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After ALDS Defeat, How Bright is the Yankees Future?



By Mike Silva ~ October 7th, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest, New York Yankees.

We are less than 24 hours from the Jose Valverde‘s fastball blowing away Alex Rodriguez to end the 2011 ALDS. A Yankees team that caught the hearts of its fans because of unlikely stories disappointed for the 10th time in the last 11 Octobers. You can’t blame Brian Cashman as it wouldn’t have made sense to give up their top prospects for Ubaldo Jimenez. Would Jimenez, or any other pitcher such as Wandy Rodriguez, Francisco Liriano, or Ted Lilly have made a difference? The Yankees weren’t able to drive in runs in Games 2 and 5 when opportunities presented itself. Their ace, CC Sabathia, pitched poorly in a game against Justin Verlander they needed him to be as perfect as possible. What Yankees fans are learning the last decade is the playoffs are a crapshoot. You win some, like 2009, and you lose some, like many other years. No team has repeated as champion since the Yankees in 2000. Boston, the best run franchise, has only two titles the last decade. It shows you how hard it is to win in the modern game. With an additional Wild Card on the horizon its going to get even harder. What happened from 1996-2000 is an anomaly in the modern sports world. Making the playoffs is about all a $200 million dollar payroll can guarantee.

The bigger concern is where do the Yankees go from here? CC Sabathia will assuredly opt out. Yes, he loves New York and wants to stay here, but he isn’t going to do it for a discount deal. He is going to want similar money to what Cliff Lee received from Philadelphia (5 years/$120 million dollars), maybe more. He is entering his late prime and that expanding waistline would make me queasy about his performance going forward. With the Yankees deep pockets it’s a no brainer, right? Well maybe before they saw what a long-term deal means when a player starts to disintegrate before their eyes. Alex Rodriguez may be 35, but his knee and hips are probably in its 40s. He probably is a player that should be signing 1 to 2 year deals, but he has another six years and $143 million left on the contract he signed after his 2007 opt out. Yes, petulant family members can hurt the family business (see Hank Steinbrenner). Brian Cashman wanted nothing to do with A-Rod after ’07, but the Randy Levine/Lonn Trost faction saw dollar signs with all the memorabilia they would sell from A-Rod’s milestones. Now that the economy has collapsed and the memorabilia market has become saturated and overpriced, the only dollar signs they will see are the ones they pay to a DH that probably can play no more than 120 games a year. Don’t forget you have to piece together another 3-years of Derek Jeter and his declining range at shortstop. The Yankees left side of the infield has become old and expensive right before our eyes.

Also, do you exercise the $10 million dollar option on Nick Swisher, who seems to be more concerned about selling CDs than playing baseball? I don’t. Don’t like A.J. Burnett? Well, you better get use to him because no GM is going to be fooled off one solid ALDS performance that needed a great catch to transpire.

I am not suggesting the Yankees are going to be bad. They have an in-prime group of elite hitters in Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, and Mark Teixeira. There are solid complementary pieces in Brett Gardner and Russell Martin. Jesus Montero, if he is the real deal, will be added to that group next season. Is that enough? Probably not, at least if the pitching doesn’t get better.

So you think the Yankees can just spend their way out of this pitching mess? They can give C.J. Wilson a long-term deal to join Sabathia as a number two starter. That, in my opinion, would be another move they would regret ala Burnett, Jaret Wright, and Carl Pavano. Ace money for a number 2 never seems to turn out well; especially in a town that can’t manage its expectations. I could see Wilson go the route of Barry Zito after a big contract and become a mess. Go compete for Yu Darvish? Maybe, but what will the Japanese righty be? Daisuke Matsuzaka was supposed to be the next coming with his “gyro-ball,” think the Red Sox wish they lost that bidding war now? The late Hideki Irabu was supposed to be the “Japanese Nolan Ryan.” How did that work out? Do I need to explain Kei Igawa? Japanese imports are anything but a sure thing.

