On Wednesday, Yankees pitchers and catchers will officially report to the team's Tampa complex to kick off the 2019 season. And manager Aaron Boone will also hold his first official press conference of the year.
The Yankees enter Spring Training with virtually the same clubhouse as last season, but with a few new faces like Adam Ottavino, Troy Tulowitzki, and James Paxton. GM Brian Cashman made the necessary moves to bolster a roster that hopes to win more than their 100-game mark last year, and hopefully knock down the Red Sox and capture a World Series title for the first time since 2009.
Those are some lofty expectations, but that was the same goal in mind for Boone and the rest of the team exactly one year ago. So, with that in mind, here are some questions Boone will likely face from the media when he steps in front of the mic...
1) Does Boone expect to see more pieces added to his roster this spring?
Like Cashman, Boone is never saying yes or no to these type of questions. But it will likely be one of the first he faces with free agents like Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, and Dallas Keuchel still without a team for the new season.
The Yankees are still considered in the hunt for Machado, with SNY's Andy Martino reporting Tuesday that some inside his camp are "encouraging him to consider taking a shorter-term deal." Plus, managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said he wouldn't rule out a Machado signing, either.
Cashman can never be counted out when these types of talent are still on the board, so Boone is certainly ready to adjust to whatever comes his way.
2) Do Yankees have what it takes to knock Red Sox off their throne?
As noted earlier, the Yankees' primary goal this offseason was to make their team better in order to take down the Red Sox in 2019. Normally, 100 games is a solid division winner, but the Red Sox were loaded as well and carried their stellar rotation and lethal offense through the postseason for yet another World Series title.
Like the fans, Boone must be sick of the trophy being hoisted up in Beantown. The Yankees have a solid rotation with Paxton in the mix now, and the lineup should be just as potent as last season. The big catalyst will be the bullpen, which will bring us to our next question...
3) Will there be a definitive closer in 2019?
There has been talk about the Yankees' bullpen being one of the best in the history of the game. With heavy hitters (or throwers in this case) like Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Dellin Betances, and Adam Ottavino on the back end, there are multiple options for Boone to use to close out a game.
If the answer is yes, look no further than Chapman, who has held that role for the past two seasons with the Bombers. But Boone doesn't necessarily have to do that with this firepower, so it will be interesting how he answers this one.
4) Who will get the ball on Opening Day?
Will it be Luis Severino again? How about the newly-acquired Paxton? Does Masahiro Tanaka have a shot?
There is no definitive ace in this rotation, but Boone must have an idea of who he wants to give the start to on Opening Day. Or maybe he doesn't and will see what the spring shows when it comes to these starters. If Severino can show the Yankees he's back to his normal self in Tampa, expect him to get the ball.
5) What are Boone's goals in Year 2?
Winning 100 games isn't too shabby for a first-year manager. But there were moments in Boone's rookie campaign as skipper that brought some criticism.
One that comes to mind is leaving Severino in despite his clear struggles in Game 3 of the ALDS. The Yankees had all the momentum heading to the Bronx tied one game apiece, and a healthy bullpen. Boone, though, trusted Severino to correct his early mistakes, and that didn't pan out in the slightest.
There are other aspects of Boone's managing that need fixing, but it will be interesting to see what he wants to improve on and change for the new year to reach those lofty goals.