#1 HOW WILL AARON BOONE DO?
Aaron Boone is the new man at the helm of the Yankees lineup card. The question is how will he and the his coaching staff set the lineup. How will he handle the first losing streak ? How will he deploy the bullpen arms ? What will his style be? All questions we will have to wait to see.
#2 CAN TORRES & ANDUJAR TAKE HOLD OF 2ND & 3RD THIS SEASON?
Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar will come into camp with a true opportunity to compete for the opening at second and third base. Both top prospects will get a long look. Can Andujar show enough defensively ? Is Torres fully healed from TJ Surgery ?
#3 HOW MANY HOMERUNS WILL AARON JUDGE & GIANCARLO STANTON COMBINE FOR?
According to FanGraphs Steamer Projections the team itself is projected to have 238 homeruns. With Stanton and Judge set to obviously lead the pack with 90 combined (Stanton-53, Judge-37). Projections aren’t reality so it is possible that 90 could be a “low” homerun total. I know crazy that 2 players amounting to 90 is low but both guys combined for 111 in 2017 (on separate teams). So imagine the lineup with both sluggers together, how much damage can be done to baseballs by these two giants in 2018 ?
#4 DONT SLEEP ON CLINT FRAZIER !
A former top prospect (only because no longer considered a prospect due to service time) that is going into camp after an off-season of rumors and speculation that he would be on the move. Frazier remains in Pinstripes (which this writer is very glad about I might add), and set out to prove the skeptics and doubters wrong. Clint was a key piece in the Andrew Miller trade and his “legendary bat speed” as described by GM Brian Cashman is one of his main attributes. Frazier also has real fire and unbridled passion that he plays with (in my opinion think Paul O’Neill with red hair). Clint Frazier will light the world on fire & force the hand of the decision makers in dealing with the crowded outfield situation. Mark my words.
#5 WILL JACOBY ELLSBURY GET MOVED?
Speaking of the crowded outfield, will the “Magical Wizard” that is Brian Cashman be able to swing a deal and convince Ells to waive his “No Trade Clause” and get moved to another team this season ?
#6 WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM A HEALTHY GREG BIRD?
Greg Bird has been donned the first baseman of the future for the last 3 seasons. Since his cameo in 2015 when Mark Teixeira got injured down the stretch, we’ve been waiting for Bird to take hold of first base. Though dealing with a rash of injuries himself Bird hasn’t been able to stay on the field. After last season’s foot surgery that removed an extra bone in Bird’s foot he stepped back into the Yankees lineup. Now seemingly healthy Bird should have his name penciled into the lineup Between Judge & Stanton 145-150 times this coming season. If he is able to do that the question then becomes is 40 homeruns & 100 rbi’s out of the realm of possibility?
#7 WILL THE YANKEES ADD ANOTHER STARTING PITCHER?
All off-season long the Yankees have been tied in rumors and speculation to many starting pitchers. Both CC Sabathia & Luis Severino have both added there thoughts that another starter would only aid the team. So with the team already having the 5 starters that got them within 1 win of reaching the World Series back. Will they reaching into the free agent/trade markets to find additional help ?
#8 WHO WILL GET THE LAST SPOT IN THE YANKEES BULLPEN?
The Yankee bullpen has been donned “best bullpen in baseball history” by mlb.com’s Mike Petriello. That bullpen has strikeout artist & masters of escaping jams all throughout it. Adam Warren, Chad Green, Dellin Betances, Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson and Aroldis Chapman are locked into the bullpen. This leaves one maybe two spots open depending on how the bench plays out. So who gets the last spot ? A lefty specialist like Chasen Shreve ? A true potential long man/6th starter type like Domingo German or Luis Cessa ? Another hard throwing right hander like Jonathan Holder or Ben Heller ? Or maybe the unknown commodities of a Chance Adams or Justus Sheffield ? We will find out in just a few short weeks.
#9 HOW WILL THE RF/DH ROTATION PLAY OUT?
New manager Aaron Boone will have the responsibility/luxury of having to pencil in Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton into the Right Field and Designated Hitter positions. However don’t expect it to be a 50/50 split. Also it may not be just in right field that we see both of these guys. As new outfield coach Reggie Wilts will be working with both Judge and Stanton to play in left field as well. So we will see just how the position gets divided up.
#10 CAN AARON JUDGE AVOID THE DREADED SOPHOMORE SLUMP?