Just beef up the offense, right? I guess you can make a run at Prince Fielder to be your DH. Let Sabathia and Swisher leave and give that money to Fielder. But who will pitch? There is a bevy of promising prospects such as Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos, Adam Warren, and 2011 surprise Ivan Nova. Do you think the Upper East Side management has the stomach to live through the growing pains of young pitchers? That plan makes 2014 look bright. All the Lonn Trost/Randy Levine crowd worries about is selling tickets today.

I haven’t even gotten to the manager, who is signed for another 2-years, but I would seriously consider firing him after his ALDS performance. Joe Girardi‘s teams continue to be unable to handle adversity. His one World Championship was more the result of a watered down American League, as they romped after a mid-season meeting in Atlanta. Girardi is an individual that is wound too tight. His team plays like it in a big spot. That was a tight offense last night. The way he handled the staff last night screamed of a man who is afraid to lose, not out there to win. Maybe Ivan Nova had forearm soreness, but if that was the case didn’t you know it before the game? Do we believe it “mysteriously” popped up in the second inning? Or did you want to justify your move and look for something wrong and take him out. What pitcher isn’t sore this time of the year? If Nova doesn’t require surgery his decision to pull him after 2-innings comes across clownish. The kid gave up two Yankee Stadium home runs; neither were exactly a bomb. He pitched out of trouble in the second inning. What more do you want? He was no worse through two innings than A.J. Burnett, just sans a diving catch by Granderson.

The Yankees are at a crossroads. They could react to this loss and do something stupid like give big money to C.J. Wilson or Yu Darvish and overpay for Sabathia. I believe they will sign CC, but they better keep it to five years and put a weight clause in that contract. If he is this heavy during an opt-out year, how will he look once he gets his money? Beached whale comes to mind. What comes next is what they should do, but won’t.

They should start to give the kids opportunities to pitch. If they struggle and miss the playoffs for a season, so what. If Jeter and A-Rod complain about playing for a rebuilding team, tell them they are free to retire. If the Yankees arms are as good as everyone thinks, they should be all set to compete in 2013. Next offseason Matt Cain and Cole Hamels, better investments than C.J. Wilson, headline the free agent pitching class. Both could anchor a young rotation with Sabathia. They could go after a young impact hitter in Matt Kemp, who might be available as well.

The Yankees future isn’t bleak, but there needs to be a thoughtful process, not an irrational spending spree to band-aid the issues. Brian Cashman is a reasonable GM, but will he be around to see this through? That is a huge question mark. Even if he is, will he be allowed to carry through a one step back to take two steps forward plan? After the Rafael Soriano scenario last winter it’s doubtful.

Keep allowing the Upper East Side crowd to run this team and they will run it right into the ground. It’s what those people have proven to do best. After all, it’s not about winning with them, it’s about the “brand.” The Yankees are no different than advertising a Mercedes or Lexus. That faction of the Yankee brain trust will ultimately prevail. They are the ones that control the money; not the baseball people. That is why I am bearish on the Yankees future, even though there shouldn’t be a reason to be.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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25 Responses to After ALDS Defeat, How Bright is the Yankees Future?

  1. xanegrey

    excellent article. never thought A Rod was worth the big money he got. in fact paying one or two players huge bucks is a good way to ruin the team.

    great players come thru with great games ( or at bats) A Rod ‘s bat never left his shoulder and watched the strikes whistle by him no doubt thinking of some piece o ass laid up waiting for his ..er.. ah ah rod.

    jeter is falling short.

    time for the yanks to reload it seems.

