Tuesday, October 14, 2014

New York Yankees: Easy does it Mr. Lupica

Since the New York Yankees recently extended the contract of general manager Brian Cashman, there have been a slew of articles written by those “in the know” -- namely the Bombers beat writers and others in the New York print media -- about how the Yanks will fare in the upcoming season.

Today, I’m going to delve into the work of one of the most well-known members of New York’s (and the nation's) sports media, Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News, and provide my commentary on his observations and remarks from an article published Oct. 11.

Somehow Yankees continue to perpetuate Bronx tale that they are close to winning World Series every year — they’re not

First off, good lord that’s some headline. And I struggle for pageviews.

For all those that despise the Yankees and relish in their “demise,” this is Lupica in his finest I can’t stand the Yankees rant. His dislike and the simple narrative actually makes it easier for me to counter.

Among his disillusions are that the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants don’t spend money on their teams. According to the Cardinals ($128 million plus) ranked 11th in MLB and the Giants ($172 million plus) were fifth in salary cap metrics for 2014. By the way, these teams won 90 and 88 games respectively. They didn’t exactly overwhelm their competition. An underperforming Yankees squad won 84.

Indeed the Yankees spend a boatload (just under $234 million) on their payroll. But, enough with everyone pretending that other teams don’t and then end up having similar issues as the Yanks. The Los Angeles Dodgers doled out $243 million (#1), the Los Angeles Angels shelled out more than $174 million (#3) and the Detroit Tigers spent $171 million plus (#6). Each was bounced early and convincingly from the first round of the playoffs. The Tigers had a difficult time reaching the postseason.

How about some teams that had worse records than the Yankees and spent more than $150 million? The Philadelphia Phillies ($172 million plus for 73 wins) and the Boston Red Sox ($157 million for 71 wins) were fourth and seventh in payroll cap expenditures. Look, failures abound with teams that spend a lot on their payroll.

Next, Lupica rips the Yankees for their recent playoff swoon. He makes some valid points about how money is not the only way to build a franchise and that they have to stay true to rebuilding the farm system once and for all. He criticizes the signings of CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira. He insinuates that the Jacoby Ellsbury signing will be a mess after five years.

He may be right, but where he is wrong is that the Yankees aren’t always a couple of moves away from getting to the postseason. And once there, as the Kansas City Royals have demonstrated thus far, anything can happen. The Yankees arguably stayed in the race with a few midseason moves and if one of Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran or Teixeira had a season which was expected of them they could have managed five more wins.

The Yankees survived on a makeshift rotation for a better part of the season. Please don’t try to spin a tale that Shane Greene, Chase Whitley and Vidal Nuno should be expected to be better than Sabathia and Ivan Nova? Just having Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda all season could have been the difference in whether the Yanks reached the postseason or not.

The Yankees didn’t receive an injury-free and every-facet-clicking roster like the Red Sox of 2013. In fact it was the reverse as they used a record number of players in 2014 (58), topping the previous record (56) set in 2013.

Lupica then asks, who do we want to pay big money to watch next season? Like the Yankees are vacant of stars? I'd start with Tanaka. Pineda. Ellsbury. Dellin BetancesBrett Gardner. Even McCann. Would the Yankees like Robinson Cano back? Yes, but to Lupica’s point, the contract cost would have been detrimental in its final years.

Lupica continues his rant by placing the Yankees in the discussion for signing Max Scherzer, Jon Lester or James Shields. He ignores the fact that the Yankees have outwardly suggested they might stick with Brandon McCarthy and the young arms in the system while hoping Sabathia, Nova and Tanaka are injury free.

For a man who has been at the top of the New York sports media for so long, I wonder why he’s fallen into the trap of spinning the easy narrative? Maybe he spends too much time at all his radio and television gigs where they want or should I say need him to pop off without providing the other side of the argument.

Yes, the Yankees have gone about business wrong over the last several years. Yes, they have failed to reach the playoffs for two straight seasons. But finally yes, and contrary to Mr. Lupica’s perception, the Yankees are always just a couple of moves away from reaching the pinnacle of the baseball world.

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.