The Yankees are not the only team to discover that winning a World Series is about as easy as predicting what Donald Trump’s next Tweet might be. Still, the team in the Bronx is closer than you might think.
Fans of the Yankees might have looked as I did at the back page of the New York Post today which screamed a headline – “Same Old Yankees,” and wondered, “Hey, what’s the problem here?” Their fury I guess was precipitated by the Yankees signing of ready for the rocking chair Brett Gardner and CC Sabathia to one-year contracts for the 2019 season.
By the way, there’s still another old man the Yankees need to resign, and that’s David Robertson. A proven stopper coming out of the bullpen, Robertson has the pedigree and the makeup allowing Aaron Boone to use him anywhere during a game, including as a closer when needed.
But lurking behind the headline appears to be a feeling that the Yankees we see on the field come April will be pretty much the same Yankees we saw on the field a few weeks ago when they collapsed and gave way to the Astros and Red Sox in the American League.
Moreover, the Post and others might be chagrined that Brian Cashman will be keeping a close eye on the $206 million threshold before the luxury tax (raised by $7 million this year) kicks in. Hal Steinbrenner’s quip that two-hundred and six million dollars should be enough to win a World Series might rub some fans the wrong way, but the man has a point. And it should be taken seriously.
The Yankees under Brian Cashman’s baseball acumen and “guts” have always been filled with surprises. Therefore, there may still be another Giancarlo Stanton move in the Yankees before the winter trades, and signings are concluded.
But at the same time, with the exception of starting pitching, the Yankees have few, if any, holes to fill, and for the ones they do have, they have the talent within to fill them, and no need to make a splashy free agent signing or trade.
That’s not to say they won’t, but again, we’re talking about bare bones needs here. So, if you view the Gardner and Sabathia signing only as a smart and efficient insurance policy, you get nearer to where Steinbrenner and the Yankees are coming from this offseason.
Remember too, the Red Sox, with the exception of Dustin Pedroia (Boston’s version of Jacoby Ellsbury), came into the Playoffs full bore and injury free, while the Yankees were missing Didi Gregorius and (though playing) a hamstring weakened Aaron Hicks. No excuses, I’m just saying that in different circumstances the pieces were there to potentially prompt a different outcome.
Also recall the Yankees played two months of the regular season without their J.D. Martinez, wrist-injured Aaron Judge, and again you have the pieces in place to overcome the Red Sox, save for the fate of a single pitch hitting Judge.
So where is the need for the Yankees to go out and spend $300-400 million on a (potentially) disruptive Bryce Harper and Manny Machado? If either were a pitcher, I might say yes. But when you consider the Yankees already led the universe in home runs last season, is another 30-40 homers going to make that ($) much of a difference?
Instead, the Yankees know they need to bolster their rotation – and they will. Brian Cashman has said yes to J.A. Happ and Patrick Corbin if they can sign them. That should be enough. Put those two together with Luis Severino, a revitalized Masahiro Tanaka, and always reliable CC Sabathia, and you have the makings of a rotation that, while not “great,” should be enough to transfer enough games to the bullpen with a lead and the prospect of winning – consistently.
If anyone falters, Justus Sheffield will be getting tuned up at Triple-A Scranton, and Jordan Montgomery will (hopefully) be making steady progress marked for a return mid-season. And if everything falls apart, there’s always the July trading spree to overpay for a starter – did anyone say, Sonny Gray?
The anxiousness among some Yankees fans to reload (as in $) is understandable. The Yankees appearance in the playoffs went by in the blink of an eye, and to make matters worse, the beating the team took was at the hands of the Red Sox. Not to be lost though is that the previous season, basically the same team came to within one out of the World Series.
It’s a high stakes craps shoot, and only one team gets to have a parade down its city streets so one of its loyal fans can throw a beer can at the trophy being held up by a Boston player, smashing off a chunk of the top.
The Yankees have the makings of a championship team in 2019. The same was true last year, and it will also be true for the next 5-10 years.
Maybe next year, it’ll be one of the Yankees power hitters who dunks a ball into the opposite field driving in two runs, propelling his team to a victory in Game Two along with the momentum to take it all the way as J.D. Martinez did for the Red Sox. Or, maybe not.
It’s called baseball.