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Perspectives From the Empty Deadline…

Frustrated: As a fan, I am very frustrated by the austerity Yankees. I have written about this a lot over the years. The Yankees, throughout their history, by and large, win when they use their tremendous financial advantage to secure the best players to fill out their roster. For many years now, the Yankees of today have not done that. They see the luxury tax as a hard cap that they are loathe to exceed. It that means not securing the best talent, so be it.

The Yankees’ approach is to build the best team they can within that cap. That’s readily apparent. They have every right to do this. But, as a fan who was brought up, since the 1970’s, on the idea that the Yankees are the team that will always do whatever they need to do to win (trading for and buying the best players) watching them let player after player pass them by is more than frustrating.

If this approach resulted in numerous World Series visits, I’d be able to look at the approach with an appreciative eye and say, “Hey, what they are doing is working.” Unfortunately that isn’t the case. What they are doing has not resulted in any World Series visits. The current approach has delivered a team that is competitive, but one that year after year isn’t quite good enough.

I fear that’ll be the case with the 2019 Yankees. I do not think this team has the pitching to win a post season series against great hitting teams. Should the Yankees end up playing the Astros, I think the Yankees will have the inferior starting pitcher in every single game.

Brian Cashman talked about the costs for deals being too high for his tastes. Ok, I get it. I even appreciate that. But when Dallas Keuchel is $1 million too expensive, and Patrick Corbin wants too many years and, etc… those excuses gets old. If the Yankees are unwilling to spend money to acquire the necessary pitching help, then they have to trade prospects to get it. Sometimes you have to go big or go home.

The Yankees didn’t do that.


They went small as they have done so often in recent years.

And that is frustrating.

Rumors: One thing I gave up over the winter was reading and listening to all the so-called “experts” stating what the Yankees will do and who they will acquire. These predictions are always wrong. “The Yankees are the favorites to land _____.”

Even earlier in the day, the narrative was that the Yankees would get a pitcher. It was stated on one sports radio station as a no-brainer. “Of course, they’ll do something.”

The experts were wrong, as they have been so many times recently.

To be honest, I don’t think the industry experts on the radio, on MLB-TV, and in the papers are used to this new Yankees approach yet.

“The Yankees are always players,” they say – except it happens less and less.

Luis Severino: The Yankees are now banking on Luis Severino returning this year which is not a sure thing. Further, they are counting on him pitching like he did in the first half of 2018. Severino might return, but when he does, he instead might pitch like the Luis Severino of the second half of last year. If he does that, he does not help the Yankees’ pennant hopes or their rotation in a playoff series.

I think asking or expecting Luis Severino to be a difference maker in 2019 is asking a lot – probably too much.

Dellin Betances: See Luis Severino, except, since Betances only pitches for an inning at a time, he might be able to play a big role. Still, neither is close to returning. If Severino and Betances help, it’ll be in September. I don’t seem them making an impact in August. And I think, with the fact that they’ve both been injured all year, expecting anything out of them is more hopeful than realistic.

Got To Pay (Can’t Have It Both Ways): As I stated before, if the ultimate goal for the Yankees is to win championships, they will have to spend to get pitching. They don’t seem willing to do that. They won’t spend big over the winter, then during the season they won’t spend big in dealing prospects. The Yankees are unwilling to deal in cash, in prospects, or both. Other teams are. And those other teams will be stronger in October.

High Costs: It seems the Yankees are always talking about the high costs to get players. It’s almost as if they are insinuating that the rest of the league has different demands for them than when they deal with other clubs.

Could it really be true that every single team asked the Yankees for too much while countless other teams were able to make trade after trade?

Maybe what the Yankees perceive to be high costs aren’t all that high. Maybe the Yankees are over valuing their prospects. It might not be that the other teams are asking too much, it might be that the Yankees are misreading the market.

I cannot imagine another team’s front office saying, “We could get a better package from the Yankees, but we really want to hurt them so we’ll take a lesser package from another team.”

But that seems to be the Yankees’ narrative. Everyone they wanted was just too expensive. Everyone asked too much of the Yankees.

Astros: When Justin Verlander was available, the Yankees passed because he was too expensive. The Astros picked him up. When Gerrit Cole was available, the Yankees passed because the cost in prospects was too expensive. The Astros picked him up. Yesterday, the Astros picked up Zack Greinke.

Given the chance to acquire top-flight talent, The Astros jump right in. That’s the old Yankees way – when you have the chance to acquire top talent, you get it. When you have the chance to get a difference maker, you get him. I miss that approach. A lot. For me, one of the most fun aspects of being a Yankees fan was in watching them acquire great player after great player. It created interest. It was fun.

Flags fly forever. The Astros are willing to go big to get the flag.

The sad reality is that the Yankees are not.

