The 2016 season was a roller coaster for Yankee fans throughout the year. For awhile, fans had given up hope. Earlier on in the season, it was evident that Alex Rodriguez could not push forward much longer, given his on-field production. After A-Rod’s last game, it seemed as though the season ended.
Because, not soon thereafter, the Baby Bombers completely revolutionized the squad. Turning what even the owners felt was a wash of a season, to a team that had a chance to make the playoffs. With that “Never Say Die” spirit that the Yankees had adopted, there was a possibility of flirting with a World Series run, should the Yankees had made the playoffs.
However, the Yankees fell into a slump towards the end of the season, which really halted the chances that they had. Ultimately, the season would conclude with Baltimore defeating Toronto in their September 29th game as their final nail in the coffin.
However, with that being said, while there were negatives in their 2016 season, I personally believe there are more positives to take away than negatives.
Two Positives: Mark Teixeira And Alex Rodriguez Are Gone
A-Rod: As mentioned earlier, it became evident as the season went on, that Rodriguez’s age and injury history has finally caught up with him. Rodriguez batted with a .200 batting average to go with just 9 home runs and 31 RBI’s over 225 at bats. It was hard to recognize the man that is fourth in all-time home runs in his career. So, Rodriguez did the right thing for both himself and the team in retiring early. This keeps that one active roster spot and DH spot open, which Rodriguez would have occupied if he stuck around for next season.
Teixeira: Another man that had an APB on him for most of his season was Mark Teixeira. Tex has an underwhelming season, batting .205 with 15 home runs and 43 RBI’s as of 9/30/16. It’s especially a disappointment when you consider the comeback season that he had back in 2015.
However, the injury bug has haunted Tex the past couple of years. Severely damaging his ability to be one of the most dangerous first basemen in the league, like he once was. This was evident to him, more so then even the Yankee fans have seen. He announced a couple of weeks ago, that he will be hanging it up at the end of the season.
Once again, like Rodriguez, this was both good for Tex and the team. For Tex, he doesn’t risk permanently injuring himself down the line and also helps preserve his legacy so that fans don’t forget that he was one of the best switch hitters that the game has ever seen.
For the team, this clears up a spot for Greg Bird and other prospects to man first base and clears up a roster spot in general for another rookie to get a chance to show what they bring to the table.
Negative: Losing Greg Bird For 2016
After Greg Bird made the impact that he did towards the end of the 2015 season, fans wondered who would be manning first base this season. Would Greg Bird be sent down to the minor leagues for the year or would be wasted on the bench as Mark Teixeira still had one more year left on his contract?
Well, unfortunately for the franchise, the injury bug made that decision for them. A tear in Bird’s shoulder labrum would sideline the young star for the 2016 season. This one is a negative anyway that you look at it.
So, of course, Bird wasn’t wasted on the bench or degraded to the minor leagues for another season after he made it clear that he had the ability to make it on the major league level. However, this injury could potentially force him to take a couple of step backs in his career.
Will Bird come back and be able to play like he was prior to the injury? Bird also missed out on some more major league experience and fans didn’t get see how he would have meshed with the other Baby Bombers.
Positive: Cashman Successful At The Trade Deadline
As the Yankees were lurking towards the trade deadline if 2016, the feeling was that the season was over. So, Cashman decided to sell some top players in exchange for top prospects, in a build towards the future.
The Yankees traded Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman and Carlos Beltran for an influx of prospects. Turning an already good farm system into one of the best farms in baseball. And unintentionally or not, the team completely turned around after these trades.
The team traded away their top hitter and two top relievers and went on to do better without them. Making a run at the playoffs and almost made it there. Once again, thanks to the Baby Bombers.
Negative: Losing Nathan Eovaldi
Nathan Eovaldi will be needing Tommy John surgery which will sideline him until 2018 at the latest. This is a big negative for the Yankees. However, to be clear. Nathan Eovaldi wasn’t the heart of the Yankees rotation and was inconsistent throughout his shortened 2016 season.
However, Eovaldi is still just 26 years of age and clearly has the stuff to become a successful pitcher for the Yankees. Improvement needed indeed, but Eovaldi seemed to have potential since the Yankees received him in a trade with Miami during the 2014-2015 offseason.
Any potential growth for the pitcher is going to have to take a pause until 2018. While Eovaldi wasn’t performing as a top of the rotation kind of pitcher, the Yankees will miss him at the bottom of the rotation. Especially when you consider the lack of pitching depth that they currently are holding as an Achilles heel.
Positive: Veterans Prove To Still Have Value
Unlike previous years, the Yankees are now one of the younger teams in baseball. The veterans that are still standing on the team such as CC Sabathia, Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Brett Gardner prove to still have value for the team.
Now, if the Yankees have the opportunity to trade any of these men, of course, they should jump at the chance when you consider the trend that the Yankees have now taken on. However, should these guys stick around for next season, they prove to still have value that go beyond stats.
