Blueprints for the Yankees To Follow
By Ricky Keeler
With the World Series ending over the weekend, now is the time to talk offseason. As General Manager Brian Cashman, the Steinbrenners, and manager Joe Girardi are discussing what to do in the offseason to improve the team, they are formulating a plan on how to make this team be in the best position to win a 28th World Championship.
When you look at the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals, the one thing they both had a lot of were contributing role players. These are guys that you have never heard of before during the regular season, but somehow come out of nowhere to be World Series heroes. For example, how many of you actually heard of Allen Craig and David Freese before this postseason began? Unless you followed baseball the whole season, you probably did not!
In 2009, the Yankees were able to not just win with their big bats, but win because of the role players they had. Jerry Hairston Jr. was a solid utility player and Eric Hinske is a guy who just is used to winning with a lot of teams. Plus, the starting lineup had Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, two guys who were great glue players and in the World Series, came up with the big plays when it mattered the most.
The Texas Ranger did not really have a big, high-paid name in their starting lineup and still found some glue players to contribute. Take a look at catcher Mike Napoli. GM Jon Daniels was able to work a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays for Napoli after he was shipped to Canada from the Angels. Now, Napoli was a big fan favorite in Texas, including the game winning two-run double in the 8th inning of Game 5. Although Nelson Cruz made some bad fielding mistakes in the postseason, no one can take away his record tying eight home runs in the playoffs.
Now, let’s take a look at the St. Louis Cardinals. That team had a ton of grit. That statement is an understatement when you consider the 10.5 game deficit that Tony La Russa’s overcame in the last six weeks of the season. They did not make big moves at the deadline, but pulled off small trades for quality relievers in Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski and starter Edwin Jackson. However, don’t underestimate the small move they made with the Los Angeles Dodgers for shortstop Rafael Furcal. Furcal improved their defense and provided a veteran leader at shortstop like David Eckstein used to be.
The Yankees did not have to make a big move at the trade deadline, but the lack of a small move to bolster the team’s strengths may have cost them the title this year. Cashman has shown more of a need to go after the role players with adding Russell Martin, Bartolo Colon, and Freddy Garcia last offseason. Will he overpay for C.J Wilson or will he use money to add important “glue” players? Only time will tell!