The Yankees, with a little more than two weeks remaining before all non-wavier deals are suspended, have time to enact a trade for the right target and with the right suitor. But here’s why staying the course makes more sense.
The Yankees have reached a crossroad in the 2017 season when it should be apparent to all but a few of their most loyal fans, that this team, without help from outside the organization, is pretty much what most said they would be over the winter, a .500 team in the middle of rebuilding.
No one likes to hear that “rebuilding” word because it smacks of losing before you can win. And the Yankees brand doesn’t match up with losing because they’re the Yankees. And they’ve always fielded a competitive team bound for the playoffs and beyond.
Except they are not and they have not been a playoff team for quite some time. Consider this. If the Yankees don’t make the playoff in 2017, it will be the fourth time in five years they’ve missed the party. And the one time they did get in, they lost the one-game shootout against the Astros in 2015.
We asked, and we received
And it wasn’t too long ago that some Yankees were whining about a bunch of overpaid and over-the-hill stars who were “holding the team back” from remaking the composition of the team. And how blessed it would be if we had a young, athletic, energetic, and hungry group of guys in the clubhouse.
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Brian Cashman did listen, and he did act last year with all that in mind when he delivered a boatload of prospects to our door. But what he couldn’t do is refine, polish, and teach them overnight.
Cashman cautioned, lectured, and at times even cajoled us to heed his wisdom and advice to keep calm and be patient. He took a gamble on Aaron Judge over Aaron Hicks, and he struck gold. But how quickly we forget Judge was a last minute decision to bring North with the team.
What exactly is a “prospect.”
If we assume that the Yankees saw some potential in every player throughout their organization, then that means they have 200 or more “prospects” in their system. Otherwise, why would they have signed them in the first place?
It’s probably more, but let’s call it 200 and look at some simple math. If there are 25 players on a major league roster and every Yankee currently on it disappeared, only one of eight players currently in the minors would be appointed to the team. Seven of eight would go on with their venture of “prospecting,” with nearly all never taking a swing in a major league ballpark.
The point I’m making is this. Finding prospects is easy. Developing them is the hard part. And not everyone makes it. The Yankees just released Mason Williams, who was a high draft pick of the team nearly ten years ago. And for whatever reasons, the “prospect” never made the grade.
Time is needed to evaluate, re-evaluate, taking a players skills apart and then reconstructing them into a major league ballplayer. Clint Frazier, for instance, the man Joe Girardi labeled as have the quickest bat he’s ever seen, was in the middle of that development process when Hicks went down and Cashman was forced to promote him.
Now, Frazier will play in front of 35,000 fans instead of 3,500, and hopefully, the learning process can continue, even though the big league life is not conducive to teaching and learning with games every day, incessant travel, and 95 mph sliders.
The Yankees, even before he was injured, insisted time and time again that Gleyber Torres isn’t ready to join the big club. Ditto Chance Adams. They get it; we don’t. Or, at least most of us don’t. We want it just like our news and double-cheese hamburgers now!
What is a Yankees fan?
The Yankees as an organization have some issues they need to address. But the same is true of us too as fans. At this crossroad, what kind of a Yankee fan are we? Are we going to continue to pummel the team with demands that they “do something,” modeling Theo Epstein and the Cubs who went all in on Jose Quintana?
Or, will we be the fan who lets the 25 players who take the field on any given night with a minor league first baseman, a journeyman reserve infielder (bless his heart), and a struggling bullpen that continues to give away games without reminding ourselves of what no one wants to say – that this is a transition year for the franchise.
And next season, if all goes well, Gleyber Torres will be the starting third baseman following a brief minor league stint. And Lucas Duda can be the Yankees first baseman, signed as a free agent over the winter. And James Kaprielian, with luck and determination, could be in the rotation by May of 2018. And on and on and on.
As a sportswriter, I love playing General Manager. But I gotta tell ya, Cashman has it nailed. Just let him do his job.