Yankees: Are They Unintentionally Running A Scam?

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports /

Yankees left fielder, Brett Gardner, make no mistake, is on the backside of a career that is declining at an alarming rate. The good news? There are two blue-chip contenders to replace him. But, so what?

The Yankees have enjoyed a pretty good run with Brett Gardner as their left fielder. As a prototypical major league lead-off hitter, he has done a credible, though never, a spectacular job for the team.  He will turn 34 in August and by most standards, his best years are behind him.

Over the winter, he was the subject of almost daily rumors proclaiming that he was on the verge of being traded. Yanks Go Yard participated in the debate, and most often our writers came up in support of letting him go.

The Yankees Take The Plunge

The talk eventually withered in January when Yankees General Manager stepped into not only quell the rumors but to squash them. On January 17, he told NJ.com.”

"Cashman said he believes the teams who were interested in trading for left fielder Brett Gardner, due $25 million over the next two years, won’t up their offers. He doesn’t think he’ll trade the 33-year-old.“I think the teams that had the interest took their best shot,” Cashman said."

And that was the end of that. Then, with Spring Training approaching, Gardner himself took the reins with declarations about his intentions to assume a leadership role on the team in 2017. No doubt, this endeared him to his manager Joe Girardi, who, in the past at least, has been more comfortable surrounded by veterans on his Yankees teams.

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So, with both core elements of Yankees management in his corner, Gardner’s job was secure as Spring Training began and any talk of changes in that plan was non-existent.

So, with both key elements of Yankees management in his corner, Gardner’s job was secure as Spring Training began and any talk of changes in that plan was non-existent. Four weeks into camp, however, things don’t look quite as clear.

For one thing, Gardner has shot himself in the foot with a Spring Training that can only be described as forgettable. Except, it can’t be forgotten.

Consider this. Over eleven games, Gardner is batting .219 and has managed only seven hits with no home runs, no steals, and only two RBI. Hardly the stats any team would be looking for from a corner outfielder.

 Are The Yankees Running A Scam?

Watch Girardi twist and turn in the wind as he attempts to answer what appears to him, at least, to be a very perplexing question about his veterans on the team:

In recent days, though, Girardi, without naming names, talked about how some of the kids in camp are pushing up on the veterans whose anointed status is “in jeopardy” if not immediately then in the very near future.

Girardi might well have been talking about Gardner, and the kids might be named, Billy McKinney and Dustin Fowler. Both Mckinney and Fowler are non-roster players at the moment, and though each has excelled in Spring Training, their tickets are punched for either Trenton or Scranton-Wilkes Barre in a matter of days.

You can’t have Girardi proclaiming that jobs are “in jeopardy” when, in fact, they are not.

Either player would represent an upgrade defensively over Gardner, who himself is a pretty good defender. Fowler, in particular, has an excellent throwing arm and over four seasons as a center fielder in the minors has 16 assists and five double plays to his credit. Both players are interchangeable in left, center or right fields.

My point is this. Any attempt to apply Baby Bombers to the 2017 Yankees is a misnomer. Of the lot, only Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez will make the team this season. And beyond that, there are veterans who are blocking the kids everywhere you look in even the near future.

And Gardner is not the only one walking around with a $25 million price tag on his back. Jacoby Ellsbury is here until 2020, and Chase Headley has a job through 2018. Throw Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius, who are expensive enough to have to play, into the mix and you have a conundrum of talent in the combination of position players waiting, and waiting, and waiting.

Soon, The Yankees Best Team Will Be In Pennsylvania

This is a serious problem for the Yankees, and at some point, they are going to have to face it. Because you can’t have Girardi proclaiming that jobs are “in jeopardy” when, in fact, they are not.

Potentially, the team needs to find a way to clear the decks to make room for the likes of Gleyber Torres, Jorge Mateo, Clint Frazier, Aaron Judge, McKinney, and Fowler.  Otherwise, the Rail Raiders in Scranton-Wilkes Barre will have an All-Star team that is capable of beating some major league teams on a regular basis.

The Rail Raiders won the Triple-A National Championship once in 2016. Back to back titles, with the team they’ll have this season is likely. But what will the Yankees have proven if that comes to bear?

But The Propaganda Will Continue

The light that is shining brightly on the Yankees in Spring Training will extinguish on April 2 when the 2017 season begins. Because with the exception of Bird and Sanchez, they’ll all be gone and the headlines will follow them.

The Yankees will see to it that YES features stories and in some cases, in-game updates on the Baby Bombers in the minors to keep the fire burning for the fans.

Back in the Bronx, however, the only joy possible will be to wake up one morning to read that the Yankees have packaged Headley and Gardner in a deal with the Oakland A’s for two boxes of bubble gum and four cases of Gatorade.

Because that’s the only way, the Yankees have left to crawl out of the quagmire they’ve created for themselves.