Sunday, February 21, 2016

2016 the New 1996 for the New York Yankees?

As we inch closer towards the 2016 season and Opening Day optimism is running high on most every Major League team right now. That’s the greatest part of it being a whole new season, nobody knows what to expect and not many teams and their fan bases are down right now. This is especially true for the New York Yankees specifically because with all the new faces in the Bronx, whether acquired elsewhere or coming up through the farm system, and the question marks surrounding the starting rotation no one really knows what to expect. We have mentioned this a few times last season and already once or twice this season but the comparisons and parallels are just too much to ignore. If the Yankees stay healthy and if the Yankees can gel together like they presumably did in 2015 could this team defy the odds and shock the world in 2016 much like they did in 1996? 

Both teams were not expected to make the postseason in both 2015 and 1995 and both teams won the Wild Card before losing in the Wild Card Round. Things were a little different back then obviously as the Yankees lost technically in the ALDS to the Seattle Mariners in an epic five-game series while the Yankees lost a one-game playoff to the Houston Astros last season but the basic premises are the same. That’s just the beginning though, keep reading. 

In the early to mid-90’s the Toronto Blue Jays were at the top of the division and the top of the American League as their fans watched Joe Carter walk off a World Series like most of us have only dreamed about as a child and once again the Yankees seem to be looking up at the Blue Jays once again. In fact the last time the Blue Jays made the postseason before last season was during this dominant time with Carter in the middle of that lineup. To counteract the Blue Jays then the team acquired a National League player who had struggled and fallen out of favor with the team that drafted him, that NL player’s name was Paul O’Neill. This may be a stretch and I am in no way comparing the two but does this not sound a lot like the Starlin Castro acquisition for 2016? 

The 1995 Yankees had a staple of a first baseman entering presumably his last season with the club in Don Mattingly and had a struggling veteran with a ton of question marks in Mike Stanley also looking to hang on while this season boasts possibly the final years for Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran. The Core Four was just beginning to make some noise with short cameos from Andy Pettite (Luis Severino in 2016) and eventually Derek Jeter (Jorge Mateo, Didi Gregorius… take your pick), Jorge Posada (hello Gary Sanchez), Mariano Rivera (Dellin Betances and/or Jacob Lindgren) while Bernie Williams (Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams, Ben Gamel) was just beginning to establish himself. 

The team was young at the core and filled in where it needed to offensively while shutting down teams with a strong bullpen late. Sounds pretty familiar doesn’t it? I just hope the statistics and the end results are the same.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)