Yankees fans are waiting for the big punch when the Evil Empire surfaces again to spend the rest of the league into oblivion. No, there’s a better way…
The Yankees are scheduled to play 162 exhibition games in 2020 – otherwise known as the regular season. The team will muster up as much energy as needed to hold down the Tampa Bay Rays while sloshing their way to a Division title. Finally, in October, the authentic season and the only one that “counts” will begin.
There is pressure on Brian Cashman to engage the Yankees wholeheartedly in the sweepstakes to land the “big one” – no matter what it takes. Fans keep asking over and over again – what would George do?
And if Hal Steinbrenner and Cashman need any convincing, merely take a glance at what George did do in the winter of 2009 when the team signed CC Sabathia (19-8, MVP ALCS) and Mark Teixeria (39 HR, 122 RBI, 2nd MVP voting) as free agents who were vital components in erasing a decade of winless world titles.
That was then, this is now
Yesterday, we discussed the unique approach Brian Cashman takes with team building. He looks everywhere, internally, and externally for ways to improve the team. But always, he acts with fiscal restraint and cautiousness – even when the heat is on from the Yankees fan base.
Many times, his “signings” merely draw a ripple of interest in the media. He finds Tanner Swanson (who?) to join the Yankees as their catching coordinator to bring along the career of Gary Sanchez, with the confidence that kudos eventually will come his way, and sure enough, they have.
Small things filling the pieces of the puzzle.
So, where are we going with this?
The Yankees, without making a single move this winter, have all they need to capture the AL East Division title again this year.
All they must to do in the exhibition season is to win one more game than the Tampa Bay Rays. So, why is there a need to do anything now?
The Yankees will not win or lose the immediate goal of winning the AL East in April, May, or June.
Why not take that time (then) to evaluate several questions the team needs to have answers to in 2020? For instance, who emerges from the battle at third base – Miguel Andujar or Gio Urshela?
Both are in the sophomore seasons with the Yankees and coming off stellar years. But who can say (now) which one will help the team most in 2020? The same scenario exists at first base where Luke Voit and Mike Ford represent options as regulars in the lineup.
What is the value of Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada as “keepers” until each has a minimum of a hundred at-bats in the new season? And what about Estevan Florial, injured most of last year, but still a highly prized prospect of the Yankees?
On the pitching side, who knows (today) what the upside of Deivi Garcia is, a talent whose 2019 season Brian Cashman described as “amazing”?
And doesn’t it make sense for the Yankees to give Garcia ten to twelve starts in the early part of the season – to find out if he’s ready to follow Domingo German into the spotlight without missing a beat?
Ah – the naysayers…
Wait until July – are you nuts? By then, Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, and Zack Wheeler will have lockers in other clubhouses. Of course, they will.
But the Yankees will have the advantage of a half-season evaluating the talent they have, plus a few bucks if it means spending what it takes to acquire Player X or Player Y in July to fill what they know are holes.
Did anyone know that Charlie Morton would go 16-6 with a 3.05 ERA in the American League when the Rays acquired him? Can we still believe that Justin Verlander went 1-4 in the 2019 postseason for the Astros, including two losses in the World Series?
No one in this game of baseball can ever say for sure, especially in the postseason – can they?
Yankees: Let it play out – wait to strike later and hard
Brian Cashman can and should always answer his phone to listen to any GM or agent who calls. But he need not feel obliged to initiate conversations with player agents like Scott Boras (Cole, Strasburg, Anthony Rendon) – except to say in good faith -here’s our offer – take it or leave it if you want to wear the Pinstripes at Yankee Stadium.
There is plenty of time between now and July on the calendar, and the Yankees are better to take advantage of the perspective that will allow the team (then) to make the moves necessary (or not) leading to that all-elusive Number 28.
From the outside looking in, it’s not a stretch to think Brian Cashman is thinking the same way…