Buster Olney of ESPN released some rankings on bullpens, offenses, and defenses around the league at this point of the offseason with the Yankees obviously coming out looking the best in the bullpen department. More moves could obviously happen at any point between now and when the team reports to spring training in Tampa, but this is how Olney sees them falling in amongst their competition as of right now. The results might be a little surprising.
With the addition of Andrew Miller and an overhaul in supporting cast, Olney ranks the Yankees' bullpen as second in baseball just behind the three-headed monster of the Kansas City Royals relievers. Miller and/or Dellin Betances are expected to close games down for New York in 2015, giving them a similar one-two punch that they had before David Robertson's departure. The Yankees have a wealth of young relief talent waiting in the wings for their call to the majors with last year's top draft pick and strikeout machine Jacob Lindgren leading the pack. If any of the relievers not named Betances or Miller should falter during the season there should be a rookie close by who is ready to step in and pick up the slack.
After upgrading their defense at multiple positions with the acquisition of Didi Gregorius and the signings of Chase Headley and Stephen Drew, Olney ranks the Yankees' defense as tenth best in the majors. The top spot once again goes to the Royals, who showed their knack for making tough defensive plays in last season's playoff run. Seeing as the Yankees have been used to having a defensively-challenged Derek Jeter manning shortstop and an ever-aging Alex Rodriguez at the hot corner, upgrading to the gloves of Gregorius and Headley should make the left side look pretty slick this season. The team will be depending on that upgraded defense to keep runs off the board to make less work for an offense than is something less than a juggernaut, to say the least.
The most surprising of Olney's rankings for the Yankees likely comes in the offense department where he has them ranked tenth in all of baseball. It's hard to imagine a team that just couldn't seem to score runs for long stretches last season being among the better hitting teams without adding a great bat to the mix, but perhaps Olney believes, as the Yankees front office seems to, that the under performers from last year will regress toward their career numbers in 2015. That's going to mean a lot is riding on the likes of Brian McCann, Mark Teixeira, and Carlos Beltran. It will also mean that Stephen Drew is going to have to be less of a disaster with the bat than he was in his brief stint in New York last season. Hopefully the team will be ready to swap him out for Rob Refsnyder or Jose Pirela if he fails to turn things around.
New York's starting rotation didn't make Olney's list, which could very well be due to the fact that it's hard to view it as any sure thing with all of the injury concerns surrounding Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and CC Sabathia. If those three are healthy and effective, the team should be in pretty good shape on the pitching front. If those three, or at least the first two, are unable to stay on the field it's going to get pretty ugly. Simple as that. Hopefully health is more on the team's side in 2015.
Do you think Olney is too optimistic or pessimistic about the Yankees as they currently stand? If he's right, how do you feel about the team's chances to snap their recent streak of sitting home in October?