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Have the Yankees Become Complacent as an Organization?



By Mike Silva ~ December 29th, 2011. Filed under: New York Yankees.

The quotes to Bob Klapisch at Fox Sports from a senior Yankees official  caused very little stir. Perhaps because it’s a holiday week and the usual pundits are on vacation. Perhaps because Klapisch wrote it on Fox Sports instead of the Post or Daily News. Perhaps the opening week of the NBA and the Giants and Jets fighting for their playoff lives puts baseball in the rare position of the New York sports backburner. Whatever the case, it was interesting to hear fiscal responsibility from a franchise known for their insatiable appetite for spending.

The Yankees have produced a winning record 30 times in the last 35 years. Four of those losing seasons happened while George Steinbrenner was suspended by the league. They have made the playoffs 20 times, won 11 pennants, and 7 World Series’. That success has taken a strong brand and turned it into a powerhouse.

“The days of waking up on Christmas morning and finding an expensive new toy under the tree are over,” said one senior official to Klapisch. “We’re trying to be smarter about how we spend. And it wasn’t just us, look at the Phillies. You’re looking at probably the best team in baseball since 2010, and they couldn’t even win their own league.”

That sounds like a team that is rationalizing their decision to hold the payroll line. Granted, I have supported the Yankees attempt to reduce payroll and give their young players an opportunity to contribute on a larger scale. With that said, reasonable investments like Hiroki Kuroda and Carlos Beltran could give this team a leg up on their American League counterparts. It’s one thing to pass on long-term deals to C.J. Wilson and Yu Darvish; it’s another to ignore reasonable 1 or 2 year investments.

The competition hasn’t stood pat. Los Angeles is much improved, Texas continues to splurge, and the Red Sox have a new sheriff in town. Don’t forget those pesky Rays and the up and coming Toronto Blue Jays. In other words, making the playoffs might not be as easy as it’s been the last decade. This could be the worst time for the Yankees to get complacent as the American League is shaping up to be better than it has been in years.

It shouldn’t be a surprise the Yankees have taken this stance. Many pundits predicted the team would be more focused on the bottom line after the passing of George Steinbrenner. As Klapisch said in the column, “The Steinbrenners are about making money and winning championships. In that order.” History indicates they, at worst, will make the Wild Card and that’s fine since the playoffs have become more of a crapshoot. The addition of a second Wild Card, as early as this upcoming season, makes it highly unlikely the Yankees will be sitting home in October for years to come. Add in the fact their inter-borough competition, the Mets, have destroyed their brand under the Wilpons, and the Steinbrenners have at least a decade of equity built up in this town. It’s a cushion that could make the most voracious competitor complacent.

Complacency is a dangerous thing. I am all for the Yankees being prudent with their money, but the comments above tell a different tale. It about a team that wants to be good versus great. It’s a team that is willing to be satisfied with drawing 3+ million fans and selling merchandise. It’s a team that wants to win, but only at a specific bottom line. Sacrificing success to pacify investors has become the new American way so all the Steinbrenners are doing is getting on board with the American corporate mentality. The problem with that is when you focus on the outcome versus the process the results often don’t go your way. The Yankees are a powerhouse because of their tradition of winning, and in many ways it’s because of that insatiable greed to win.

A Yankees team that is prudent with its spending coupled with player development is bad news for the rest of the league. A complacent Yankees team that is satisfied with being good and delivering a maximum return on investment is music to the ears of the 29 other teams.

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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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9 Responses to Have the Yankees Become Complacent as an Organization?

  1. Michael Maggi

    Mike,

    A few years of losing due to complacency and fans will start disappearing like they did in the 1980s. Let’s see how that tickles Hal’s “bottom line” fancy.

