The Yankees have failed to reach the playoffs, or even win 90 games, in two consecutive seasons for the first time in 20 years. For that reason, the case could be made that expectations for the Yankees this year will be lower than they've been in a very long time. As long as they show some improvement over the disappointing 2013 and 2014 campaigns and remain in playoff contention until the final day of the season they might be considered successful. However, this is the Yankees we're talking about. A franchise that's accustomed to winning a championship once every four years on average and who spent about half a billion dollars on trying to improve the roster just a year ago. Could anything short of a deep playoff run be called a success for a team in that situation? Where should the line of success versus disappointment really be drawn?
The moves Brian Cashman made this off-season were of a distinctly different flavor than those made last year. The upshot of that spending spree was supposed to be an immediate return to prominence, but obviously that didn't work out. In what could be considered an admission that money alone can't solve the problems with the Yankees roster, the approach was much more sober this time around. They retained a few of their own free agents but only if the price was right. They did the same with other free agents, avoiding high-priced mistakes. The roster also got a facelift in the form of trades for Didi Gregorius and Nathan Eovaldi, young players entering their prime that will be cost-controlled for at least a couple more years. The goal is still improvement, but this is of the slow, steady, long-term variety rather than the quick fixes pursued previously.
Despite these efforts, smart people out west aren't expecting much out of the Yankees this year and justifiably so. Those expectations no doubt take into account the age and injury history of most players on their roster, but what if the Yankees find luck to be on their side this year? If Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, and Alex Rodriguez somehow remain healthy and recapture the form they played at just a few years ago, great things could happen. In a division that will likely be relatively weak again, they could coast to an AL East crown with 90-plus wins and set themselves up for favorable playoff matchups on their way to the World Series. However, should the bar for success be set by taking the absolute most favorable scenario for this team as the baseline? Probably not.
Ultimately what should matter is that the Yankees take a step in the right direction in 2015. A good start would be to score more runs than they allow, something they failed to do in 2013 and 2014. If that happens, they should have no problem improving on the 84 wins they recorded last year. That alone would indicate that the franchise is back on the right track with further improvement just around the corner. In other words, that should be considered a successful season. With the additional wild card and shorter playoff series in Major League Baseball now they might even be able to sneak into the postseason and make some noise if they do. Even if it's a little premature to make it a requirement for success.
What will it take for you to consider the Yankees' 2015 campaign a success? Let us know in the poll below.