As has been since the beginning of the game, players have had to make adjustments. None more than rookies, as once the league gets a “book” or more colloquially known a scouting report on a player adjustments have to be made. Judge had to make adjustments last season in dealing with a minor shoulder injury. But in his second season can he adjust to the new way that teams will attack him ? We will find out starting March 29th in Toronto.
#11 CAN JORDAN MONTGOMERY LOCK DOWN A ROTATION SPOT?
Jordan Montgomery can out of nowhere in 2017 and pitched incredibly well. Monty lead all rookie pitchers in a number of categories. Yet this off-season all the talk has been about the Yankees adding more pitching. So the question one must ask is can Monty build on his success in 2017 and solidify his position in the Yankees rotation ?
#12 OVER/UNDER: PECOTA PROJECTIONS 96 WINS?
According to the annual PECOTA projections the New York Yankees will win 96 games. A very high number, only 3 teams project higher (Astros/Dodgers-99, Indians-97). With expectations in the Bronx already sky high after finishing within one game if the World Series in 2017. The Yankees know a target will be on their backs come 2018. Can they “embrace the hate” and go higher than the projected 96 wins ? No will the pressure be too much and they fall just under that estimated win total ?
#13 WHAT WILL TYLER WADE’S ROLE BE?
Tyler Wade is one of the more interesting pieces to the 2018 New York Yankees puzzle. Wade has become extremely versatile being able to play a number of positions. He is capable of playing second, third, shortstop and all three outfield positions (and if in a pinch I’m sure first is also an option). Wade will be among the plethora of prospects and middle infield veterans that will be competing for the openings at second and third base. With the league wide belief that the Yankees will manipulate Gleyber Torres’ service time by keeping him in the minors for a few weeks, can Tyler Wade show enough in Spring Training to grab hold of the “Opening Day” job. Then once Gleyber does join the Bronx Zoo what kind of opportunities will Wade have on this team ? Do the Yankees have the new Ben Zobrist ? Will he be given the time to show what he is truly capable of ?
#14 CAN GARY SANCHEZ MAKE THE NECESSARY DEFENSIVE ADJUSTMENTS?
Gary Sanchez is one of the best catchers in Major League Baseball. Yes he had some gaffs last season with blocking balls. However, every other defensive responsibility that catchers must handle Gary was well above average. So the question will be can Gary improve in this weak spot in his game ?
#15 WILL WE SEE CHANCE ADAMS AND/OR JUSTUS SHEFFIELD IN THE BRONX IN 2018?
The Yankees top two pitching prospects are in camp this Spring and expected to get a long look before going down to start the year at Triple A. However, the question remains if a major injury occurs, will the Yankee call on one of these top prospects ?
#16 CAN LUIS SEVERINO TAKE HOME THE CY YOUNG IN 2018?
Luis Severino took a huge step forward in his development in 2017. Which was made clear when he finished in 3rd place of the AL Cy Young voting behind only Corey Kluber (Indians) and Chris Sale (Red Sox). Can Sevvy take that next step and become the Ace in the American League and take home the 2018 AL Cy Young Award ?
#17 WILL THE YANKEES ACTUAL STAY UNDER THE $197 LUXURY TAX THRESHOLD?
The New York Yankees management has been very clear that the $197 Million Dollar Luxury Tax Threshold will not be passed this season. However, with two vacancies set to be filled by prospects or veterans trying to prove they can still play at the Major League level. Can the Yankees really afford to not pass the threshold by ? Will the Yankees not make trades mid-season to get better like they did last season for fear of passing the threshold ? Will this mandate of staying under the threshold at all cost…cost them the World Series crown in 2018 ?
#18 CAN THE YANKEES GET BRYCE HARPER AND/OR MANNY MACHADO?
The two hottest commodities to ever hit the free agent market are Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. These two guys are franchise transcending type talents. They can take your ball club to a whole new level. Both will be highly sought after in the off-season of 2018-2019. The Yankees have been upfront about the fact that staying under the luxury tax threshold in this season is objective number 1. With good reason this will allow them to reset the penalties they have incurred for years by being over the limit consistently. This reset will give them the chance to splurge once again following the season. The question then becomes with the outfield what it is do they go after Bryce Harper who’s swing would play exceptionally well in Yankee Stadium, and who’s father grew up a Mickey Mantle fan. Would they go after Manny Machado, the second coming of Alex Rodriguez. Or an idea driven straight from the MLB The Show PlayStation game and sign them both ? We will have to wait and see but it’s a fun thing to think about now.