  2. Frank Russo

    Mike,

    This was one of the best pieces that you have ever written!
    The average Yankees fan could care less what the share holders want. The Yankees are about winning championships, period! It’s their brand! I totally agree with Mike Maggi here! It’s a shame that Hal is a damn “numbers cruncher.” George is most likely screaming from upstairs as we speak! I can understand wanting to be under the Luxury Tax threshold, I’m all for it, but being complacent is a totally different animal. I don’t think that Yankees fans will stand for it if Cashman continues to build the club totally via the value route and we see them continue to get knocked out in the first round. If the Steinbrenner brothers had not been so stupid in regards to resigning ARod a few years ago, along with other bad contracts, they would have had a lot more payroll flexability now. They have no one to blame but themselves. Being competitive is one thing, being great is another. Let’s see how all the prospects turn out. If they don’t, then Cashman’s job will almost certainly be on the line in a year or two.

  3. Chuck Johnson

    “Let’s see how all the prospects turn out.”

    We will eventually.

    After they’re all traded.

    Brilliant move, let’s give Freddie Garcia four million and keep the Killer B’s and Adam Warren and Hector Noesi buried in Scranton.

  4. Stu B

    “George is most likely screaming from upstairs”

    If there are places beyond graves and cramatories, which itself is debatable ad infinitum and ad nauseum, his location is open to question – he was no saint.

  5. Stu B

    *crematories.

    PS – Mike, can the site be upgraded to allow us to edit our comments?

  6. Kevin Davis

    Mike, Lousy Article! NARROW MINDED AND SHORTSIGHTED! The Yankees are at worse comming back with basically the same team that won 97 games last year. Boston,despite adding a new manager is not a better team than what they had last year. Tampa Bay, even with Matt Moore will be hard pressed to meet last years success. Toronto is still a middle of the pack team and Baltimore has done nothing. To me it looks good for the Yanks too win the Al East again. As far as the Yanks not making any moves this year, did it ever occur to you that without making any moves, This Yankee team could be better than last years team. I tend to side with the Yanks. Phil Hughes will be the Phil Hughes of 2010 and win 18 games in the two slot. Ivan Nova proves the real deal and wins at least 15 games again in the 3rd slot. A.J. Burnett perfects his new delivery and wins 15 in the 4th slot and Freddie Garcia, David Phelps, Adam Warren, Hector Noesi, D.J. Mitchell, Delan Betances, Manny Buenelos or Brett Marshall, pick one, will win 10 to 13 games in the 5th slot. Mark Texiera works with the hitting Guru and learns to go the other way with the outside pitch to defeat the “shift” and hits .290 or better. Alex Rodriguez comes to camp healthey for the first time in two years and hits .290-.300 with 30+ homeruns. Brett Gardner continues to get better hitting .280+ with 70 stolen bases. Jesus Montero IS the real deal and hits .305 with 30+ homeruns replacing Jorge Posada. Russell Martin continues his good health and hits .270 with 25 homeruns, Robinson Cano wins the MVP edging out Mark Texiera by hitting .325 with 35 homeruns and 145rbi’s. Curtis Granderson follows his 2011 campaign hitting .275 with 30 homeruns and 130 runs scored batting second. Derek Jeter comes thru with a .290-.300 line with 125 runs scored leading off. Nick swisher hits .270 with 30 homeruns in his final year with the Yanks. Joe Girardi switches his number to 29.

  7. Kevin Davis

    To Frank Russo, A great judge of talent! LOL

  8. Stu B

    “Phil Hughes will be the Phil Hughes of 2010 and win 18 games in the two slot. Ivan Nova proves the real deal and wins at least 15 games again in the 3rd slot. A.J. Burnett perfects his new delivery and wins 15 in the 4th slot and Freddie Garcia, David Phelps, Adam Warren, Hector Noesi, D.J. Mitchell, Delan Betances, Manny Buenelos or Brett Marshall, pick one, will win 10 to 13 games in the 5th slot.”

    Maybe one or two of those things happens, but to assume all of them do is a lot of wishful thinking.

  9. Frank Russo

    Kevin Davis,

    You have your opinion and I have mine! If you don’t like it, then tough (*^)*(%&^. Sarcasm will get you no where.

    FYI, Cashman has already stated numerous times this off season that Betances, Manny B. and Warren are not in the plans for this year.

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