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Reasons to be excited, cautious about the Yankees in 2017

New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka throws in

New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka throws in the bullpen during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

REASONS TO BE EXCITED

Tanaka at the top

All spring results must be taken with a grain of salt, of course. Still, it was difficult to ignore MasahiroTanaka’s 19 strikeouts in his first 13 1⁄3 innings that had him looking similar to the pitcher who started his career 11-1 with a 1.99 ERA in 14 starts.

Middle men

Greg Bird quickly put any concerns regarding his shoulder to rest, drawing comparisons with Wade Boggs, John Olerud and Adam Lind from opposing team scouts. Gary Sanchez doesn’t seem to be resting on his laurels after his explosive two-month 2016 debut.

The ‘next wave’

The impressive performances by highly rated prospects James Kaprielian, Tyler Wade, Billy McKinney and especially Gleyber Torres don’t guarantee a thing, but they had Joe Girardi giddy (for him, anyway) at times while discussing the deepest farm system the franchise has had in years.

REASONS TO BE CAUTIOUS

Luis Severino’s inconsistency

He pitched well at times in spring training but struggled overall with fastball command, leading to continued speculation about his future being as a power reliever.

Carter’s unclear role

Scouts questioned whether Chris Carter, the NL’s co-leader in homers with 41 last year, could adjust to being a part-time player. Returns from camp only reinforced that skepticism.

Judged harshly Once one of Brian Cashman’s “untouchable” prospects, Aaron Judge, while far from bad, saw his stock drop both inside the organization and outside it with opposing team talent evaluators.

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