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  • Writer's picturePaul Semendinger

Perspectives: Lots of Thoughts

by Paul Semendinger

December 26, 2023

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We have had some great discussions here about the Yankees' failure to get Yoshinobu Yamamoto and where they need to go from here. I love talking baseball. I love the Yankees and keep hoping the Yankees are going to do what it takes to once again win the World Series.


I don't love watching the Yankees fail. And I think missing out on Yamamoto was a big failure. I know many disagree. But, when you're the Yankees and you target a player, and you don't get that player... it's a failure.


I think, in the end, this is a topic where neither side of the debate will agree. And, in the end, both sides make good and rational arguments.


I appreciate the respectful differing of opinions that we've seen in the comments. I think we all learn from hearing opposing points - when given respectfully.

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There was a time when all the international free agents seemed to want to be Yankees - some even demanded to be Yankees. Remember when Hideki Irabu said he'd only be a Yankee? Remember El Duque coming to the Yankees? It was when Jose Contraras signed with the Yankees that a Red Sox executive dubbed the Yankees the "Evil Empire."


Does every free agent turn out great? No. But it was fun when the Yankees were the preferred destination for most of the best players.


What international free agents are rushing to the Yankees to play for them today?

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I miss the days when the Yankees were seen by all as baseball's best franchise. I miss when the Yankees (almost) always got the players they wanted. I miss the times when the Yankees won World Series, or at least, built with a strong enough team, not just to sneak into the playoffs, but to be a team that many (or most) thought could go all the way.

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If this Yamamoto deal was the only time the Yankees fell short on a free agent or possible trade partner because they "just didn't have enough" or "they were asking for too much," I might agree with the fans who are giving them a pass. Many say, "They did offer $300 million and they offered Yamamoto more annually..."


I get it, but for Yamamoto to take the Yankees' offer, he would have taken 25 million fewer dollars.


Who is turning down $25 million?


Bottom line, the Yankees, however they want to spin it, offered twenty-five million dollars less. That didn't get it done - and it wasn't going to get it done.


Remember the days when the Yankees always made the best offer?

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I want the Yankees to play BIG. These are THE YANKEES. We're not Royals fans or Pirates fans. We're Yankees fans.


The Yankees used to represent excellence and winning. They don't any longer and they aren't going to be that ever again if they only make "competitive offers."


The Yankees since 2010 have been a "let's be just good enough" team. When you aim small, you become small.


It's no surprise they haven't won a World Series since they adopted that strategy.


And, unfortunately, even if $300 million sounds like a great offer for Yamamoto, the fact is, it wasn't good enough.


"We were close" doesn't cut it. Not for the Yankees.

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The Yankees haven't won (or even been in) a World Series since 2009. I'm tired of "try." I want results.


I am also tired of waiting for the next great core of prospects to pan out. By the time the next group is ready, it's likely that Aaron Judge (and others) will be past their prime.


The time for the Yankees to win is now.

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The "we tried" excuse just isn't becoming for a franchise that likes to think of itself as the top franchise in the sport. The Yankees act like they are the best team in the sport, but they aren't. At all.


Players used to flock to the Yankees because they won, a lot, they had a great history, and the team was iconic. The Yankees represented excellence. They represented greatness.


The Yankees are no longer viewed that way. And, until they start winning championships again, they won't be. Today, they're just another team.


And the longer the Yankees go without winning, the less impressive and iconic they become. ***

The sad thing, the sad reality of all of this, is this is all self-inflicted. We can debate the reasons why, but for most of the last decade and a half, a baseball generation, the Yankees refused to do what was necessary to build a championship core.


And this is the result. They haven't won. Worse, they haven't even been fun to watch.


In the process, the Yankees have also lost a generation of fans. And, the players of today, in the MLB and around the world, the ones that the Yankees need to win again don't seem to have this great desire to be Yankees. The Yankees are yesterday's news.

***

Now, the Yankees did bid $300 million for Yamamoto.


That must mean they have $300 million to spend. Let's see how they spend it...


If they don't improve the team, substantially, we'll all see that, once again, they weren't all that serious.

***

Last year after the Yankees signed Carlos Rodon, they said, "We're not done." Except they were.


A few years ago Brian Cashman promised a "fully operational death star." It didn't happen.


Let's see the Yankees step up now...

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I would think, at some point, that Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner would tire of having to say, "We fell short again."


Aren't they tired of losing?


Brian Cashman was once seen as one of the best General Managers in the game. I don't think anyone sees him as that any longer.

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The rest of the off-season will determine if the Yankees are serious about getting better. The bad decisions of the last many years have put the Yankees in the position where winning now (2024) is essential and, at the same time, in order to do that the Yankees will have to spend a ton of money and/or trade a ton of prospects to get the team where it needs to be.


There are stiil good paths to be a great team in 2024.


I said, often, that in many cases Player A + Player B will be greater than getting Yamamoto.


The Yankees, I believe, need an everyday quality centerfielder. If they expect Aaron Judge to be out there, they're asking for trouble. Might that player be Cody Bellinger? Might that be Luis Robert, Jr.? Who knows. But, getting someone for centerfield would make this team better. That would be a good start.


There are quality pitchers that are supposedly available by trade. Corbin Burnes would be a great pitcher to trade for. Dylan Cease too.


Since the Yankees weren't able to dig deep enough for the cost in dollars for Yamamoto, they're going to have to pay those costs in other ways. It's going to cost one way or the other.


This is where they are. We'll see if the Yankees are willing to go big enough to win.

***

As the Yankees' pivot, I am not in favor of the "Build a Monster Bullpen" strategy. That's a plan the Yankees have tried time and again. It hasn't worked.