It Is Time For Clint: I can understand why the Yankees did not bring Clint Frazier to the Bronx in the days before the trade deadline in case he was traded. Now that he’s still with the organization, and with Luke Voit injured, the Yankees need Frazier’s bat. If he is not recalled as soon as possible, something is terribly wrong. The DH spot can be made open. Edwin Encarnación can now play first base. The Yankees’ offense is struggling right now. Frazier can hit, no one doubts that. His time is NOW. I would hope that he is in the lineup tomorrow against Boston.

New Yankee Way: This austerity approach is the new Yankee Way. It’s actually not all that new, I just think as deadlines pass and off-seasons pass with the Yankees doing things differently, everyone thinks that this time will be different. They think, “This time the Yankees will go back to being The Yankees.” It’s quite clear that those days are over.

But, with that, so are the championships. The Yankees have won one World Series since 2001. They have not been to the World Series since 2009. I wish they’d stop trying to sell the fans on the fact that for them it’s all about winning championships. It’s not.

This isn’t to say that the Yankees want to lose. No, they want to win, but they only want to win if the winning fits their methodology. They refuse to budge or change the approach. Costs are what matters the most to the Yankees. Gone are the days when the bottom line didn’t matter. Sometimes, in order to grab the brass ring, a team needs to change its approach. The Yankees seem unwilling to do that.

Until this new approach wins, part of me will be frustrated because, while the Yankees are competitive, they haven’t been champions in quite some time.

I truly believe that if given the choice between staying under a certain spending limit or winning the World Series, the Yankees of today would value staying under the spending limit more. That’s just the way it is.

But since that’s so, I wish they would stop selling the fans on all the great players they have acquired and all the championships and greatness. Those teams operated under a different model.

I don’t think this new philosophical approach would have allowed them to make the big trade for David Cone in 1995. That was a different time. It was a different organization. The cost in prospects for Cone was tremendous. The fact that the prospects didn’t work out is a different story, but one the Yankees might do well to remember. Prospects are just prospects. The Yankees have a young core. Now is the time to take the chance by using the prospects to secure the proven talent.

The Yankees have to also see a very real fact – while their current team has tremendous talent, for whatever reason, demonstrated over the last few years, it’s a fragile bunch. Most every Yankees star has faced a long term injury – or multiple long term injuries. There is no guarantee that when the prospects are ready that the core will still be at their peak.

The window of opportunity closes fast. It was open this year. The Yankees closed it on themselves rather than having it close on them.

Again, this new approach might yield numerous championships. The Yankees have the experts and the analysts and more data than I’ll ever have. They do know what they are doing, but until their approach works…until they fly a championship flag, I’ll be skeptical.

And somewhat frustrated.

The Time Was Now: This team was primed for a boost. A commentator the other day (I forget who, but he was a former player) discussed how when teams play big, when they get the star player at the trade deadline, the team gets energized.

Not getting a player can do the opposite. It can’t help the team’s morale. The players see how much the pitchers are struggling right now. They know that help was needed. Brian Cashman had been saying it himself time and again himself. “The Yankees need pitching.” There has to be a sense of letdown in the locker room. There has to be.

This team will make the playoffs. But, I don’t believe they have the pitching quality to get through the playoffs. This was not the year to horde prospects for a future run. This is the future. The time was now. And they let it pass them by.

I believe they’ll pay for this mistake in October when they lose a big playoff series and another city gets to celebrate a championship.

Costs: We hear, a lot, about the costs of players and how those high costs make the Yankees uncomfortable, but how often (if ever) do we ever hear anyone with the Yankees organization saying they are uncomfortable with not winning championships?

That’s a different cost. A very different cost. It’s a cost that can also be generational and cost way more than the financial costs of the here and now.

I became a Yankees fan as a kid because they won. 1977 and 1978 were fun times for a kid to root for the Yankees. I know a number of Mets fans who became fans when they won the World Series in 1986. Likewise with the Yankees of the late 1990’s. Winning creates excitement.

What have the Yankees done in the last 20 years to secure new fans for the next 50 years?

Championships pay off in so many ways. Flags fly forever. People don’t flock to the teams that just get the Wild Card or who get eliminated in the playoffs year after year. This is especially true of kids. Kids don’t want to root for teams that don’t win. Cities don’t give ticker tape parades for teams that get eliminated in the post season. They just don’t.

All of that generates revenue. All of that generates interest. All of the generates excitement. All of that creates and builds and sustains a fan base.

This is especially true for the fans of the Yankees who are told and sold and raised on this idea that the Yankees are the premier team, the best team, the team with all the championships, and such.

Right now the Yankees are none of those things. They’re just a good team. A very good team in 2019, but not great. The odds are that they won’t end 2019 as the greatest team.

I hope they do. But, to me, it seems unlikely.

Cashman’s Perspectives: Our Tweet of the Day (at 3:00 p.m.) will be Brian Cashman sharing his perspectives on all of this. It’s worth a listen. I believe that Cashman is an outstanding GM. I also believe that he’s only allowed to operate within certain parameters. Getting the best players, regardless of cost, isn’t within those parameters. (I wish it was.)


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