The 2019 Yankees got as far as their starting pitching could take them. The 2020 Yankees are condemned to relive the same fate unless they change course…
The Yankees face a cold hard truth. The team has not won a World Series in a decade. Much like the Dodgers, they are an excellent team during the regular season marathon, only to fall short in the postseason sprint.
This is unacceptable not only to the Yankee’s fan base but to the team itself and the hierarchy in the front office.
There is no rationalizing of what happened to the Yankees in the ALCS. As Brett Gardner was quoted following Game Six, “Some of us will never get over this.”
You can count Brian Cashman as one who will never get over the so-called “heartbreaking” loss suffered at the hands of Jose Altuve. Heartbreaking is when an unexpected tragic event occurs.
In this case, though, Cashman and most of us know why this Yankees team lost to the Astros. Because it’s been the bane of the Yankees for far too long – starting pitching.
Yankees: Look Outside – And Then Look Within
Even in losing Game 5, Justin Verlander hurled seven strong innings without once glancing toward the bullpen looking for someone to save him – or in the vernacular of baseball today – relieve him.
Gerrit Cole, on a day when he lacked his best stuff and command, also throttled the Yankees into the seventh and never looked back. Bullpen? What bullpen? Oh sure, the Astros have one. But their team is not built around a bullpen as the Yankees are.
That will change because Brian Cashman knows it must improve. And so will the Yankee’s reliance on right-handed power in their lineup. There will be other impactful changes, and we’ll get to them in another story. But first, it has to be about starting pitching.
Yankees: Do it Big And Do It Quickly
For openers, Gerrit Cole in pinstripes is a must. The bidding war will be fast and furious with expectations of Cole reaching epic payment for his services at up to $300 million for X number of years. Too much? Does anyone, including Hal Steinbrenner, really care at this point?
Look, the Yankees have played the game of getting under the luxury tax threshold as quickly as a toddler makes the transition from training wheels to a real bike.
Steinbrenner and Cashman proved they could put a winning and entertaining team on the field without engaging in the free-agent market. – while leaving that old and worn Number 27 flag-waving valiantly at Yankees Stadium in the balance, and far removed from any vision of Number 28.
It doesn’t stop with Cole. Stephen Strasburg can and probably will opt out of his contract with the Nationals. A World Series appearance sends his stock out of sight, and the $200 million he’s leaving on the table is a mere pittance in the eyes of Scott Boras versus what his client is worth.
As good as they are, neither Masahiro Tanaka or James Paxton sends fear into hitters. And most certainly, neither qualifies as an “Ace.” Add to the mix Luis Severino, and you may or may not have a real ace – but no one can say either way for sure. You can be confident about Cole and Strasburg.
An offseason that doesn’t land either or both Cole and Strasburg to the Yankees starting staff is a failure.
Hal, You Did Good – But It’s Time To Listen To Dad
I hate to say it, but it’s a certainty. If it were George instead of Hal, Brian Cashman’s job would be on the line if he didn’t sign these guys.
Hal Steinbrenner tried it his way with an eye not on the bottom line because the Yankees will always reward their shareholders with profits no matter what – but on the frugal goal of staying within the confines of the luxury tax.
Mission accomplished. Now, how about we get back to the real business of the Evil Empire…