Yankees: On Solving The Mystery Of The Replacement Players

Mike Ford Walks Off The Yankees (Photo: Newsday)
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The Yankees season has been marked by the number of players who step right into their lineup from the minors, ready to play. Maybe it’s not a mystery after all…

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Need a suit? Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto will be happy to fix you up during the offseason (Photo: Getty Images)

The Yankees, over the years, have seen multiple generations of players wearing the Pinstripes. While the Yankee’s brand hasn’t changed much, the players have.

There was a time, for instance, during the 1950s and 60’s generation of teams when players routinely worked jobs during the offseason, like truck drivers, bartenders, and route beer drivers to supplement their income from baseball. Yankees like Yogi Berra, Hank Bauer, Clete Boyer, and Whitey Ford viewed the playoff and World Series shares as essential to supporting their families.

Remember too, that on January 16, 1961, Mickey Mantle became the highest-paid player in baseball by signing a $75,000 (equivalent to $630,000 in 2018) contract.

Beer no longer flows in the clubhouse. All-nighters in the streets of Manhattan are, for the most part, a thing of the past. Spring Training is not the time to get in shape. Instead, it is expected you report in shape.

A New Generation Of Yankees

Today, a new generation and breed of players are upon us. These players arrive in the big leagues making more than a half-million dollars per season (the major league minimum).

There are no motels, only top-flight hotels. No train rides. Today, there are chartered plane rides with the jet waiting on the tarmac for the team to arrive.

Fans across baseball are generally in awe of the Yankees ability to replace injured players with ones who seem to “come out of nowhere.” Players who contribute and are vital to the team almost from the moment they arrive.

Players like Mike Ford, Mike Tauchman, Gio Urshela, and Luke Voit, while tended to carefully by Brian Cashman, were doing the hard work necessary to reach the plateaus in their career they are enjoying now.

Is this an oddity that will always be identified with the 2019 Yankees? Or is it something else – something normally not considered when analyzing the phenomenon?

The word is out from the Yankees, and the message is clear. Be ready at all times.

I believe it’s the latter. For the most part, players of today are ready when they reach The Show because they have made themselves ready.

The jump from Triple-A to the big leagues isn’t as wide as it used to be. The coaching the players receive is better, the equipment is better, and the experience of Triple-A play itself is better.

Players like those mentioned above gain experience and knowledge from veterans like Clint Frazier, who has had more than a cup of coffee in the big leagues. Rehabbing players pass through the clubhouse in Scranton almost daily, All of whom are willing to share their experiences with the up-and-comers,

“Be Ready” Is The Yankees Mantra

But more than anything, it’s the players themselves who quickly learn they are a mere few hours from being called up to the big club. And they’d better be ready because the New York Yankees have no time to waste when it happens.

Gio Urshela spent the entire offseason refining and restructuring his approach to an oncoming pitch. It’s no accident; he is what he is today. Luke Voit spent the winter as a whole preparing himself for the so-called “Sophomore Jinx.” Would he hit (again) or wouldn’t he. Voit answered the question with his preparation.

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To put it another way, players today are not the “Boys Of Summer.” They are not the type to show up for a game half-loaded. Instead, they are mature, confident, and ready to attack men, who have worked arduously to get here.

And they mean to stay here, with promises of gold if they continue to work hard at their chosen field of endeavor.

Competition remains severe though. Who knows where Mike Ford, for instance, will be next year. But the resume he is building with the Yankees this season suggests he is capable of playing anywhere in the big leagues. Therefore, somewhere along the line, someone will notice, and he will become the subject of a phone call, Brian Cashman receives from a wanting team.

This is how Luke Voit became a Yankee when scouts began raving to Cashman about this hitting machine in St. Louis, bringing about Voit’s subsequent trade to the team.

There’s No Great Mystery…

There is not a great mystery as to why the Yankees have been fortunate to “find” replacement players for those on the Injured List. The word is out from the Yankees, and the message is clear. Be ready at all times.

Once sent, as the Yankees have done via their fearless promotions this year, it becomes enduring within the franchise, even down to the lower levels of the Yankees farm system.

We can only anticipate the arrival of the next Mike Ford

Footnote:

Ryan McBroom, a player the Yankees, who are stockpiled at first base, was recently traded to the Kansas City Royals for cash considerations. Known as a “raker”, in eleven games for the Royals, McBroom is batting .364 with a .417 on-base percentage. Just another Scranton Triple-A player who came to play in the big leagues.

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Yankees: On Solving The Mystery Of The Replacement Players
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Yankees: On Solving The Mystery Of The Replacement Players
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The Yankees season has been marked by the number of players who step right into their lineup from the minors, ready to play. Maybe it's not a mystery after all...
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Reflections On Baseball
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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.

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