Yankee fans are a pretty tough group to please. We all know the narrative by now: the Yankees expect to win, and that feeling starts with the ownership and extends to the players, coaches, and fans. World Series or bust. All or nothing. It’s a bit of a tired adage at this point, and carries with it its own sense of entitlement, but it is the inevitable product of success and expectations. I don’t always agree with it – there have been many seasons where the Yankees fell short of the World Series, and yet I found myself reflecting back upon that season fondly. But I’m strange: I think the journey is just as important as the end result.
I’m not trying to complain about the win-at-all-costs Yankee attitude. What I am complaining about, is the way this attitude manifests itself in the offseason. Ever since Cliff Lee decided to sign with the Phillies, Yankee fans seem to believe this offseason has become a colossal failure. Yes, I wanted the Yankees to sign Lee too (heck, I made a Lee Yankee jersey for Halloween), but let’s face it: giving out $150+ million contracts to pitchers isn’t always the best idea anyways.
The LoHud blog has begun running its pinch hitter series, where they put up a guest post every day from fans and bloggers. To sum up the general theme of the posts thus far: “Brian Cashman is terrible; he has no plan after Lee; he loves his prospects too much; he needs to trade the farm and do something now.”
The one thing these critiques always lack however, is an actual suggested plan. So you think Cashman should make a move; well what move should he make? Clearly Yankee ownership wanted to do something and thus pushed for the Rafael Soriano signing. In my previous post, I looked at the positives and negatives of that signing. I did not say I hated it mind you – I just said that, while it makes the Yankees better right now, it might not have been the wisest allocation of funds. Such a suggestion was enough to get people angry in the comments section. So clearly, Yankee fans are desperate for them to sign and/or trade for players.
Here’s the thing though, which is actually pretty much my point: there is no “offseason winner.” Yes, the hot stove season can be fun, but nobody wins anything. Sure, offseason acquisitions obviously have an impact, but just because you sign the big name doesn’t mean anything. What did the Yankees win for signing Jason Giambi? Gary Sheffield? Trading for A-Rod? Randy Johnson? More offseasons than not, the Yankees acquire the biggest name, but that does not guarantee postseason heroics the following year. Before the 2009 season, they signed CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and A.J. Burnett, and that did indeed pay immediate dividends. But isn’t that more the exception that proves the rule? When Cashman does sign big names and trade away his prospects, everyone cries because now the Yankees don’t have homegrown guys. Yet now, when the Yankees are patient, they are too in love with their prospects.
Yes, the Yankees could have traded the farm for Grienke, but they didn’t think he was worth it. Maybe you disagree and you’re certainly entitled to that opinion. Who else could they possibly make a move for at this point though? Let me be the first to tell you that guys like Felix Hernandez, Josh Johnson, and Tim Lincecum are flat-out unavailable.
So why not just try to tinker a little bit with a team that primarily underachieved its way to 95 wins last season and see what happens? What’s wrong with holding on to some of those trade chips and some of that extra money until a real opportunity presents itself? Because those opportunities will come and trust me: the Yankees will not be shy about making a big move. And you know what else? In the meantime, the Yankees will still be pretty damn good.