Despite what the calendar says, I'm pretty sure it's still winter here in the Northeast but the Major League Baseball season does officially begin Thursday. For the first time I can remember MLB opening with with a full slate of 15 games (In year's past it was a staggered opening with several games on Opening Day, and several teams opening the following day).

As a primer to the 2018 campaign, here are 5 Things Yankees Fans Should Know:

  1. This team is offensively STACKED. This offseason saw the addition of reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton, who also led the league in Home Runs, having smashed 59-dingers while driving in 132. The other corner outfield spot is occupied by All Rise! Aaron Judge - who clubbed 52 homers, had 114 RBI's and batted .284 in a not-too-shabby rookie season. I haven't even mentioned Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorious.
  2. From a pitching stand point, I think there are a lot of questions here. Can we expect more of the same or better from the 2017 Luis Severino (14-6, 2.98)? You better hope so. Masahiro Tanaka looked injured most of last season, posting a 14-13 record and ERA near 5 - what can be expected of him in 2018? C.C. Sabathia - Boy, did he shatter expectations and gut-out a number of crafty, veteran, clutch performances during last year's run to the ALDS. GM Brian Cashman decided to bring C.C. back, question is: He''ll be 38 in two weeks, what's left in the tank? Sonny Grey and Jordan Montgomery as the 4-5 starters is pretty decent for the back-end of the rotation.
  3. If you think that the lineup is STACKED, check out the bullpen. You can expect to see a lot of goose eggs in innings 7-8-9 from opposing lineups as new skipper Aaron Boone has Dellin Betances, David Robertson, Chasen Shreve and Tommy Kahnle all at his disposal. Oh, yea! And their closer is still the flame throwing Aroldis Chapman. Many teams struggle to find a reliable closer. This team has 3!
  4. Aaron Boone is a rookie coach with a ton of expectations on his shoulders. Cashman dumped Joe Girardi after he drove a 'rebuilding' team to Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. Can Boone best that in year one? How will he handle media if the Pinstripes start slow? New York sports radio can't wait for his first mistake.
  5. Some ammunition for your Yankee-hatin' friends and relatives: Acquiring reigning MVP Giancarlo Stanton and his mammoth $325 million contract is typical Yankees, right? They always get the top guys, it's not fair....etc. Well, the Yankee payroll is $167 million entering the season, and that includes Stanton's $25 million salary. The AP reported this week that the team's payroll is at its lowest amount since 2003 and they rank seventh overall spending this year.

The Yankees open the season with a four-game series in Toronto:

  • Thursday (3/29) - 3:37 p.m. - Luis Severino vs. J.A. Happ
  • Friday (3/30) - 7:07 p.m. - Masahiro Tanaka vs. Aaron Sanchez
  • Saturday (3/31) - 4:07 p.m. - C.C. Sabathia vs. Marco Estrada
  • Sunday (4/1) - 1:07 p.m. - Sony Grey vs. Marcus Stroman