Perspectives: Just Random Thoughts...
by Paul Semendinger
January 10, 2022
The NFL regular season has ended, the playoffs start next weekend followed by the Super Bowl and then... SPRING TRAINING!
As I pass the time waiting for pitchers and catchers, and the excitement of the new season, the following are some of my many thoughts about the Yankees and more.
As always, of course, I will be excited for the 2023 Yankees. Their starting pitching should be amazing. Their defense too. We've never really seen a team like this - a team built to win low-scoring close games. It could be fun.
As long as the Yankees win their games, to me, it's fun. My father loves baseball as a sport. He can watch his team (the Red Sox) lose an exciting ballgame and say, "That was a great baseball game." He truly appreciates the game itself. If the Yankees lose, it is difficult for me to say that. I often say, "No, it wasn't great, the Yankees lost."
I understand that the expanded playoffs make it difficult for teams to win World Series, but, on the other hand, I am getting tired of waiting for the next one for the Yankees.
When commentators state that "Yankees fans won't be patient with a re-build" I want to ask them if they remember 2013-2016. Those were four consecutive years with just one post season game. Yankees fans were patient.
And, aren't we patient right now, with one World Series victory since 2001?
At the Aaron Judge press conference, it seemed that the decision-makers of the Yankees stated that they have more work to do. I recall them addressing left field specifically. Yet, I saw the other day that there are reports that the Yankees are done making moves until Spring Training (at least) as thy are concerned about the luxury tax threshold that they don't wish to pass. To this I say, "Here we go again."
The Yankees spend big, but they don't spend wisely. And they let the luxury tax act as a cap. That's been the way they operate for a long time now. They only go to a point and then stop spending. The result has been teams that only get to a point before they stop winning.
Winning brings revenue. Always. And, not winning brings less revenue. Always. The Yankees haven't been in the World Series since 2009. Sure, they have saved money on player salaries, but they've lost in other areas.
I'd love for fans to share which Yankees teams have been their favorites over the years. I suspect they are teams that won (or played in) the World Series. I don't imagine there are many fans that say, "I fell in love with the 1990 Yankees."
Fan bases grow when teams win. That's just what happens. How many more fans might the Yankees have today if they had won a World Series or two over the last decade?
I was nine when I first saw the Yankees win a World Series in 1977. I became a fan for life. If we use nine-years-old as a baseline for when fans often first come to love a team, the youngest fans who have seen the Yankees win are now in their 20's. There is an entire generation of young fans who have never seen the Yankees in a World Series. That can't be a good thing.
When I first started to follow football, I became a Jets fan. It was the New York Sack Exchange that got me. I also loved to watch Freeman McNeil. He was awesome. Wesley Walker too! I guess, in my heart, I'm a Jets fans still, but I don't watch many of their games. I'm a die hard Yankees fan (of course) and I stick with them win or lose, but I'll only watch the Jets when they have a good team (which isn't often). I think, looking at the Jets, though, can teach the Yankees a valuable lesson about experts and prospects and always hoping for the next batch of players to be great. How many quarterbacks have the Jets had since Joe Namath? How many were supposedly going to be a quality quarterbacks? The quarterbacks the Jets have had possessed great talent, they were highly regarded by experts, and they had tons of ability. They all were successful in college (the NFL's "minor leagues" in a sense). Time after time the fans have been told, "This time we got it right with the quarterback, trust us." But none of the Jets' quarterbacks have been able to get them to a Super Bowl (since 1969). Not Richard Todd or Ken O'Brien or Chad Pennington or Mark Sanchez or Sam Darnold or Zack Wilson. Most of those quarterbacks had more losing seasons than winning seasons.
I know that the Yankees' top prospects are prized. As fans, we always hope and buy-in. We dream on the prospects. We worry that the Yankees might trade away Fred McGriff or Jay Buhner again. We say, "I'm so glad we didn't trade Derek Jeter away." And then we wonder if Anthony Volpe is the next Derek Jeter and if Jasson Dominguez is the next Mickey Mantle. We hope. The prospects are heralded. We're told how great they should be, could be...will be!
The Yankees seem all-in right now in regard to protecting their prized prospects. That's great. Maybe this batch of young players is as good as they say they are, but, when a team keeps looking to tomorrow, sometimes today passes them by.
The truth is most prospects just don't pan out. The Yankees have been talking about the future for a long time. We've heard about many would-be stars. We can all list them going back decades. Like the Jets quarterbacks, most haven't worked out. It's the vast majority.
I am thrilled that Brian Sabean and Omar Minaya are on Brian Cashman's staff. I hope they can help the Yankees navigate the difficult decisions they will have regarding the Yankees prospects. A strong case can be made to not trade the top prospects. But a strong case can be made to use them to bring in the best players now to get the Yankees (finally) to a World Series.
If the Yankees traded Jasson Dominguez (who then became a star) for Bryan Reynolds (as an example) but Reynolds helped the Yankees win a World Series, I would be okay with it. That's the price of success.
There was a time when Jose Rijo was a former Yankees prospect who was pitching great for the Cincinnati Reds and helped them win a World Series. I was never upset with the Yankees for trading Rijo as much as I wished he was a Yankee. Rijo was part of the trade for Rickey Henderson. I'd make that trade every day of the week, again and again. (I'm not saying Bryan Reynolds is Rickey Henderson. He isn't - no one is. But if the trade makes sense at the time, I won't criticize it later. I'm still all-in, for example, on the Sonny Gray trade. It made sense at the time.)
I never understood Doug Drabek for Rick Rhoden. Not at the time. Not now.
But, on the other hand, I remember reports that the Yankees walked away from a trade around 1994 or 1995 for Randy Johnson because the Yankees felt Sterling Hitchcock was untouchable.
EJ Fagan and I had a long discussion about prospects and such on the SSTN Podcast. The podcast will be posted on this page at 6:00 p.m. today.
I hope Scott Rolen gets in the Hall of Fame. I'm rooting hard for him. Once Rolen gets in, the third baseman with the highest lifetime WAR who isn't in the Hall of Fame will be Graig Nettles. (Adrian Beltre isn't eligible yet - and he'll get in anyway.) I hope Nettles' day will finally come. He deserves it.