When the New York Yankees and Houston Astros clashed in 2017, it seemed like both franchises had reloaded spectacularly and would define the next era of American League competition.
While that has rung true at the surface level, the Yankees haven’t managed to topple Houston once during the so-called Baby Bombers Era. The Astros have turned over large portions of their tank-inspired roster, effortlessly replacing key cogs like Carlos Correa and George Springer, losses that would’ve thrown the Yankees so far off course they’d be begging for relegation. In fact, they didn’t even really replace Springer, simply inserting a mysterious man named Chas McCormick while continuing to prosper.
Yes, the Yankees and Astros keep meeting. No, the Yankees haven’t been favored once since 2017 — and have regressed since their early peak, even watching the Boston Red Sox jump the line and surpass them for one gloomy year in 2018. The Astros have been “punished” by MLB, pressured into a front office shakeup, and have emerged unscathed on the other side. The Yankees have preached stability, and that stability has bred complacency.
It’s difficult to feel hope; any tipping of the scales, at this point, would probably involve some form of unforced error on the Astros’ end, the kind of self-sabotage they’ve largely avoided since growing into a behemoth.
Well … based on Jeff Passan’s latest report on the Astros’ internal machinations, the Yankees may be the beneficiaries of such willful sabotage, as long as they can capitalize. World Series-winning GM James Click was ousted last week in what was supposedly a concerted effort, led by egomaniacal owner Jim Crane, to shirk analytical advances and infuse some traditional baseball know-how into his operations department.
The Yankees don’t seem to be playing the same game as the Astros, and no matter what happens at the upper levels, Houston’s on-field personnel will remain in place. But maybe, just maybe, if the team opts to start dismantling their own machine, New York’s braintrust can make some headway.
Astros’ Jim Crane becoming MLB’s Jerry Jones would be Yankees’ only hope
Click’s phony one-year offer for Click was meant to be rejected, and his recently-imported top lieutenant Scott Powers, poached from the Dodgers less than one year ago, followed baseball’s most recent title-winning GM out the door.
According to Passan’s exposé, many within the organization wondered how they were so successful on the field in 2022, despite so much philosophical tug-of-war going on at the upper levels, with names like Reggie Jackson and Jeff Bagwell suddenly involved in the team’s day-to-day operations. That certainly won’t make the Yankees feel good; they lost to complete and utter dysfunction once, so why wouldn’t it happen again?
However, without Click in place, there’s certainly a chance things regress further. It’s still yet to be determined who Crane, henceforth known as MLB’s Jerry Jones, will select for the GM role moving forward.
Fingers are crossed, at the moment, that he chooses … himself, after signing reliever Rafael Montero to a three-year, $34.5 million deal based on one exceptional season.
Based on the way things have worked out for the Astros in the recent past, Crane’s folly will prove fruitful. He’ll fall ass backwards into three Cy Young seasons from Montero from the ages of 33-35, who will turn into peak Eric Gagne once emboldened by his new deal. This success will embolden Crane to continue to fly by the seat of his pants, doubling and tripling down on unmeasurable vibes like grit and moxie while winning numerous titles and baffling analytics departments the world over.
However, there’s a sliver of hope things will all fall apart that didn’t exist last Saturday, when the juggernaut Astros were celebrating their franchise’s second World Series win from atop a monument dedicated to sustainable dominance. After this season’s ALCS shellacking, that’s all the Yankees can ask for.