Most of the veteran’s numbers weren’t overwhelming whatsoever for the team. However, experience does go a long way. Gardner has stepped up to become a leader on the team and proves to be a good influence on the other players when you consider his energy that he plays with.
Should the Yankees reach the playoffs next season, Sabathia and Ellsbury can help lead the way as they have reached the promise land before. McCann can continue to spread his knowledge around the team, especially to catcher Gary Sanchez. Though, Sanchez has proven he’s clearly able to stand up on his two feet… Speaking of which, we’ll get to him in a little bit.
Negative: Starting Pitching
As the Yankees currently stand, the leader of the pitching rotation is pretty clear. Masahiro Tanaka is the ace of the rotation. Joining him is the young Luis Severino. Severino started the season off really shaky which would ultimately get him called down to the minor leagues.
Severino however, showed his potential towards the end of the season, and the future still does seem bright for him. Sabathia has successfully transformed into a finesse pitcher and has proven to be a reliable starter in the later stages of his career.
However, it gets scary after that. Michael Pineda has plenty of issues with his game. He is a guy who has the stuff to be great but hasn’t shown the ability to know how to use it. His inconsistency really hurt him this year. He went 6-11 with a 4.68 ERA. There is potential that he works on himself over the offseason and becomes a solid pitcher for the Yankees, but that’s something we have no evidence to believe will happen.
After that, you might as well just pick and choose. The depth could be worse, but there is no clear guy that Yankee fans can currently look for. The free agent market isn’t looking great either, so we’ll have to see who steps up. But as of right now, there is no clear candidate.
POSITIVE: GARY FREAKING SANCHEZ
Gary Sanchez may very be the best story that Yankee fans will remember and take away from the 2016 season. There was a lot of anticipation for the Yankees’ youngsters to get a chance to show what they bring to the table.
How about 20 home runs in less than 2 months? Something that no player has ever been able to start their career with. Sanchez in two months smacked 20 home runs to go with a .299 batting average and 42 RBI’s.
The sensational start to get his career has bought him a decent shot at being the AL Rookie of the Year. Should Sanchez be awarded the honor, he will become the first Yankee to hold the honor since the great Derek Jeter.
Negative: Aaron Judge (Sort Of)
Aaron Judge was easily one of the most anticipated Yankee debuts this season. Judge is loaded with potential. His size and power at the plate scream at least a couple of 30+ home run seasons down the line.
However, he wasn’t able to show much of the promise. Judge made an immediate impact. He smacked a home run in his debut game. And would later have a two-homerun game. However, Judge doesn’t have much else to take home from his short stint.
His batting average was at .179 and he struck for 50% of his at bats (84 at bats, struck out 42 times) in the 27 games he played.
This doesn’t necessarily mean Judge himself is a negative and is going to be a bust. However, a better performance by Judge this particular season could have made the Yankees’ playoff hopes a bit more realistic. I do still assume that the future will be bright for the 6 foot 7 rookie.
Positive: Potential Spread All Around The Team
One of the clear positives for the Yankees is that they pretty much have at least 1 youngster with a ton of potential at each position on the baseball field.
Starting with Gary Sanchez, of course, who seems to be a future star. Players such a Jorge Mateo, Rob Refsnyder, Mason Williams, Clint Frazier, Ronald Torreyes and more, all have a shot at being a diamond that the Yankees were able to pick up. Aaron Judge, though he had an underwhelming start, could still be big time. Greg Bird is also still on the minds of Yankee fans. Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorious also still can improve on their already solid production.
Though, the Yankees were able to experience some prosperity following the trade deadline, with their rookies providing an immediate impact. However, it’s extremely clear that Andrew Martin and Aroldis Chapman were missed during the remaining 2 months of the season.
Dellin Bentances has a promising future as well and has proven to be a great weapon for the Yankees to have in the bullpen. However, it seems as though, Bentances isn’t made for the closer role.
Bentances blew 5 critical saves as he took over the closer role in the later months of the season. The rest of the bullpen wasn’t that great either, so what was once the Yankees’ strength, has turned into a weakness. I expect the Yankees to make some reinforcements over the offseason, though.
Positive: Experience Gained From The Faced Adversity
The Yankees put up a great fight towards the end of the season to make a run at the playoffs but unfortunately were unable to pull it out. The team didn’t quit until they were officially out of the running and felt utter disappointment.
However, with that being said, the Baby Bombers gained some invaluable experience for their bright futures. Sanchez and others have felt what a playoff push feels like within 2 months of their young careers and almost pulled it off.
The Baby Bombers will be able to take the adversity and the things that they learned for the greater good. As next season, if the Yankees are in the same position, it will not feel like foreign territory. The Yankees had an overall productive season.
Are there any negatives or positives that I may have missed? Let me know!