"The 2016 regular season has finally come to end, and unfortunately, the Yankees and their fans will be watching the Postseason from their couches."
The Yankees finished this latest campaign 84-78, nine games back of first place in the uber-competitive AL East. While the club amassed a 48-33 record at home, their lowly 36-45 showing on the road had a lot to do with still finishing five games out of a Wild Card berth.
On the flip side, when Brian Cashman decided that this would be the season to begin the organizational rebuild, no one would have expected the Yankees to finish anywhere near .500, let alone fighting for a playoff spot late into August.
In retrospect, had the Yankees kept an elite closer like Andrew Miller, and not been forced to slide Dellin Betances into the all-important ninth inning role where he blew five saves, finishing with a 3-6 record and a 3.06 ERA, then perhaps the Yankees would have secured the right to participate in today’s one game play-in.
Since August 1–when this deadline day deal went down, I’ve been on the side of the fence that says trading Miller was a mistake. While most agree with my assumption that the Yankees would have been better off over the next two-plus seasons keeping Miller, I’ve heard only one argument that goes against the grain.
A Twitter follower tells me that Cashman didn’t have a crystal ball to foretell the future that the Yankees would go from 52-52, 8 GB of the division, and 5 GB of a Wild Card on Aug 1 to 1.5 GB as they were multiple times later in the same month.
Well, duh, bro. My reply was simple–trading a sure thing in Miller for prospects is just that–looking into a crystal ball and praying that one of the acquired prospects actually pans out. I mean, what’s the percentage just one an organization’s top 30 players in a life span not only making it to the big leagues but becoming an All-Star? 10 percent? Maybe 15?
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In Miller, the Yankees dealt away a 31-year-old southpaw controlled for two more seasons at a very reasonable $9MM per. As a side note, Sergio Romo of the Giants and Koji Uehara of the Red Sox both earn the same amount–these two aren’t even in the same conversation when it comes to the 6’7″ Florida native’s effectiveness.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to have Clint Frazier in the organization–hell, the moment he became Yankees’ property, he immediately jumped to the top of their top prospects list. Even Justus Sheffield, Ben Heller, and J.P. Feyereisen come with a large amount of possibility, but that’s all it is right now. Believe me, I’d love to be wrong on this one.
But if Miller stays put, he probably closes out the five saves Betances blows, because Betances temperament and “stuff” is much better suited for the 7th or 8th innings–not to mention some of the other blown saves by the Yankees’ makeshift bullpen–Tyler Clippard (1), Tommy Layne (1), Ben Heller (1), Anthony Swarzak (1), Kirby Yates (2), and Adam Warren (2).
By my account, that’s 13 more wins the Yankees should have had if their ‘pen were still mostly intact. The Aroldis Chapman trade notwithstanding because he was a pending free agent and had already turned down a contract extension. That transaction made total sense, especially considering the haul the Yankees received from the Cubs.
Yet the sting of betrayal is very real as even winning half of those 13 games would have likely been enough for the Yankees to still be alive.
Allowing for total discretion, Miller did blow two saves for the Yankees this season, but with the way he commands the strike zone, it would have inspired way more confidence in this fledgling team down the stretch–you know, the same stretch of games Joe Girardi continued to call upon Betances regardless of the fact that he surrendered 13 runs in his previous six innings as of last Friday.
So no, we could have never predicted the Baby Bombers would do what they did–giving this team a feasible chance of playing into early fall, but they did. And did we not deal away Miller–his 4-0 record, 1.55 ERA, 46 Ks in 29 IP, and most importantly–his nine saves, we’d have a real reason to watch Postseason baseball, rather than to simply root against the Red Sox.