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Tuesday Discussion: Are They For Real?

April 18, 2023


This week we asked out writers to respond to the following:

The Yankees are on pace for 100 victories! Are they for real? Is this just a hot start before they come back to Earth, or is this the beginnings of something great?

Here are their replies:


Lincoln Mitchell - I don’t see this Yankees team as a 100 win team, but that does not mean they are not for real. Going into this season, the Yankees seemed like a team that had a good chance of making the playoffs and decent, but less than fifty percent chance of getting a first round bye. From what I have seen this season, that is still what they are.


Mike Whiteman - To discern if the Yankees are for real, I took a look at the team's top twelve players per WAR. The top players are generally who we thought they would be. Aside from Gerrit Cole's unworldly pitching and maybe Franchy Cordero's hot start, there's really not anyone playing way over their heads. So, the players who we thought would lead the team are doing just that. So I say they are for "real."

Alas, it's once again evident that like 2022, health will be the X-factor with this team. This year's free agent prize Carlos Rodon has yet to throw a 2023 pitch. Neither has Luis Severino. Harrison Bader is just now rounding into full health. Giancarlo Stanton has made his annual trip to the IL. We're already holding our breath about DJ LeMahieu. There's real talent on this team. The question in the end is will they have to rely too much on guys like Franchy Cordero, or Willie Calhoun, or Josh Donaldson? Will they need to lean on Anthony Volpe more than desired in his rookie season? Will the team designed by the Yankee brain trust be on the field in October?


James Vlietstra - The Yankees over/ under on the season was 94.5 according to Vegas Insider. I took the Over. So I am not surprised by their current pace of play. In my opinion this team compares favorably to the 2022 version that won 99. Combined with playing less games against the competitive American League East and they are destined for an easy playoff berth. A special season will be accomplished once they are victorious in the ALCS and return to the World Series for just the second time in 20 years.


Ed Botti - As we were reminded by 2022 after their torrid first half, it’s a long season.

Are they for real? As of today April 18 at the 1/10th point of the season they stand at 10-6, which extrapolates to 101 victories. Which is an excellent start.

They have done so without 3/5ths of their rotation healthy, their starting centerfielder injured, as well as other material injuries to their third baseman, DH, and bullpen. Based on the construction of the roster along with some of the injuries, I do not see this as a 100+ win team.

I see them winning 92 or so games, which means it is a hot start and that will see them come back to earth.


Paul Semendinger - I want to believe in this team. It seems many do. I'm not ready to buy in yet. I'm not ready to give my heart to the 2023 Yankees only to have them break it. They have looked very good so far. Or, Gerrit Cole has looked very good. Take away his four brilliant wins and the Yankees are 6-6. Sure a number of injured players will come back, soon, they say. (Of course, we now learned that Stanton is out for at least a month - funny how that goes - it's most often worse then they initially say...) When the players return from injuries, it should make the Yankees better. It should. It might. I hope it does. Nonetheless, I see team as one that will fall back to earth a bit, meaning they'll be a slightly better than .500 team. Gerrit Cole isn't going 27-0 this year. I almost feel, though, that they need him to. Call me a doubter. I might doubt until the last out of the World Series (should the Yankees win it). As I say often, I hope I'm wrong and the Yankees just keep on winning and reach 100 (or more) wins and continue it through the post season.


Tamar Chalker - I think it’s absolutely possible. This team has a lot of potential and it is too early to believe they won’t live up to it.


Tim Kabel - I believe the Yankees will win at least 100 games. That was my prediction all along. After all, they won 99 games last year. It’s not unreasonable to believe that they are at least one game better than they were last year. My overriding concern is that Boone cannot guide them to a championship. He has demonstrated that he is capable of guiding them to a 100 win season. I firmly believe that will happen this year.


Cary Greene - I think MLB is trying to convince us that regular season games really matter a lot. The truth is, they just don't. Will the Yankees display high sense of urgency and try really hard to win five or 10 games more than they might have otherwise done? I don't think so. Not based on what I've seen out of Cashman's Yankees. It seems like being healthy is something that the team talks about a lot, but, when the playoffs start, the Yankees haven't been very healthy overall, at least in recent memory. Based on how easy the schedule is overall, I don't think much stands in the way of the Yankees winning at least 95 to 100 games and I don't think they'll really have to work all that hard to do it. I also think that will be good enough. I think that's exactly what the Yankees leadership feels is sufficient. The Yankees want to be good enough. Good enough to what? What exactly are the Yankees trying to do? Are they trying to win 100 games? I doubt it. Are they trying to qualify for the the playoffs? Yes. I think that's the goal. This theme has been written about often over the last several years here on SSTN.. It seems like that's mainly the only goal of Cashman's Yankees - to make the playoffs.. Winning 95 or 100 games these days really doesn't mean much. Not against the competition that the League offers.. All it means is you get that first round cushion. The all important playoffs bye. What I'm saying is that the Yankees could easily win 95 to 100 games. It's not because the Yankees are all that great. It's just that the league is that bad overall. More than half of the teams that the Yankees play are pretty much terrible. Suffice it to say I'm not that enthused about whatever the Yankees regular season record is. Like many old school Yankee fans, I judge success based on winning World Series, so I don't really care where the team winds up in the regular season. In 2023, I'm hoping that this year's Yankees team can take the hill and if they can't get it done yet again, then the championship drought moves into a phase that will forever record the "good enough" legacy that Hal Steinbrenner is presently painting. It sure would be nice if the Yankees focused on winning a World Series, rather than primarily focusing on being good enough to make the playoffs. So forgive me if I'm not focused on how many games the Yankees win in the regular season. For me, whatever the answer is to that question, it's not good enough.

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