Yankees: The stategic distinction between worry and concern

Dellin Betances Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Dellin Betances Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Yankees avoided a sweep yesterday in Tampa, but there is still those who will say they are worried about the team that’s been on a skid of late. But instead, they should be concerned. There’s a subtle difference between the two. I’ll explain.

The Yankees have been trying to correct a skid that often happens during a 162-game baseball season. On Sunday, they squeaked out a win against Tampa Bay to avoid a sweep and, now, they fly home to do battle with the Royals and A’s before meeting the Orioles in a showdown series that begins next Monday in Baltimore.

This means that the team should roll into Camden Yards on a high since these are teams the Yankees quote unquote should beat. But no matter how this week evolves, the word worry should not be applied to this team. Concern yes, but worry no.

“Worry” shouldn’t concern us

We worry, for instance, that our kids will not drink and drive when we hand them the keys to the family vehicle. But we worry because these things are essentially out of our control once we hand them the keys. And this is no different than Joe Girardi handing the ball to any one of his starting pitchers.

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The worry stems from situations that are usually beyond our control. Brian Cashman, for instance, recently said that he is worried about James Kaprielian and his ability to bounce back next season after yet another season-ending injury to the same elbow.

But what he didn’t say is that he can’t tell you, for instance, where Kaprielian is right now and what he is doing with regards to his training and rehab once it starts. He can consult with the Yankees team doctors and he can text Kaprielian from time to time, but essentially, it’s on the doctors and Kaprielian until the day he steps on the mound again as a Yankee. Cashman, in essence,

He can consult with the Yankees team doctors and he can text Kaprielian from time to time, but essentially, it’s on the doctors and Kaprielian until the day he steps on the mound again as a Yankee. Cashman, in essence then, has no control over this situation.

A concern, on the other hand, has a different connotation. Concerns mean that you are aware of a situation and you have the ability to take steps to combat a negative result.

Tanaka: No worry. Concern? We’ll see.

In the same way, the Yankees shouldn’t be worried about Masahiro Tanaka, they should be concerned about him because they have the wherewithal to turn him around. And that’s exactly what they are doing. Together with Tanaka, they’ve come up with a plan to move him from the right side of the rubber to the left side. Okay, we’ll see if how that works out.

And if it doesn’t solve the problem, then he moves over into the category of worry, just like James Kaprielian,

And with respect to the rest of the starting rotation, they should be concerned, but not “worried” because they have choices. They have options and they are in control as to how they want to proceed from here.

CC Sabathia had a second consecutive start in which he kept the Yankees in a game they eventually won. That’s his job while earning $25 million this season and he did it albeit imperfectly throwing 95 pitches in just five innings, forcing the bullpen to pick him up. But it’s a win.

The end result, though, is that the Yankees are back in first place and the Orioles are not as they were beaten by the Blue Jays, who are still trying to make a season out of something that was lost in the early days of April, or more to the point when they couldn’t sign Edwin Encarnacion and they did sign Jose Bautista. But, that’s another story for another time.

Brian Cashman needs not to worry about James Kaprielian. He’s (unfortunately for the Yankees) history this season.

A concern, on the other hand, about Greg Bird and Tanaka is warranted. Who will Bird be when he returns to the lineup? There’s no worry there, as he either is or he won’t be the Bird that pounded the ball in Spring Training. Again, concern yes, but worry no as the Yankees will continue to pursue filling a hole down the road if Bird isn’t up to the task while realizing (please) that Chris Carter is not the answer.

The Yankees have plenty of time to sort these things out. We should give them the chance to do that. After all, Memorial Day, the traditional “let’s take the temperature” for all teams, is still a week away.

Yankees concerns, yes. Worries, not so much.

From where I sit, the Yankees are running at 98.6, which is normal. I’m not worried, but I am concerned, even as the team sits in first place in a Division, which could, over the long haul,  figure to be, as many have predicted,  the AL Least.

No matter. The Yankees, unlike the Orioles, have a multitude of options at their disposal to take care of their “concerns”. So, why worry?