The Yankees had a lot of question marks going into the offseason, but have so far done little to alleviate any of them. They brought Chase Headley back to ensure that they don't have to rely on Alex Rodriguez at third base, but after trading Shane Greene for Didi Gregorius, they have even more holes in their rotation at this point. If they're not going to sign Jon Lester or Max Scherzer, it means the Yankees are betting against injury once again, and like we've seen before, they are going to lose.
For some reason, the Yankees think that they can get away with relying on injury risks. They paid Kevin Youkilis $12 million to play 28 games, relied on Eric Chavez to play backup to Alex Rodriguez, counted on the likes of Nick Johnson and Travis Hafner to be their everyday DH, ignored Mark Teixeira's wrist injury, and pretended Derek Jeter's ankle was perfectly fine. And yet here they are, still taking chances on injured players without a solid backup plan.
They might have a solid 1-2 combination at the top of the rotation, but none of their starters come without question marks of their own. It seems that the Yankees are fine with hoping for the best:
"In the back of your mind, there's some questions marks," Girardi said. "Michael Pineda has not thrown 200 innings in a while," which is true only if "a while" is the same as "never."
"CC [Sabathia] is coming off his injury," a chronic knee problem that may never go away. "Yeah, we feel good about it, but until you get into the rigors of the season you're not really sure exactly what's going to happen. And [Masahiro] Tanaka is coming off an [elbow] injury, and we feel good about that. But like I said about CC, you have to go through it."
It's one thing to look for upside and another to hope that everything goes right. If we've learned anything over the years as fans, it's that nothing every goes as planned. You'd think the Yankees would know that by now. The team picked to win the World Series in November never gets there, the players we expect to be there can let us down, and the people we don't expect come out of nowhere. It's fine that the Yankees have a load of questions surrounding Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and CC Sabathia, but the problem is that they're not compensating for those uncertainties. The Yankees still don't have a fourth or fifth starter, even after signing Chris Capuano, they don't exactly have a stacked bullpen outside of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller after David Robertson left, and they haven't compensated by going after offense to make up for the weak starting pitching and older veterans.
In 2014, the debate was whether or not the pitching or the hitting was the team's biggest problem. The team eventually figured out the pitching part, but the offense never materialized as Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran, and Brian McCann had disappointing and/or injury-plagued seasons all at the same time. It's not like they have much room on the roster or in their payroll to make up for those bats, but it would have been nice to see them figure something out:
Re: Yankee comments: yes, offense is biggest problem but they aren't going to address it. Counting on rebounds from Beltran, Teixeira, etc.— John Harper (@NYDNHarper) December 9, 2014
They could have probably done better than Chris Young as a fourth outfielder, they still need a backup first baseman–something they're likely not going to go with once again–and Gregorius might not be the answer they were looking for. They're simply hoping that Teixeira, Beltran, and McCann rebound and that Tex and Beltran are healthy again. Now that Teixeira has dealt with nagging injuries over the last few seasons and Beltran is 37 and coming off elbow surgery, they really can't expect them to be healthy going forward. Then there's the whole A-Rod thing. They moved him out of the starting infield, but they're still going to need him to be healthy, which is something he hasn't been in years.
Without any type of minor league depth in the field or in the rotation, the Yankees have to hope that everything works out until at least July. Depending on who they fill the rotation with, maybe they'll be better out of the gate than they were in 2014, but can it last? Can Tanaka, Pineda, CC, A-Rod, Beltran, and Teixeira all stay healthy for the majority of the year? Can even a majority? And let's hope no one else happens to get hurt, because it doesn't look like they'll have the depth to make up for it. Don't be surprised if things go wrong.