As much as weâ€™d like the New York Yankees to have a smooth season that isnâ€™t impacted by injuries, that likely wonâ€™t be the case. The Yankees regularly deal with issues in the injury department, but hopefully, new strength and conditioning Director Eric Cressey can turn things around. Heâ€™s already reduced the heavy weight lifting that Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have been participating in over the past few seasons in hopes that it will increase their stamina and longevity.
Currently, the Yankees are taking a few risks at multiple positions, especially with their starting pitching rotation â€” Brian Cashman has elected to go a cost-efficient route, acquiring players that are coming off significant injuries. Luckily, his two starting acquisitions, Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon are both expected to be ready for Opening Day, and with spring training just days away, we will get a good look at what theyâ€™re capable of.
Nonetheless, it is only fair to be objective when looking at the team, so letâ€™s take a look at some of the weaker positions on the roster.
Ranking the three weakest positions on the New York Yankees’ roster:
1.) Starting pitching
Starting pitching remains the Yankees’ biggest weakness, simply because we donâ€™t know how theyâ€™re going to perform in 2021. Their only proven option is Gerrit Cole, and while some might look at Kluber as a guarantee, heâ€™s coming off two years with useless than 37 innings to his name. That doesnâ€™t exactly scream optimism, and based on that risk alone, it is hard to feel confident he will return to his former Cy Young self.
While Taillon is 100% healthy and ready to compete at the highest level, he is another starter that hasnâ€™t pitched much over the past two seasons. It is important we remain cautiously optimistic with this unit, as they are composed of unproven talent and injured players, but in the best-case scenario, they are one of the most intimidating groups in the league.
The catcher position is another spot there remains a serious liability. While management is confident Gary Sanchez can make a comeback, he has fallen off tremendously over the past two years. In 2020, he finished with a .147 average and struck out a career high 36%. He had just 10 homers and 24 RBIs, recording his first-ever negative WAR.
Relying on Sanchez might not be the best move, as he signed a one-year, $6 million extension for the 2021 season. In fact, it is surprising to see that he actually earned a raise despite his awful performance. Sanchez stated a few months ago that he was confused as to why he was benched for the postseason, and Cashman responded with a simple rebuttal. Take a look at his statistics.
If Sanchez flops, they will have to rely on Kyle Higashioka, and while he performed well through the end of the 2020 campaign, he isnâ€™t someone I feel comfortable relying on.
When considering Sanchezâ€™s batting and baserunning combine, he recorded negative numbers over two of the last three years, indicating a serious regression from his 2016-17 self. This position is gearing up to be a serious question mark heading into the season, but hopefully, Sanchez can stick and return to his glory days.
Offensively, the New York Yankees’ shortstop position is more than fine with Gleyber Torres, but defensively, things could get ugly quickly. Torres recorded a .933 fielding percentage in 2020, well below the league average at .973. His inability to make routine plays showed up daily, and if that issue is not resolved, the Yankees will once again be staring at a problem at SS. Luckily for them, the 2022 free-agent market is flush with SS talent.
Nonetheless, Torres is a decent stopgap who is an elite offensive player, and while he had a down 2020 season, the expectation is that he will bounce back with ease. Cashman even indicated that Torres is a better fit at second base, but after the retention of DJ LeMahieu, it will be interesting to see how the team utilizes the baby bomber moving forward.