It sucks to be a Yankees fan right now. As we read more and more headlines like “Gross singles in 11th, Rays beat Yankees“, it becomes harder and harder to remain so committed.
It’s not like being a Cubs fan, or a Red Sox fan of days past. They were bad teams and they didn’t win. But when you have a team that looks great on paper, and – oh, by the way – is the highest payroll in Major League Baseball, you can reasonably expect a competitive team. That’s why the Yankees need to adopt the plan I’ve been yapping about for the last three or four years. Here goes:
The Yankees are a high priced team consisting of many expensive veteran players. The problem is, it’s a slippery slope, and to remain at that level or better, you must continue to acquire expensive, proven talent. Where does it get you? A team that doesn’t gel, a team that costs more each year, and a team that can’t produce. Why are there $50 million teams that can win in the post season and the Yankees can’t?
Enter my plan. It’s radical. It starts like this: scuttle the ship. We’ve gotta dump Abreu, Damon, Giambi, and Posada. We’ll keep Cano, Jeter, A-Rod, and Matsui. Start replacing your empty spots with younger guys with potential behind the bat. Melky Cabrera, Shelley Duncan… these guys need game time, not just when there’s an injury. Good guys become great only with experience.
Then we have to revisit pitching. We need to invest in some young prospects. Not just one. Don’t pin the hopes of the season on just one guy. Stop investing in $20 million/yr guys who no longer produce. Start sinking some cash into developing young guys by giving them some early innings. Accept that for a few years, we’re going to be not-so-good. And let’s focus on a few prospects we can grow into superstars. After all, until recently, when his effectiveness has declined slightly, who was our secret weapon? Mariano Rivera, homegrown talent.
Now is the perfect time to execute this plan. The AL is as competitive as ever, there are some really good teams, and the odds of making the post-season, frankly, are against us. I recognize that it’s early in the season, but the Yankees strength has always been in slow-but-steady consistency. I don’t see that this year, and even if I did, there are enough good teams that even that old trick may not play out in Yankee favor. If we’re going to lose, I’d like to take advantage of that time to rebuild, restructure, retrain, re-energize, and reinvigorate.