Baseball fans across the world unite in celebrating Opening Day 2019 on Thursday, March 28th. After an offseason full of surprising twists and turns, the New York Yankees have built a roster that they hope will hoist a championship trophy at the end of the season.
Yankees Manager Aaron Boone did the talk show circuit yesterday and spoke with Mike Francesa On Mike and with Michael Kay on his show about the construction of the roster for Opening Day and beyond, the decision he hasn’t had to make about Luke Voit and Greg Bird and the team’s goal of winning a championship.
Michael Kay asked Boone if this year’s team was better than the ’18 team and he very confidently said ‘Yes,” because it is deeper than last year, more versatile and the pitching is better. Most Yankee fans would agree that the additions and improvements made over the offseason in these three areas make the ’19 Yankees a better team.
The acquisition of DJ LeMahieu significantly improved the depth off the bench of the utility position and added more versatility to the position, as LeMahieu played at all three bases in Spring Training in preparation for the role. There’s no need to rehash the numbers, it’s a given that LeMahieu was a solid pickup for the Yankees with his Gold Gloves and lifetime .298 batting average.
Boone also has the luxury, with Aaron Hicks sidelined with a back injury, of carrying two first baseman, righty Luke Voit and lefty Greg Bird. The two first basemen give him the versatility of playing them both, with one or the other as the DH.
Boone said of Voit and Bird that neither separated himself from the other and both were among the top impact first basemen in the league. Voit came into camp and delivered as he had last season after coming to the Yankees. Boone said Voit has improved defensively.
Bird, Boone said, from the first time he saw him hit in spring, was impacting the ball differently. He put on weight over the offseason in a good way, to strengthen his power stroke this season.
Boone also now has versatility in the outfield with the acquisition on March 24th of Mike Tauchman, who was traded from the Rockies for RHP Phillip Diehl. Tauchman plays all three outfield positions and has been a hitting machine in the minor leagues for Colorado, but has never had much success in the big leagues and the Yankees are hoping he’ll be another Voit – a good hitter who just needs to play regularly in the big leagues to improve his offense.
Tauchman was immediately added to the roster ousting Tyler Wade from a position with the club. The Yankees felt Wade lacked the experience and versatility in the outfield that they needed with Hicks out.
The Yankees re-signed CC Sabathia , JA Happ and Zack Britton as parts of the solution to the pitching issues identified by Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner in many interviews in the offseason, in which he said he felt pitching was the area of greatest need for the team.
The Yankees added LHP James Paxton and RHP Adam Ottavino to bolster the rotation and the bullpen and the spring each has had for the Yankees has met or exceeded expectations. Paxton pitched to a 2.03 ERA in 17.1 innings pitched with 1 HR, 19 SO, 11 H. Ottavino debuted his nasty stuff for Yankee fans who suddenly forgot who David Robinson was.
Boone has his sights set on a championship in ’19. The Yankees offseason moves will be tested and their success judged on the number of wins the team has at season’s end. Let’s celebrate the ’19 Yankees and believe that they will hoist the trophy in October.