Saturday, September 10, 2016

Why were the pre-selloff Yankees so mediocre? The problem, dear Brutus, was not in our stars, but in ourselves.

Last night, this thought-brick hit me: To win the 2016 World Series, we could have to beat Carlos Beltran, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. We'll face one of history's best post-season hitters, the game's best reliever, and baseball's hardest thrower. Moreover, in each case, it'll be personal, at least from their viewpoint.

Then this brick of awareness landed: What if the Yankees had kept all three, but also brought up the - (I hate this phrase) - "Baby Bombers:" Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin? One would replace A-Rod, who wasn't hitting. One would replace Aaron Hicks, who was starting to hit. One would have replaced Austin Romine, who long ago became a CIA/Yankee torture experiment.

In other words, what if we had this same basic team... plus - (I hate this phrase) - "No-Runs DMC?"

Think about it. Of all the players we received in the selloff, only Ben Heller - a RH pitcher - has played for us, and he's a blip in the Matrix. Everyone else is deep in the minors, their best ETAs set for mid-2017. With a little tweaking, we could have had the same infusion of youth, PLUS Beltran and the lockdown bullpen. Right? Right? RIGHT?

Well... no. Don't we all recognize that that team would still suck? Without the selloff, the prospects wouldn't have gotten the necessary at-bats, the veterans would still be playing everyday, the team would still be languishing around .500, and the YES booth would be filled with a craven bunch of Matt Lauers.

The problem, dear Brutuses, was not in our roster. It was in our culture. It was in the chemistry of the franchise, and - brick coming - we need to figure out how such a foul brew evolved, because it could ferment again. Somehow, the Yankees had become the team that could never overcome a 2-run lead. Somehow, we became the team always destined to lose big games, not win them. Without the asteroid-strike totality of the selloff, we were going nowhere, and I think that's where we would still be.

I believe the selloff brought about a top-down willingness to finally state the obvious: This team was wretched. The road to recovery always begins with the alcoholic coming to grips with his situation. (See Sabathia, CC.) That's what the Yankees did.

Final brick: Why, why, WHY did it take so long? This wasn't a one-season collapse. It took the better part of three years. How could this money machine, fueled by the most ardent fan base and largest market in sports, become so pressurized and incapable of winning that it basically - bad obscure movie reference warning - had to emulate Eminem in the final scene of 8 Mile and fling itself to the mercy of its enemies? Only then could we win the rapper duel!

I don't have the thought-brick answer, but here's what I'm wondering: What if the Yankees had kept Miller, Beltran and El Chapo - but pulled a Bob Lemon - that is, fired Joe Girardi and maybe even Brian Cashman? Would the turnaround have happened, and would we still have the lockdown bullpen?

Listen: I come here, dear Brutus, not to bury Joe and Cash but to praise them. Hindsight is not only 20-20, but Hugh Downs is still alive in it. I'm glad they did the selloff. Right now, we're enjoying the best of both worlds. Our team is rising, and we have a solid farm system. It can't get any better.

Only trouble: Next month, we might actually end up having to face one of those three. I'm not looking forward to trying to score a run off Andrew Miller.


John M said...

The eternal puzzle of Yankee brass. Is it Hal not knowing very much about baseball? Is it Cashman making bad moves? Is it the farm management screwing up? Is it Girardi?

OK, that last one is a trick question. Part of it is Girardi. It floors me to see ESPN writing about whether this is his best year EVER, even better than 2009 when he proved he could put a pencil to a lineup card. I think if we comb through each game this year, Joe's stellar choices probably cost us five games, and that's being charitable. If we had even two or three or four of those games in the win column instead of the loss column, who'd be chasing who down the stretch? (On the other hand, you could say that then Hal wouldn't have capitulated and let Cash clean house a bit and bring up the kids. If you believe the press, Cashman has long been in favor of bringing up and playing the kids, but Hal would have none of it. Maybe the truth will come out some day.)

Whatever, it's all moot now. If we win something...anything...all will be forgiven and forgotten, and we can only cringe over what might happen over the winter with free agents and trades. That's the big fear now.

Alphonso said...

I believe it has always been Cashman and Girardi. Cashman has managed to create, " the great coverup," and convince Hal that the problems lay elsewhere, beyond his control. But the truth has always been that, under Cashman:

1. The Yankees drafted badly
2. They traded badly
3. They failed to develop talent
4. They failed to recognize talent

Girardi had become baseball's version of Tom Coughlin. No young players!! Play the contracts. Play the money.

And the outcome became boring and predictable. Gary Sanchez would not be playing except that he pulled a, " Lou Gehrig." And sitting him down would get even Girardi fired. Or lynched.

Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...

I read this blog every day, and I still don't know if posting a link from another site is legit or verboten.

SO: Please delete this if you gotta. But --

Headline spotted today:

"This is what being a Yankees fan is supposed to feel like"

I endorse that sentence. I didn't think this would happen again in my lifetime.....

Anonymous said...


Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside said...

The mlb radio stream for John and Suzyn is down, so I'm listening to the Tampa Bay announcers. Thank Yahweh for John and Suzyn.