There is a lot of doom and gloom surrounding the Yankees' future, and perhaps it's justified. But if Curtis Granderson or Mark Teixeira were healthy this whole season or if CC Sabathia or Phil Hughes had pitched better, perhaps the Yankees might have been a wild-card team.
With that said, let's go over five ways the Yankees could be back in the postseason come this time next year.
1. Sabathia will be better: Brian Cashman has already said that CC's elite velocity -- the 96 and 97 mph fastballs -- is probably gone for good. But does that mean Sabathia can't be a top starter? One scout feels Sabathia would be aided by having October off for the first time since 2006. Sabathia, 33, may not be dominant next year, but he should be better.
2. The return of Tex: Everyone can lament over Teixeira's diminished skills. He even told the Wall Street Journal last offseason he was not the same player. But over 162 games, he can make a difference. If the Yankees had had a few more of his home runs compared to Lyle Overbay's and Mark Reynolds' combined 20 -- not to mention Teixeira's defense -- they would have won a few more games.
3. D-Rob's new job: Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer ever. He is irreplaceable in terms of longevity and excellence. But could David Robertson be just as good -- maybe even better -- in 2014 than Rivera was in 2013? It is possible. I still want to see how Robertson reacts with no safety net, but the Yankees could be just as good in the regular season as they were last season -- a major plus.
4. No Hughes, no Joba: The biggest reason the Yankees and the Red Sox are on different roads at the moment is because Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz have lived up to expectations, while Hughes and Joba Chamberlain have not. They both had some nice moments in their Yankees careers, but none of them occurred in 2013. They are additions by subtraction.
5. Fitter, happier, more productive: With nearly 1,500 games lost to injury in 2013, the Yankees are bound to be healthier next season.
QUESTION: Do you have some optimism for 2014?