  2. Ralph C

    A Couple of thoughts:
    1) Don’t resign Sabathia if he opts out unless he asks for a reasonable deal. He was mediocre at best in the second half and with his body type and age, he won’t imo last close to seven years.
    2)A Rod is lucky he had that great 2009 postseason- and he did so you can’t take that away from him-because his contract would be up there with Rick DiPietro’s or Bobby Bonilla’s otherwise.
    3)This wasn’t on Girardi last night. I thought he handled the bullpen almost perfectly-it gave up one run after Nova left! I probably wouldn’t have brought in Sabathia nor walked Cabrera to get to Martinez but the offense was terrible. I’m sorry but Teixera, A-Rod, and Swisher not hitting yet again has nothing to do with Girardi. I guess you want the Yankees to hire managers who motivate their players like Francona-great job down the stretch-or Torre-whose last game here ended in a similar performance against Paul Byrd?
    4)Kudos to Posada-he was consistently good in the series and hustled until the end. I’m not sure how his final out was even that close.

  3. David

    I don’t understand his ripping of Montero’s hitting ability, but the guy that has been all over the largest problem that the Yankees have is Chuck Johnson, who writes here.

    The failure to develop young pitching has left them in a position where they almost must do things like give CC more than he is worth and/or overpay for a mediocrity like Wilson.

    That can change in a hurry if they are right about Nova, Banuelos, Betances and Warren, but they had better not be busts.

  4. Chuck

    Ralph..just because something worked out doesn’t make it right.

    Girardi panicked in crunch time and showed his failings as a manager.

    What would have happened if the Yanks tied the score and the game went extra innings?

    It was a horrible display of managing, and the biggest favor Girardi could do the Yankees would be go work for Theo in Chicago.

    I spent three years watching Buck Showalter everyday and couldn’t believe I could ever find a worse strategic manager, but Genius Joe takes the cake.

  5. Frank Russo

    Chuck,

    Here is the bigger question. Who would you prefer as manager. We are stuck with Girardi. Who in your mind would you like to see manager the bombers? Personally, there is no one off the top of my head that I can think of. Francona? Not happening. Anyone in particular that comes to mind?

  6. Stu B

    It’s not clear that a different manager would yield a different outcome. Girardi couldn’t have produced the clutch hit they needed.

  7. Chuck

    Frank,

    While I always thought Willie Randolph deserved a shot, I think there’s too much baggage left over from his Mets’ tenure despite all that baggage belonging to Omar.

    My first choice?

    Chris Chambliss.

  8. Mike Silva

    Curious what you like about Chambliss

  9. Chuck

    Just a guy who’s paid his dues..major league hitting coach/bench coach, minor league manager.

    Having a Yankee pedigree helps too, but I think he’s the laid back guy this collection needs.

    Re-cycling retreads doesn’t work for me.

  10. tnt1528

    they have a-rod for 6 more yrs, a.j for 2 more jeter for 2 more..theres 60 mil a yr you cant get rid of(for next 2 yrs anyway).if they looked bad now,what happens in the next 2 yrs,even if c.c. stays?

  11. Stu B

    But how do we know that a different manager yields a different outcome? That assumption originated with George Steinbrenner, and he went crazy with it, always changing managers when the Yankees didn’t win, before Joe Torre came along. It’s often a fallacious assumption.

  12. Mike Silva

    That I agree with (recycling of managers), but I think the more interesting question is if Cashman returns

    Can they move A-Rod?

    I think #1 for sure, but #2- forget about it

  13. Frank Russo

    Stu,

    “a fallacious assumption.” You just made my day with that line!

  14. Chuck

    There’s no way Girardi will be the Yankees manager if Cashman leaves.

  15. Stu B

    Not directly related here, but it seemed to me that the TBS voices, especially Anderson, were rooting for the Yankees to rally and convinced that they would do so. From Bob Raissman in today’s DN:

    “Like the big crowd at Yankee Stadium Thursday night, Smoltz, Darling and play-by-play man Brian Anderson kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    In the third inning, Anderson basically told viewers a two-run lead against the Yankees would not hold up. In the second, Smoltz said: “For the Yankees there’s no panic. They know how to play in the moment.”

    The beat went on in the eighth inning, with Anderson stating the obvious. “The Yankees have power up and down the lineup,” he said.

