Well, here are again (finally) it’s that familiar time of the year; early spring training. Forget about what Staten Island Chuck or Punxsutawney Phil have to say about meteorology, when I hear ball hit bat and leather, I know winter is on its last leg!
Soon enough, the smell of fresh cut grass, the feel of sand in your shoes, the cool water effect of washing your car and the sound of baseball will be here for us once again.
And with that, we all get the “hope springs eternal” poetry and optimism for a 6 week or so period. That lasts until reality sets in.
For fans of other teams, reality may set in sometime in May or June.
For many Yankee fans, reality sets in quicker. We all know the weaknesses and soft spots on this team, and now we get to see them unfold and read and hear about the good the bad and the ugly on a 24/7 news cycle.
It’s part of being a fan of this team in this town.
The disappointment of 2022 is in the rear view mirror for most. But remember, objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.
Yankee fans have long memories. We are not easily fooled.
Spring now becomes all about a bright future we desperately need, or even demand from our Baseball team.
As it is every single year, young prospects show up early in hope seeking approval and impressing those that will ultimately make that life changing decision to put them on a major league roster. I can only imagine what it must feel like to be on the footsteps of the Major Leagues. Some handle it well, and others seem to wilt in the southwest Florida heat, and secure a ticket to Somerset or Scranton or even parts unknown, never to be heard from again.
As a young player, it has to be a difficult battle to manage excitement and anxiety at the same time, while performing at the highest possible level, with the eyes of senior MLB executives and visiting hall of fame players watching closely.
Every swing, every step, every throw and every catch is reviewed and measured meticulously.
Comparisons start to fly. How many players each spring get labeled as “the next….? And how many of them actually believe or achieve it?
It is also a time of the year for the major media outlets covering the game to put forth all types of irrelevant stories and predictions, none of which have any real impact or connection to reality.
I consume as much news as anyone you will meet. From local papers to national outlets to local sports radio and TV programming, not much gets past me.
Some of it is just well packaged minutiae. Content deigned to fill air space and sell papers. Which is fine. I indulge whole heartedly, but I keep my eye on the ball, the real issues that seem to get glossed over by headline grabbing nonsense.
Just this morning, I saw the following ambiguous headlines.
Yankees star already back in the loud-hit business- Apparently Giancarlo Stanton hits the ball hard. No mention of his injury history and his lack of a position.
Yankee star out to prove power surge was no fluke- So are we to expect 25-30 HR’s from Harrison Bader because he had a nice 5 games against the Guardians in October? No, he is not a power hitter, and should never be viewed as one. His role should be to get on base, and catch everything hit near him, and to stay out of the way of Aaron Judge in right field.
Yankees have glimmer of hope after hurler’s shoulder surgery- Frankie Montas optimism? His injury is addition by subtraction. He was never a top tier starter, and he will never be one. It was one of the worse trades of 2022 no matter how Cashman wants to frame it. Most of the NY media ignores the fact that Billy Bean pulled another fast one on Brian Cashman.
Yankee starter strikes out three while working on new pitch- So Clarke Schmidt is now adding a new cutter to help against lefties. Great. Bottom line; it’s probably all to do about nothing. Striking out batters in a simulated game is hardly news worthy. I just don’t see the reason for the hype. He looks average to me. Remember, these are the same people that labeled Deivi Garcia the next Pedro Martinez.
Aaron Boone ready for Josh Donaldson’s Yankees bounce-back- Somehow I get the impression Aaron is toeing the company line laid down by his boss. The eyes don’t lie, we all saw him last season, and he is not even close to the 2019 version of himself. This trade is right up there with the Montas trade as a complete failure.
Giancarlo Stanton outfield plan key for Yankees: ‘Good for his health’- It does make sense, that is until you realize that the position they are considering is right field, and of course the Yankees already have a right fielder. Giancarlo is the poster child for round hole square peg. The man has no position, except DH, which isn’t really a position.
Who do you think should be the opening day shortstop? Catchy headline, if only only our opinions mattered. Bottom line is Hal Steinbrenner did not extend IKF for $6MM in 2023 to be a bench player. Short of a trade, he’ll be in the 6 position this season, unless Volpe literally knocks the door down, and they take the best 26 north.
I bring up the previously mentioned articles not to bash the NY media and the headline writers, but simply to shine a light on the fact that, for the most part, after 3 or 4 days of camp there is not a whole lot to discuss or write about that hasn’t been discussed or written about since the end of October.
How about telling us exactly what Brian Sabean will be doing? Will he have influence over the 2023 draft? Will he be involved in trade talks?
How about telling us why the Yankee stayed with hitting coach Dillon Lawson? Why can’t one of the hundreds of people covering spring training ask Hal, Brian or Aaron a couple of simple questions such as; what exactly did you see from your offensive approach last season that made you want to retain the hitting coach? What will he do this year that is different? The Yankees struck out over 50 times in the 4 game sweep at the hands of the Astros, what do they plan on doing different this year, and what drills in spring training will your hitters work on to correct this flaw?
There have been some positive developments recently, however. For one, the YES Network is apparently ditching its amateur hour and have moved on from Carlos Beltran and Cameron Maybin as baseball analysts during Yankee games. Nothing against either guy, but who would think it was a good idea to put two people with ZERO broadcasting experience into the booth for the largest market team? It was actually panful listening to them last season, I felt bad for them.
The Yankees seemingly made no real effort to improve the left side of the diamond. Three of the staring 8 position players, 4 if you include Gleyber Torres are huge question marks.
Here some questions I’d like asked.
Yankee fans pay the most money in the league (or just about) to come see your team play. Why did you feel leaving huge holes in left field, third base and shortstop entitle you to continue to charge such heavy prices, even though you refused to spend money to address these non productive positions?
Brandon Nimmo of the Mets signed an 8 year $162mm contract this offseason. Why did you not even attempt to match the Benintendi contract of 5 years at $75mm he got from the White Sox?, After all, they are very comparable players, and some (me included) see Benintendi as a superior player to Nimmo. Why go cheap when you really do not have an inhouse solution?
I don’t recall hearing their thought process on this matter.
It just seems to me that many, not all, but many NY Yankee beat writers lob softball after softball at the Yankee brain trust. Where are the tough questions? Are they restricting access based on how tough the questions are?
Here is an example. Early last season Brian Cashman held a press conference in which he blasted the Astros for the 2017 cheating scandal. He stated "The only thing that stopped (us) was something that was so illegal and horrific. So I get offended when I start hearing we haven't been to the World Series since '09. Because I'm like, 'Well, I think we actually did it the right way. Pulled it down, brought it back up. Drafted well, traded well, developed well, signed well. The only thing that derailed us was a cheating circumstance that threw us off."
OK. That’s fine. But wouldn’t the logical next question have been “Brian, if the Astro cheating is “the only” reason” why you lost in 2017, why then fire Joe Girardi"?
That question was not asked.
So, instead of telling us that the sky is blue in Tampa, how about holding these guys accountable.
It has been 14 years since they last won it all, yet the Yankee management act as if they just came off of a championship dynasty run. They are not the Warriors and they are not the Chiefs, there is not enough equity built up to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe in 2003, but not in 2023.
We want answers and yes, we can handle the truth.
I just wish they asked the right questions.