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If the Yankees aren't good in 2024, I can see Juan Soto's tenure being one year - sort of like the one year Reggie Jackson played for the Orioles.


Remember, in 1976, the year Reggie played for Baltimore, they were a lot like the Yankees of today - they had been great, then they had been very good, but they weren't the class of the league or the division any longer.

***

Blake Snell is an option to enhance the starting rotation, but in his career, he's either been very good or not so good. In his two very good years, he's won the Cy Young Award. The rest of his career isn't all that special. Look up any top pitcher on baseball-reference. There's usually a brunch of seasons when he is in the running for various awards and such. Not Snell. The only time he's ever been considered for the Cy Young Award is when he's won it. He's never gotten a vote otherwise. In other words, if he's not at the top of his game, he's not a top pitcher.


Here are Blake Snell's non-Cy Young Seasons since he won the award in 2018:


2019: 6-8, 4.29 107 innings pitched

2020: 4-2, 3.24 (Covid year)

2021: 7-6, 4.20 128.2 innings pitched

2022: 8-10, 3.38 128 innings pitched


The Yankees need at least one more starter. I think they need two. Snell is a good pitcher. He's not great. Still, he is probably better than many other alternatives on the free agent market. If the Yankees get him, he comes with a lot of questions. He doesn't solve the problem. He could be a start, but it would be a costly start.

***

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season. Thanks for being part of the SSTN community.


I look forward to the great discussions and debates to come.


Let's Go Yankees!

***

To all the writers, bloggers, reporters, podcasters, radio people, TV people, and all of the others in the big media, little media, and such... thank you for reading SSTN. You have to admit, we do a heck of a great job here - and have been for quite some time. Please, if you're going to use our ideas, the proper thing to do is give credit where it is deserved - to our writers and to this site. Thank you!

40 Comments


Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Dec 26, 2023

My gut feeling is that even if the Yankees exceeded the Dodgers offer and offered $350 million over the Dodgers $325 million, that Yamamoto would have still chosen the Dodgers. When I had no idea what the Yankees would offer him and no idea what the Dodgers would offer him, as soon as I found out that Yamamoto's meeting with the Dodgers was attended by Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Shohei Ohtani (ESPECIALLY Ohtani!), I knew then and there that the Dodgers were the favorites to land him regardless of what the media said at that point. At his meeting with the Yankees, the best he got was a VIDEO of Hideki Matsui (not even in person), and even …

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Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Dec 27, 2023
Replying to

I agree. I think the very least the Yankees could have done was fly in Hideki Matsui, Masahiro Tanaka, and Hiroki Kuroda and have them LIVE and in person at the meeting! If Ichiro Suzuki wasn't currently employed by the Mariners in their front office, I would have brought him in, too! It wouldn't be as powerful as having future TEAMMATES at the meeting like the Dodgers did, including a former teammate with Team Japan in national hero Shohei Ohtani. But at least it would have been a better effort.

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jjw49
Dec 26, 2023

In reality, whether Yamamoto agent used the Yankees for a better offer doesn't matter. You read for weeks, Yankees were the front-runners. Really? .... where did that bogus information come from? The Yankees I'm sure, but they were never in it, it was the Yankee illusion of "we are in it to win it." Total BS as we have discovered. The excuses are pedestrian .... we made our best offer, we didn't want to go beyond 5yrs. too much uncertainty for a pitcher who hasn't pitched in the majors, we didn't want to exceed total value of Cole's contract... As Yankee fans.... does any of this sound familiar? Hal and BC are joined at the hip..... both are content wit…

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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Dec 26, 2023
Replying to

No, I didn't imply that.


I didn't write clearly enough, so I edited what I had there.

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Brad Scheller
Brad Scheller
Dec 26, 2023

The Yankmes traded Florial to Cleveland. I'm done with caring about them. They truly suck!

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Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Dec 26, 2023
Replying to

They really needed Florial for depth, if nothing else, in the inevitable (unfortunately) event that one or more of the major league outfielders have to go on the Injured List. I could accept that trade if they at least received a pitching prospect who is as highly regarded as Florial HAD been years ago, and who, like Florial, was coming off a good year in AAA. Instead, they get Cody Morris, a 27 year old, who posted a 6.75 ERA in six relief appearances for Cleveland this past season. And over 13 career appearances (five starts) spanning two big league seasons (2022-23), Morris is 1-2 with a 3.41 ERA to go with 32 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings. The strike…

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sfs1944
Dec 26, 2023

The problem is Hal who is a business man not a baseball man He is concerned with the luxury tax and the bottom line unlike his father who loved the Yankees and wanted to win. Hal and Cashman have repeatedly not signed generational talent when available which would have brought the Yanks at least a WS appearance. Hal has spent money just on the wrong ballplayers . Hal still has a chance of changing the narrative by signing a CF and pitching this year and working on catching and the infield next year Hopefully he will get it done and convince Yankee fans that Hal and Cashman want to win a Championship They have the financial might to accomplish this.

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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Dec 26, 2023
Replying to

Absolutely.


100%.


The Yankees are the most valuable team in the sport. They have no excuses for not always being all-in.

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fuster
Dec 26, 2023

it can NOT, must not, be denied that Snell has failed, more seasons than not, to win Cy Young awards.


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Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Dec 26, 2023
Replying to

I like Snell. And I hope the Yankees get him. He is very unpredictable in regard to whether he will be a Cy Young Award winner or a "no vote getter". It is a pure gamble, just like Rodon was a gamble a year ago. What I like about him is his uncanny ability to strand opposing runners, leave runners on base, which can ultimately lead to Yankee opponents going into prolonged slumps as a result of all their "left on base" situations. His ability to strand runners offsets his very high walk rate. If the Yankees get him, they would be smart to NOT try to change Snell, to NOT try to prevent all the many walks h…

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