Monday, January 9, 2017


(Sept. 28, 2016 - Source: Mike Stobe/Getty Images North America)    
There's a Red Sox beat writer named Michael Silverman. He covers the team for the Boston Herald and has been doing it since Derek Jeter made his debut in pinstripes. Silverman penned an interesting column this past Sunday about the American League East, and makes a point I've struggled to drive home to my friends and fellow Yankee fans for years.

Red Sox GM: Dave Dombrowski
Look, even though the AL Beast nickname may no longer have the same cache outside the division it once did, it still holds true to the team's inside the division who are all as dangerous to each other as five warring tribes of cannibals. And regardless of the standings or fortunes of the franchises in a given year, the worst team in the Beast can (and often does) get red hot while others go ice cold for any number of reason. Then suddenly, the cellar dweller has cut down or erased a contender's lead in the blink of a home and away series and a new race is on!

Silverman's piece starts from the premise that the team he covers has question marks just like all the rest, and unless the answers are what team executives hope, it wouldn't take much of an anomaly for any of the other teams in the AL East to rise up and challenge them for the title.

He then makes an elegantly succinct 'case against' and 'case for' each team doing just that, stating the well-known question marks staring down each franchise Opening Day and then posing the not-so-hard-to-imagine scenarios that could overcome it.

This is his take on the Yankees. Check it out:

(Sept. 19, 2016 - Source: Brian Blanco/Getty Images North America)
"THE CASE AGAINST: The Yankees are dead-set on avoiding the luxury tax as much as possible the next two seasons, and they’re within reach. The flip side of that tack is that the team is — gulp — in a bit of a “bridge” mode at the moment. Its lineup is building toward the future, even though Gary Sanchez — 20 homers in 53 games last year — seems to have already arrived. Just spit-balling here, but he probably can’t keep up that pace. A sophomore slump is to be somewhat expected. Greg Bird and Aaron Judge are also key to the Yankees’ future but that future isn’t now, not with this rotation.

(Sept. 14, 2016 - Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)
The Yankees have their fingers crossed that they can get another year out of CC Sabathia. Masahiro Tanaka (who has a contractual out after this season) is the sole lock. Michael Pineda has not proven to be a consistent top-of-the-rotation arm. And while the bullpen is top heavy with Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances, the Yankees have too many question marks to make a serious run at the Red Sox this season.

(June 14, 2013 - Source: Marc Serota/Getty Images North America)    
THE CASE FOR: The Yankees are a better team without Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann than they are with Bird and Sanchez. With Matt Holliday’s bat in the mix, the Yankees may turn out to be a good enough offensive team to upend more than a few opposing pitching staffs and at the same time mask some of the flaws of the rotation. Should the young bats gel at the same time — a bit like some of the young talent did on the Red Sox last season — the Yankees could surprise everyone this season."

Silverman's take on the rest of the division's teams are equally balanced and make for an interesting read for sure. I encourage you to check it out, but perhaps the most important takeaway from it is what he has to say about an observation made by a rival GM about the Chris Sale deal.

(Sept. 26, 2016 - Source: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America)    
'Look, you can argue that he gave up too much for Sale or you can love the move but one thing you can’t deny is that he picked the right time to do it,'the GM said. 'Because the rest of the American League is down right now. And they’re trying to win now.'

The GM has a point — to a degree.

Yes, for 2017 at least, the other four teams in the division have either sustained personnel losses or refrained from making the one or two moves required to catch up and/or surpass the defending AL East champion Red Sox.

But the other four teams are not going to be pushovers. Each has its own case to make that if everything goes right on its end and if the Red Sox turn out not to be “The Best Team Ever,” the AL East crown is up for grabs.

Right now, on paper, it’s not."

 --Barry Millman
BYB Writer
Follow me on Twitter: @nyyankeefanfore

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