Winning the off season doesn’t mean you can start printing playoff tickets. Just ask the Toronto Blue Jays. But at the same time losing the off season doesn’t help. And right now the New York Yankees are losing the off season. Yea, that’s right. A team that has spent a quarter of a billion dollars in free agent contracts for two of the best position players on the market in Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann is in fact having a rough go of it. The reason why? A lack of foresight.
You see two years ago the Yankees had a fine all around catcher in their possession in Russell Martin not to mention several young catching prospects in the pipeline in the likes of Austin Romine, J.R. Murphy, and Gary Sanchez. The reason why they had so many legitimate catching prospects is because they have spent years emphasizing how important it was to draft and develop their own catchers since its so hard to find a good one on the open market. So what do they do? They let Martin walk away when re-signing him would have been very cost effective and then after his replacements stink up the joint they overpay to bring in McCann thereby blocking all of their prospects. What’s the point of emphasizing a position in the draft if you are just going to overpay for free agents at the major league level? And if you’re going to pay anyone why not keep Martin who is younger and more athletic than McCann and has the added benefit of already being familiar with your pitching staff?
As far as Ellsbury is concerned the Yankees are overpaying to get a guy who is injury prone, has been labeled as being soft, and who has had only one great year. He’s still a very good player but he’s not a franchise player despite the fact that he’s about to be paid as one. And the thing of it is that this signing, even if it turns out to be a good signing, shouldn’t have even been necessary at all. Ellsbury is essentially being brought in to replace Curtis Granderson who just defected to the crosstown rival New York Mets. But if the Yankees had never traded for Granderson in the first place they wouldn’t need Ellsbury since they’d still have Austin Jackson under team control to man center field. Just like with catcher the Yankees groomed a legitimate starting option and then decided that they could never trust a rookie while trying to contend so they jettisoned him away the way you or I would get rid of a q-tip. Once again that lack of foresight rears its ugly head. One bad move begetting another. And another. And another.
This whole time I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop. Waiting for that moment when it all caught up to the Evil Empire and their kingdom crumbled. Well, that moment has finally arrived. For the Yankees best player, second baseman Robinson Cano, has sent shock waves through the baseball world with his announcement that he’s taking his talents to the Pacific Northwest to don a Seattle Mariners uniform. Now thanks to the bumbling of their general manager, Brian Cashman, the Yankees have lost their best player.
Cashman likes to claim that nobody is irreplaceable in a team sport but that’s just spin. Yes, technically you can make up his production by combining statistics from other players but you can’t truly replace your best pure hitter and only real source of power at a premium position nonetheless. If Cashman really believed what he said then he never would have overpaid McCann and he certainly never would have overpaid Ellsbury when he already had a facsimile in Brett Gardner on his roster. No, some players are irreplaceable and Cano was one of them. Now on the eve of the Winter Meetings the Yankees find themselves in need of a replacement.
At the same time they also need to find a replacement for the soon to be suspended Alex Rodriguez while also finding someone to fill the shoes of the incomparable Mariano Rivera. And oh yea, it wouldn’t hurt to add another starting pitcher or two. All of which is to say that the Yankees still have a lot of work to do if they want to even reach .500 let alone win a World Series. Unfortunately for them they are never going to do that if they continue down this short-sighted path that they’ve been headed down. The only chance that they have for success, for true long lasting sustainable success is to fire Brian Cashman and bring in a true visionary with a long term plan. I happen to know just the guy.