A Tale of Two Teams
by Ed Botti
October 21, 2022
Since we are in the middle of the ALCS, and the Yankees are down 2-0, of course we start to hear the annual complaints about Brian Cashman and the way he built his $260,000,000 2022 roster.
Photo by Kathy Willens/Associated Press
There are two schools of thought here when it comes to the GM.
On one side of the Yankee isle we have fans and media members telling us that he has not missed the playoffs since 2017. He builds a competitive team each year, and is not afraid to spend.
On the other side of the Yankee isle we have fans and media members that tell us things like, I don’t care if they made the playoffs, they haven’t won a World Series since 2009. He builds a one dimensional team each year. He relies too much on his analytics department. He doesn’t trust his prospects. He is an excuse machine.
Most of you that read my articles have a pretty good idea of my feelings about the GM’s job performance.
I think he has done some very good work. He has a knack for finding gems for his bullpen. I do not think his organization is very good at finding and developing starting pitching. I do not think he is very good at evaluation other teams starting pitchers to sign or trade for. I do not like his one dimensional approach to scoring. I believe he meddles too much with his field manager.
Overall he has made some very good moves, and he has made some really bad moves.
Over the last 10 season, he has spent approximately $2 Billion dollars in payroll. Yet his team has not been to a single World Series.
One of my biggest problems is it appears that he is never held accountable by his bosses. Each year after a failed postseason, we hear the same rhetoric from Hal Steinbrenner.
He is in his 24th season as a GM. That is a very long time.
However, as I watched the 2022 season unfold, watched the 2022 Astros beat the Yankees for best record in the American League and secure home field, then square off against the Yankees in the ALCS and gain a 2-0 lead, I realized something that we have not really heard much about, if at all.
The Astros actually gave the Yankees a head start and the Yankees failed to capitalize.
Here is what I mean by that.
Following the 2019 season, a season in which the Astros knocked off the Yankees in the ALCS, and then were caught cheating, the following transpired prior to the 2020 season.
They were fined $5 million, the maximum allowed under MLB's constitution.
GM Jeff Luhnow was suspended for one year. Luhnow was then fired by the Astros.
Manager A.J. Hinch was suspended for one year. Hinch was then fired by the Astros.
The Astros forfeited their first and second round draft picks for 2020 and 2021.
Following the 2019 season they lost Star pitcher Gerrit Cole to the Yankees.
Following the 2020 Season, they lost Star Centerfielder George Springer.
Following the 2021 season they lost star pitcher Zach Greinke
Following the 2021 season they lost star shortstop Carlos Correa
During the 2022 season they lost Star outfielder Michael Brantley
So, since 2019 they lost their Manager, General Manager, 1st and 2nd round draft picks for 2020 and 2021, $5 million in working capital, 2 very established starting pitches, their starting centerfielder, their starting shortstop and their starting right fielder/DH.
Essentially, one could say they had been gutted.
Yet, after all of that they went to a World Series.
After all of that they out did Cashman and the Yankees.
How could that be?
They regrouped, brought up players from their system and plugged them in to key positions, and hired an excellent manager, spear headed by an excellent GM.
How is it possible, that during the same period of time, and given a 3-year head start, the Yankees are still chasing the Astros?
What did the Yankees do to take advantage of this window of opportunity?
They extended their manager’s contract, gutted their coaching staff, added an ace that was an Astro (so a net-net win), played their second baseman at shortstop, didn’t resign their established shortstop, traded their third baseman, released their left fielder, traded a starting pitcher, found a new closer, added a Gold Glove first baseman, added two starting pitchers (one who made the All-Star game), added 2 starting left fielders because one was a complete failure, added a new centerfielder, found a new catcher, found a new shortstop who is not a shortstop, and added many other depth pieces?
How could one team have gone through so much negativity and turmoil and come back better than ever after 3 seasons, while the other team fully armed and financially stable, finds themselves in the exact same position --- trying to catch the exact same team?
The answer is that many of the decisions made have proven to be bad and costly decisions, and the style of play forced upon them has proven to be effective against middle of the road teams during the regular season, but not elite teams during the playoffs.
All of that, and they still find themselves chasing the Astros.
After looking at what the Astros deservedly went through over the last 3 years and how they came out of that, and compare that to what the Yankees have spent and done over the same period of time, I ask you, win or lose the 2022 ALCS, does the GM deserve a 25th season?
Today's Fact: Mariano Rivera got the final out in four different World Series - 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009. More than any other pitcher