This past winter and spring, I was critical of the New York Yankees for not aggressively improving their team following a disappointing end to the 2012 season. I wondered why Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner Brothers were not upgrading an aging roster that had significant flaws. I questioned their commitment to spending the money necessary to build the Yankee Brand long-term. I thought the Steinbrenners were planning to sell the team. In the late winter and early spring the Yankees lost four of their best players, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter to serious injuries that would sideline them a minimum of two months. It’s possible that Arod, Tex and Derek could miss the entire season. Since the season started Kevin Youkilis, Francisco Cervelli, Eduardo Nunez, Ivan Nova and Joba Chamberlain have all suffered injuries forcing them to go on the disabled list for extended periods time. The Yankees have a high-priced All-Star Team on the disabled list.
Management did not panic like many Yankees fans including me. Prior to the season starting, they acquired several veteran players including Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay and Travis Hafner. All three players had sub par 2012 seasons and it appeared that their best years were a thing of the past. The Yankees also signed Brennan Boesch who was released by the Detroit Tigers and Chris Nelson who was cut by the Colorado Rockies. This seemed like a recipe for disaster. After a 1-4 start, it appeared that 2013 would be a long season in the Bronx. The Yankees seemed destined for last place in the competitive American League East. These late spring moves turned out to be a stroke of genius for GM Brian Cashman.
On May 12th, the Yankees have a 23-13 record, 10 games above 500, lead the American League East by a game and are tied for the second best record in baseball. The Yankees are a very entertaining baseball team that seems to find a way to win even with a depleted lineup. The Bronx has helped revitalize the careers of Wells, Overbay and Hafner who have all had excellent starts and delivered clutch hits, something that was missing last year. The starting pitching has been excellent. Mariano Rivera is 15 for 15 in save opportunities and leads a strong bullpen. Joe Girardi has done a masterful job piecing together a lineup with the players available to him.
Baseball is a hard sport to predict. Over a 162 game season your flaws tend to catch up with you. However, through 36 games, this team has been fun to watch and a pleasant surprise for a die-hard Yankee fan.
Do you think the Yankees will win the AL East this season?