Yankees and Royals: Two teams reaching the same juncture

(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images) /

Ironically, it’s the Yankees and Royals who would qualify for the American League Wild Card if the season ended today. They are also two teams that have reached a juncture in the season in which they are being forced to make decisions they’d rather kick down the road. But they can’t. They must decide who they are and who they want to be.

The Yankees, and more specifically, Brian Cashman, has signed off on the notion that the team will be “careful buyers” as the trade deadline approaches. Read “careful” as, we don’t really want to, but we have to, so, therefore, we will engage ourselves in the market.

And it’s possible that Cashman, as he looks back on the first half of the season, wishes to himself that the Yankees weren’t 21-9 at one point, pummeling teams every day, looking like they were unbeatable.

Remember, he had a plan at the beginning of the season that he made clear to all Yankees fans. Plan A was this is a transition year and what we’re going to do is take our stockpile of young, athletic, talent and let them play a full season in the minors.

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Then, in December, we’ll re-evaluate, sort things out, and decide who stays and who goes. And what we’ll have left is the team that’s going to take us to multiple Championships over the next two to five years.

Plan A would still be in effect if the Yankees didn’t have a fan base and they operating in a vacuum and not the City of New York. Because when New York smells a winning team, they’re not letting go and they demand the most from the organization in charge of the team.

So today, Cashman sits in his office having pulled out all the stops he didn’t want to, calling up Tyler Wade, Dustin Fowler, Clint Frazier, Ji-Min Choi, Mason Williams, Rob Refsnyder, almost everyone but Kitchen Sink, and still, the Yankees can only show an 8-17 record in their last twenty-five games.

Hence, his we’ll be careful buyers statement.

Royals know misery loves company

The Kansas City Royals have a similar problem that requires immediate solution. They have a team that, in all likelihood, will dissolve of itself to free agency after this season.

The question, though, for Cashman, as it is for the Royals, is what direction do they chart for the team over the next 75 games or so in the 2017 season.

It’s a solid team still containing the nucleus of the team that won a World Championship only two seasons ago. Here’s the catch for the Royals, though. First baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas, center fielder Lorenzo Cain, shortstop Alcides Escobar and left-handed pitcher Jason Vargas will all be free agents at the conclusion of this season.

Similar to the decision Cashman is making, The Royal’s GM, Dayton Moore, is at the crossroads in deciding do I go for it all this year, or should I trade these guys to get some value in return while I can, because the chance of signing any of them is almost nil, given the financial restraints of the franchise.

It would seem that Moore and the Royals, who have been one of the hottest teams in baseball of late, are putting all of their eggs in one basket, saying we are in it to win it, so let’s go get it.

That’s bold, to say the least. And for the fans in Kansas City for the remainder of the season, it will give every reason to pack the ballpark every night cheering them on.

The hammer will hit the nail, though

As in New York, not everyone agrees with the strategy being employed by their front office. In Kansas City, discussion is rampant as it is in the New York media and quite naturally, one segment or another will be disappointed when the discussion is finalized, and the teams move to action or inaction as the case may be.

Yankees fans are interested in knowing what “careful buying” means. Does it mean getting a reliever or two to shore up the bullpen with virtually no cost attached? Or, does it mean getting a quality front-line starting pitcher or a bona fide first baseman with a substantial cost attached to the move?

Brian Cashman deals the cards for the Yankees, and there are few who can quarrel with the job he has done. But no one should expect a repeat performance like we saw last year when he, literally, stole other teams blind. He’s gonna have to give something to get something.

The question, though, for Cashman, as it is for the Royals, is what direction do they chart for the team over the next 75 games or so in the 2017 season.