Optimisms and concerns with the Yankees heading into 2014 MLB season

Brian McCann, right, talks with manager Joe Girardi,

Brian McCann, right, talks with manager Joe Girardi, left, during the second inning of an exhibition baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Monday, March 3, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. (Credit: AP / Charlie Neibergall)

WHY THERE SHOULD BE OPTIMISM

The big O: The Yankees ranked 10th in runs (650), 12th in OBP (.307) and last in total bases (2,048) last season, but those days should be over because of the additions of outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran and catcher Brian McCann.

Mas appeal: Opposing team scouts, who have nothing to gain by praising Masahiro Tanaka, have been almost as enthusiastic as the Yankees, with more than a couple saying they see the righty as having stuff characteristic of a No. 2 starter.

Quite a catch: McCann, 30, has hit at least 20 homers per season in each of the last six years, and there's no reason to believe those totals won't increase significantly now that he's playing his home games in the Bronx.

WHY THERE SHOULD BE CONCERN

Oh, that infield: It is impossible to go position-by-position around the Yankees' infield and not come up with a significant question mark. Shortstop alone poses several, starting with how effective and healthy the soon-to-be-40 Derek Jeter can be. Still, it's become an old saying around the Yankees: Bet against Jeter at your own peril.

CC'ing trouble: Everyone around the Yankees believes CC Sabathia will figure out how to pitch effectively with diminished velocity, and that's probably the safe bet. But discussing it in spring training and doing it are two different things, and Sabathia would be the first to say he hasn't done it yet.

Eighth wonder: Some with the Yankees will tell you they're not worried as much about David Robertson replacing Mariano Rivera as who will replace Robertson in the eighth inning. This is not heretical. Replacing Robertson, maybe the best setup man in the game the last three years, might prove more difficult in the short term.

BEAT MAN'S PREDICTION: 86-76

The offense can't help but be improved, and Masahiro Tanaka should bolster the rotation. But it's hard to see a club with this many infield questions making the playoffs.

Erik Boland has covered the Yankees for Newsday since 2009.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Baseball videos

advertisement | advertise on newsday