Friday, December 12, 2014

Will Yankees choose now or the future?

The Winter Meetings were exceptional if you’re into big signings and huge trades, but not for some fans of the New York Yankees. For many Yankees fans, it was a downer, especially after the previous Friday when they signed Andrew Miller and traded for Didi Gregorius. What the meetings provided for Yankees fans is a wake-up call on how the club will be doing business in the future.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is not pulling the trigger in a reactionary way. He will not sacrifice cash and the future of the club by signing contracts which could turn sour quickly, or be a drain at the end of the term. Cashman is going to hold his ground and rebuild this system whether you like it or not.

Or so I hope.

Will he get swept aside by ownership when Scott Boras goes straight to Hal Steinbrenner about Max Scherzer? It is possible. And Cashman will let you know if that’s the case. He hasn’t publically dismissed the notion of entering into talks with Boras about Scherzer, but nothing he’s done so far this offseason points to a man looking to make a splash. That was last year’s answer and it netted the Yankees one less win than the year before and another year without a postseason appearance.

Instead, Cashman looks like the general manager who finally sees the big picture. Loads of money is coming off the books after the 2016 and 2017 seasons. There are several players coming up the farm system, both pitching and positional players, who can make an impact at that time.

The good news is the Yankees aren’t going to turn into a team that doesn’t spend money and looks for the bargain basement deal. I think the Miller deal proves that. But, they’re going to be a bit shrewder about where that money goes and when they spend it. They’re going to want to earmark some of it for players they hope will be the next franchise player. The Yankees want to have a new core of home grown talent and keep them long-term when the time comes.

So getting back to Scherzer; can the Yankees withstand a contract that will be sucking air in years five, six and seven (or even year eight) when Scherzer’s violent motion catches up to him and the volume of pitches thrown that Boras mentions now add up? Financially, yes, but if the future is the key to another run of successful seasons with a potential World Series title mixed in Scherzer is not essential.

Scherzer certainly provides the Yankees with a better chance to win in 2015. The injury history that the Yankees have returning to the rotation this coming season is extensive. And guess what? One starter, even one of Scherzer’s ilk cannot overcome two other rotation members going down with an extended injury.

Most people are looking at the rotation and suggesting that if CC Sabathia continues to decline and/or gets hurt again, or if Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow finally gives out, or that Michael Pineda’s shoulder is not right or finally that Ivan Nova cannot provide enough after returning from Tommy John surgery that the Yankees NEED Scherzer to pick up the slack.

I’ve got news for you. If two of those four players cannot make 30 starts in 2015 (and we know Nova will not), the Yankees will have a very hard time making the playoffs even if Scherzer is a part of the team.

On the other hand, if the Yankees gamble that Tanaka’s elbow will hold out, Pineda can make 30 starts and Sabathia finds enough in the tank to be a viable third starter, would they need Scherzer? Add Nova as the fourth starter and pick from David Phelps, Adam Warren, Bryan Mitchell or Manny Banuelos as fifth starter and isn’t the rotation as good as it was last season? I can see Phelps, Warren, Mitchell or even Banuelos as 2015’s Shane Greene. Beyond that, Cashman can ink an arm or two from the bargain basement bin and hope for the best as well. Or he can try to find a deadline deal like he found in Brandon McCarthy in 2014 if no one is able to step up.

Need another reason Scherzer is not the be-all end-all answer? Let’s talk about the offense. Has it gotten much better this offseason? No, it has not. And in theory, even if they add Chase Headley, he was in the Bronx for half the season and while he was good, he is not a difference maker with the bat. Does it matter one iota if Scherzer is on the mound and has to hold teams to two runs each time he starts in order to win?

The offense has its own clunker deals clogging up space for the next two to three seasons. Alex Rodriguez is getting paid $63 million for three more years and Mark Teixeira is getting $23.125 million for each of the next two. Jacoby Ellsbury is making close to $21.5 million per year for the next six years and Brian McCann is making $17 million per season through 2018. Carlos Beltran has two more seasons left on his deal at $15 million apiece.

ONE of those players was worth their salary on the offensive side last season and that was Ellsbury. Does anyone feel confident that he’ll play in 149 games again this season? Are you ready to say that each of these guys can turn things around in 2015 and be a factor? I’d make that bet on McCann only, and it wouldn't be a huge play.

What you saw from Teixeira and Beltran might have had to do with injuries, but neither of them was lighting up the scoreboard when healthy either. As for A-Rod, he’s going to be a shell of what he was before the performance-enhancing drug suspension and that was not much. He’ll turn 40 this season, not exactly a savior in my view.

So, the Yankees should dole out $180-$200 million for Scherzer and add to the glut of troubles when the Yankees offense is no better than last season? And they’ll be committed to all the players I mentioned in 2016 as well.

The more and more I think about it, the Yankees should not be nearly as concerned about Scherzer, but should be getting ready to clear the way for some young blood that can make a difference.

Mitchell and Banuelos might get some time in 2015 while Luis Severino and Ian Clarkin have the potential to fill rotation spots in the next few seasons. Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder are knocking on the door from the positional side right now. MLB.com’s top Yankees prospects including Gary Sanchez, Eric Jagielo, Aaron Judge, Jake Cave, Gregory Bird, Ramon Flores, and Tyler Austin can all make a difference very soon be it in the Bronx or as a trade chip.

Further, by shying away from Scherzer the Yankees can actually use their first round pick in the 2015 First-Year Player Draft and along with the compensation pick from losing David Robertson, the Yanks could reap rewards there.