    In the ninth, Anderson continued to set the stage for a dramatic Yankee comeback. “The Yankees have serious home run power,” he said. “They are capable of tying the game up at any moment.”

    This was shortly before Robinson Cano flew out to center and Alex Rodriguez struck out swinging to end the game.”

    Thoughts?

  16. Ralph C

    Raissman has the nerve to frequently tell Yankee fans that national announcers are impartial and now implies the TBS announcers were rooting for the Yankees? Give me a break. This crew did a great job. As for Anderson’s ninth inning comment, the Yankees had Granderson, Cano, and A-Rod coming up in a one run game, against a closer who looked skiddish in his first two appearances. Is it really a stretch to think that one of the three could have hit a home run to tie it? You had three power hitters coming up in a bandbox, not Mario Mendoza, Rafael Belliard, and Homer Bush coming up at Dodger Stadium in the rain. Anyway, these announcers are in a no-win situation–each of the fanbases will think the announcers are against their team.

  17. Stu B

    To be fair, “rooting for the Yankees” were my words. I felt that before reading Raissman’s piece. His phrase was “waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

    Maybe my words were too strong, but they came across to me as expecting the Yankees to come back.

  18. Chuck Johnson

    Stu and Ralph,

    No disrespect, but when you watch a game, do you really care who the announcers are?

  19. Stu B

    I don’t care who they are, but I just noticed that tendency watching last night’s game. I don’t sense that with the same group as I watch Cards-Phils while writing this.

  20. Ralph C

    I don’t really care compared to other people (i.e. Phil Mushnick). I have my favorite and least favorite announcers but can tolerate most of them. The only one I really can’t stand is Tim McCarver but even with him i’m not muting the tv.

  21. kill.schill(ing)

    Why should we pay this Yankee-hating Mets fan’s so-called “objective” appraisals of the Yankees future any heed whatever?

    Silva couldn’t distill the animosity, resentment, and Schadenfreude he bears the Yankees from his observations and analysis even if he tried.

    It’s so deeply embedded in the subtext of every piece he writes on the subject he’s no longer even conscious of it.

    To modify an old Yitzhak Shamir adage, “Mets fans imbibe anti-Yankeeism with their mother’s milk.”

    Or rather, to modify Arthur Schlesinger, “Anti-Yankeeism is the yahoo’s anti-Semitism.”

    The only thing missing from your Danse Macabre, Silva, is the Doors music.

  22. Stu B

    @kill.schilling: Shoot the messenger all you want, but the Yankees still are a very flawed team. That’s not the fault of Mike or anyone else, no matter which team they root for. The fact remains that the era of Yankees dominance is long over. Deal with it.

  23. Mike Silva

    Kill Schill (ing)

    I don’t think I am talking crazy when I say I am very fair and balanced (to steal from Fox News) with the Yankees. Stu has taken me to task this year for being too kind to the Bombers. Some have accused me of being a closet Yankees fan. Is Mike Vaccaro anti-Yankees because of his NY Post piece earlier today? Mike grew up a Mets fan, but he has always taken the Mets to task. I take the Mets to task daily at this site.

    I realize you are still angry from my “this is the end” music intro in 2008 with Megdal when I poked a little fun at the Yanks missing the playoffs. Perhaps if the culture of the team and fan base wasn’t as Vacacaro described I wouldn’t feel inclined to “lighten you guys” up.

    http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/yankees/the_end_of_the_world_mAAKp4pcD91w0LeTQgZaVN

  24. Stu B

    Some fans of teams like the Yankees, like kill.schilling, and even the Phillies and Red Sox need to be reminded that their teams’ crap stinks just like that of any other. Watching their little “dynasties” get knocked out in the division series helps a lot.

    I don’t expect miracles, but maybe it could help them learn not to look down on fans of other teams too much.

  25. Stu B

    And it’s amazing how arrogant Randy Levine sounds in Vaccaro’s piece.

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