Friday, April 25, 2014


With the huge turnover the Yankees experienced during the off season, the expectation was that the team would take a while to “gel” and might get off to a slow start.  The club actually did start slow, going 5 – 6 through its first eleven games.  In spite of that start, one got a sense that the “feel” of this team was very different than its 85-win predecessor.

While still “old” at some key positions (shortstop, first base, right field), the Bombers have injected “new” blood at others (third base, center field, pitching), and it’s those unfamiliar faces that are giving this year’s team a new life.

Gone are the likes of the expressionless Chris Stewart and Lyle Overbay who seemed to be there only to fulfill contract obligations.

Instead, “fresh air” is being injected to the club by Yangervis Solarte, Masahiro Tanaka, Dellin Betances, Michael Pineda, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann

While Carlos Beltran is on the backside of his tremendous career, he too has brought promise and hope to a team many dismissed before the season began.

A lasting image from 2013 for me was Lyle Overbay allowing two foul pops – on successive pitches – to drop safely behind him without giving much of an effort to make a catch.  He showed no emotion when the batter followed by lashing a single on the next pitch.  My opinion of course.

I don’t mean to pick on Overbay; he did have some moments for us, but to me a professional baseball player should show that they are out there for a love of the game.  After all, it IS a game and why bother playing it if you aren’t going to give your supreme effort every pitch, every play?

That’s why I feel so good about this “new” version of the Yankees.

Brian McCann will never be one to hide his emotions, and that’s what I love about him.  He shows me that he genuinely cares.

In addition to our new catcher, the 27-year-old Solarte is quickly winning me over.

Just the other night he was the start of a triple play against the Rays.  As he trotted off the field he had a grin from ear-to-ear, and the camera followed him into the dugout where he looked around for someone to either hug or chest-bump.  Later in the game, he would hit his first major league home run and was quoted afterwards as saying he hoped the dream never ended.

That’s EXACTLY the type of player our Yankees have missed for some time.

There is no doubt in my mind that Solarte’s combination of talent (on the field and at the plate) and passion is going to keep him in the Bronx for the foreseeable future.

We need him.

McCann and Solarte aren’t the only ones of course.  Tanaka and Pineda have shown dominance from the mound, and Betances is showing that he truly may be our closer of the future.

Ellsbury has been on fire at the plate, and coupled with Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki in the field, he is the centerpiece of one of the best outfields in baseball.

I still shake my head at the prognosticators who predict that this team is only capable at best of matching last season’s win total.  This version of the Yankees is so much better than that team could have ever hoped to be.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our manager Joe Girardi.  I’ll be the first to admit that until the middle of last season I was one of his biggest critics.  It drove me crazy when he’d make moves simply because “the book” called for them to be made.  I threw out the term “Binder Joe” like it was candy at a parade.

Only, Joe has changed.   Or, maybe I have.

Our manager has shown a tremendous ability to use whatever resources he has at his disposal to win.   Last year’s squad should NEVER have won 85 games, yet there we were still in the hunt for a wild card spot with two weeks to go.

In the final game of our recent series with the Red Sox, players seemed exceptionally brittle and by the fifth inning, Girardi had Beltran playing first base – a position he had NEVER played before.  There’s no book in the land that would have told him to make that move.

It worked.

Sure there are going to be moments where I’ll clench my fists in frustration, questioning what the hell our manager is doing, but I’ll never call him “Binder Joe” again.

We’ve had a slew of wins, even slaughtering the Sox 14-5 last night and I don’t know how long it will last.  One thing I do know is this: the Yankees of 2014 are a team headed in the right direction.  From top to bottom this club shows a heart and passion that the 2013 team seemed to have lost.

I really like our “new life”.


--Steve Skinner, BYB Writer
Twitter: @oswegos1

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