Finally, the Yankees heavily invested in international free agents this year, signing 10 of the top 30 players according to Baseball America. While many of them might not materialize, chances are good that one or two can become an impactful major league player for the Yankees. Again, the Yankees are spending money just in different areas.

Abstaining from the Scherzer sweepstakes could signal another year or even two in which the Yankees could miss the playoffs. But, adding to a glut of bad contracts right before they are about to get others off the books, while the farm system continues to get better, could make matters worse.

What do you think? Should the Yankees stay the course or go after Scherzer? Let me know in the comments below.

Salary information is courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer and sports media strategist. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



14 comments:

  1. Right on. Need homegrown talent SOONER than later. A-Rod is a dud. Hope he can't perform at all

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  2. I could see this mess coming a few years ago. An organization cannot continue to add players in their 30's and sign them to contracts of 7,8 yrs. Back in the 90's the Yankee's had really good home grown talent like Derek, Andy, Bernie, Mariano & Jorge. They mixed in solid players like Brosius, Tino & O'neil, and won with that formula for yrs. Signing Cashman to a new 3 yr contract may well have been a mistake. They need someone like an Andrew Friedman or Billy Beane, someone who see's and knows how to develop a farm system. Until Hal changes his approach the Yankees may be just another team I am sorry to say. I am a concerned Yanks fan and I think Yankee fans should be concerned at this point!!!

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  3. Stay the course and bring along the next Jeter, Posada, Rivera! I want the next...age of golden years!

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  4. yanx have to stay the course. perhaps pick up some bargain basement (ie., 2nd tier and injured arms that could recover in '15; Capuano??) pitchers and load up in bull pen or store some of the excess in Scranton. also, let some of the kids - Refsnyder and Pierela get a chance now. Why not?? the team is far more than one good pitcher away from being championship caliber and they are over loaded w/bad contracts now. that being said all cashman did so far was trade cervelli (a talented player) for a so-so reliever, trade Robertson for miller + a draft pick and lost McCarthy (also Headley??), got a questionable ss for shane greene (one of our best pitchers in '14) and has not replaced kuroda. Pretty miserable strategy (was that their plan going in to the off season??? seriously ???). they basically lost their 3 best 2nd half pitchers and got zero in return. wow !!!! well done Mr. "Cash"man

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    1. Thanks for the comments. I agree one pitcher is not going to solve their issues. But they did turn Greene, pretty much a nobody until last season into a young shortstop who has some upside. Cervelli ran his course here, and I'm betting Wilson will be a welcome addition. McCarthy is not worth what he got from L.A. I think they end up with Headley, but if they don't Prado at third with the kids battling for second base is not the end of the world.

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  5. As far as the " Core Four " is concerned... Jeter was the only one projected to be a really good player. The Yanks got lucky with everyone else, But I agree we need a good mix of young players and older players. Play kids from farm and let the solid base of older players bring them along. I do believe some of these long contracts from the past are a big drag on team. cut bait and clear a roster spot and give a kid a chance from farm system.

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    1. Thanks for the comments. You're right, we won't know what Yankees have with the youth until they put them on the field. Maybe one, two or even three of them return dividends in the future.

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  6. Forget Scherzer, or any other player that logic tells you cannot not perform throughout the length of their contract. Eight years for a pitcher is nuts whether he is 30 or 20. The first piece from a box of Godiva chocolate tastes great but by the time you get to piece #25 you are sick of them. Not every player can be a Cadillac, you need some Chevrolets also. Even a Caddy gets "hurt" after 7 or so years. I would rather have a roster of 2 or 3 tool players that are physically sound than a bunch of 5 tools guys who are on the DL constantly. All the players mentioned in this article are pick-ups from other teams. Not one is home grown. The Yankees need to take a look at the personnel who draft their players and their minor league system that fails to product major leaguers. Clean house. Get some people who can draft and prepare players to perform in the "Show." It is not always the players, many times the Coaches need to be replaced..

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  7. I agree with your ideas on how the Yankees need to approach the re-tooling. I do think Beltran may bounce back better than you think though because his elbow was a big reason for his struggles and that should be corrected. I am looking forward to 2017 when hopefully the infield has Bird, Refsnyder, Gregorious, and Jailego with Sanchez at C and Judge joining Gardner and Elsbury in the O. One can hope!

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    1. It's possible Beltran comes back strong. I hope so. I wasn't too high on him last year because of his age and St. Louis didn't really try hard to keep him. That said a lot to me. Hopefully he does have a bounce back season. The offense needs it.

      I'm also hopeful the system churns out some major league talent and that they don't stall in Triple-A. We'll see.

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  8. I love the Yankees. Stay the course, develop and sign homegrown talent. Sign key free agents, and not the way they have been doing it the past several years--gobbling up anyone they can. Most Yankees fans are tired to death of these dumb, gigantic free agent signings. We will gladly put up with a few years of "almost"--only IF we know the team is actually building a new generation of quality players. With the $$ the Yankees have, it should be easier to do it at the ground level than at the 31 - 37 year old level.

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    1. Thanks for the comment. Agreed, finding the right young talent and paying them to stay and become stars in New York is the way to go. Hopefully the players' talents continue to develop in order to warrant such a methodology.

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  9. The Yankees need to go with younger players and not sign 30+ players to large contracts. 2nd tier guys like Kris Medlen or Brandon Beachy, and if the Yankees want a front line pitcher trade for Cole Hamels. They missed their chance at a bat by not trading for Jason Hayward who would have fit Yankees stadium Perfectly.

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    1. Thanks for the comment. I touched on Hamels just a bit in a post written today. Not sure Yankees have what the Phillies would want for him. Outfield was seen as filled by them with Gardner, Ellsbury and Beltran.

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