The Yankees might be on the verge of another long run of success. But those future waters get muddied if they trade Estevan Florial, who could be a cornerstone player.
Okay, Yankees, I’ve been reading that you’re thinking about trading Estevan Florial. That would be a mistake. I know it’s important to you that the team make the playoffs this year but I also know your stated goal to win multiple championships. I like that plan.
But it’s important to let a Yankees championship team grow naturally. Do you know when you will win your next World Series? When the time is right, and not before. And the time is clearly not right.
Yes, the team has gotten younger and better. But there are still too many questions for this team; it feels a year away. Look at first and third. A Yankees team that starts to play guys out of position to cover holes has executed the emergency preparedness plan, not the championship blueprint.
And the starting pitching is going to face more obstacles. Will Severino have to be shut down for a couple of weeks? He’s already pitching innings his arm has never felt before. Montgomery looks out of gas already.
The Yankees will need help from the minors, and you folks in the front office have shown no signs of trusting your best Triple-A pitchers.
Do you know what that tells you? It tells you these players are still developing. I’m thrilled that Judge and Sanchez and Frazier look so great. But now we have to wait for the pitching to catch up. And the Yankees best young pitchers, from Severino and Montgomery to Adams and Sheffield, need another year.
As Master Lao says, knowing yourself is true knowledge.
Reading the Tea Leaves
I want you to make the playoffs this year while laying the groundwork for the future. It’s just that the last part of that sentence is as important as the first.
No one pitcher the Yankees can add is going to make them the favorites to make the World Series. And you don’t mortgage your future or give up perhaps your best trade piece until it makes you the favorite. That’s not in the Tao Te Ching, but it should be.
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You got David Robertson through next year and Tommy Kahnle through 2020. That puts you in a good position for the next two years. But the Yankees need two front line pitchers to be World Series contenders. They would need to trade three or four top prospects to get that right now.
But Sonny Gray is a free agent after the 2019 season, while Yu Darvish is a free agent this year. They’d be gone while the real upper level of the Yankees farm system, guys such as Florial and Sheffield and Adams and Andujar, would be developing for other teams.
That doesn’t sound like preparing for a long run of success; it sounds more like mortgaging everything to prop up an unfinished team.
If you wait until the off-season, the Yankees can sign Darvish without giving up any prospects. And since they have to trade either Starlin Castro or Didi Gregorius once Gleyber Torres is ready, the Yankees could trade one of them for a young starter. Then they would have a super team as well as all of their prospects.
Swimming with the Tide
Remember that life is a river that flows. You must move through those waters at the right speed and always under control. But what is the right speed? How can you tell how fast or slow to move? Look, and you will see; ask, and you will learn.
When your best young pitchers are either not ready to be promoted or to pitch an entire year; when you are filling holes instead of improving strengths; and when you have several aging, under performing players who still need to be purged and replaced, the time is not right. Emily Dickinson wrote of the Many fictitious shores before the harbor lie. Be wary, Yankees, and be patient.
Relax. Close your eyes. Feel the river, hear the rushing water as it flows through you, and the organization. The sound is getting louder, and the water’s moving faster. But you can tell—you can just feel—that the time is not quite right. Wait until you have a clearer picture of this team and what the players can do.
Master Lao might have been thinking specifically of the 2017 New York Yankees when he asked, Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?
All right, Yankees, I’ve made my case. Don’t trade any of your blue chippers and especially not Estevan Florial. He doesn’t just have major league player written all over him; he has a star tattooed on his forehead. The championship years are coming, but they’re not here yet.
Those championships might start as soon as 2018, and the Yankees prospects will be counted on to keep the winning going in a few years. If there is a to be a long run of success, then the Yankees have to hold on to most of their best young players.
And if the sayings of a shut-in from New England and a 2,000-year-old dead Chinese guy seem esoteric, it could have been worse.
I could have quoted Casey Stengel.