rebuild on the fly" in 2016 - look to the future AND chase the post-season. That's from Exalted Owner, Hal "I'm Not Cheap" Steinbrenner, whose official blather - seemingly straight out of North Korea - goes this way:
The Exalted Leader won't allow the Yankees to take a year off from their victory quest, so He's ordered his managerial underlings to win AND rebuild. Yes, we're back to that grand old chestnut from 2008: We will do more... with less!
Hey, rebuild AND win? Count me in! I'm good with that... as long as it works.
If it doesn't, well, the Boy Billionaire will bank more money. So I guess, from His standpoint, it's a winning policy either way, eh?
So Brian Cashman must make the Yankees younger, build for the future AND contend. Let's keep in mind that "the post-season" now includes teams that barely poke noses above .500. Instead of Murderers Row, the Yankees only need a Shoplifters Row. They can win the Wild Card and hopefully get hot.
Other teams - the Giants, Redsocks, Royals, Astros and virtually every division winner - must rebuild. The Yankees cannot do that because - though the YES men stress that Yankee fans are the game's most knowledgeable - the fan base is fair-weather dullards who will run from a loser. We can't wait. Ever.
Okay, I get that. So the question is simple: Are we succeeding?
Clearly, a group of young prospects is bubbling to the surface, (Rob Refsnyder not withstanding.) Luis Severino and Greg Bird looked great last year, (even if Bird looks ticketed for a demoralizing return to Scranton.) But how do we compare with our rivals? For example, Boston. Well, even if you buy the line - as many Yank fans do - that Baseball America is fixated on overvaluing Redsock prospects, it's hard to put our young players above theirs. Boston already has an all-star SS, a rising CF, two solid catchers and maybe the best IF prospect in the game, a fellow named Yoan Moncada. Are our young guns superior to the Mets? Nope. How about KC? The Rays? The Astros? Ouch.
Yes, our prospects always look good, when we're studying our own navel. But how do we compare with other teams?
Strategic plans are great. The question is, is this one working?
Hey, if it does, great! We'll march down the Canyon of Heroes! I'll take back everything I said.
And if it doesn't, well, we'll move another year through the snake, while the Exalted One becomes richer than ever.
Am I just a spoiled fan? Maybe. But if you're lucky enough to live in a city with a daily paper - Syracuse no longer has one that home delivers - open the Obituaries on any given morning, and you will find some old lug nut died, leaving a loving family and maybe a house in a declining neighborhood. In this thumbnail sketch of a human being's life, you will read about the schools he attended and the jobs he worked. And you will often find that he or she was "a lifelong Yankee fan." Yes, someone can live 90 years, and that's how they are remembered.
That's how I will be remembered. And I'm good with that.
Listen: The owner of the Yankees has a sacred obligation to all those fans in the world who will be remembered in their obits not for the billions of dollars they made, or inherited, but for being "lifelong Yankee fans." They will never see the dance floor of a private yacht. Hal Steinbrenner is not the owner of the phone company. He owns the fucking New York Yankees. If he wants to "rebuild on the fly," if he wants us all to "do less with more..." great... but it better goddam work. Because if it doesn't, the thought of the Steinbrenner family squeezing money from their cultural touchstone - well - it's not one I wish to have this Christmas.