position as staff ace for years to come. Masahiro Tanaka is fairly reliable, and James Paxton is incredibly talented for a No. 3 starter. After those three, things get murky, but the team is just one acquisition away from having its best big-four of starting pitchers since 2009. Whether it’s an ace like Gerrit Cole or a second-tier piece like Madison Bumgarner or Zack Wheeler, the Yankees’ rotation could look quite good with just one more move, and some good health.
That’s not even factoring in the potential presence of top prospect Deivi Garcia, or a resurgence of sorts from Jordan Montgomery or J.A. Happ. The team’s rotation is just one domino away from becoming one of the best in the American League, and we already know that the bullpen is arguably the best in baseball.
While it will never be the biggest strength on the team, the Yankees’ pitching staff isn’t a complete wreck – in fact, it held an ERA of just 2.87 against the mighty Twins and Astros offenses in the playoffs. Fans should be thankful that the team’s pitching isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be, and is actually quite close to becoming a true asset.