The New York Yankees have been the model for excellence in major league baseball for just about forever. They have the most World Series titles in history and it’s not even close. They have more pennants than any other team in history and it’s not even close. They’re worth more than any other team and it’s not even close. Their expectations are higher than any other team and that may be the biggest issue with them right now.
The Yankees are currently sitting dead last in the American League East division. They have almost twice as many losses as wins right now and the team formerly known as “The Bronx Bombers” is currently one of the worst offensive teams in the league. They’re tied for last in runs scored, they are 21st in the league in home runs, and they are 23rd in the league in batting average. Ranking in the bottom ten in three very important offensive categories isn’t what you expect from a team that is second in the MLB in payroll. The Yankees have over $200,000,000 in total payroll. They have always been known to spend money to get the players they want and win games. Now, I won’t sit here and claim that the Yankees “buy their wins,” as so many Yankee haters will proclaim, however, I will say that this could be a lesson to the Yankees.
While Bryce Harper is trying to usher in a new era in baseball, it seems that he may be a bit late to the party. The league has changed as sports in general have changed. The allure of the big cities and bright lights no longer interest athletes as much as they once did. There has been a much bigger emphasis on systematic fit, personal relationships, and actual competitiveness. Players don’t want to play for teams that are sub-par in the talent department and unfortunately for the Yankees, that’s exactly what they are right now. They have grossly overpaid players like Jacoby Ellsbury, Chase Headley, and C.C. Sabathia. The Yankees have a tendency of signing players to long term contracts when they are beginning the decline of their careers. While other teams look to lock up young talent, the Yankees seem to wait for that talent to peak and then go and sway those players to join them. The Yankees, for some reason, seem to be against a long rebuild process similar to that of the Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals, and New York Mets to just name a few. There is a trend throughout all sports that is relatively obvious but often ignored. Building your team meticulously and methodically is the recipe for long term success. This has never been the Yankee way. So, as they wait out these contracts that they’re paying before they can open up the checkbooks again, they will suffer. They will endure at least another season of this dreadful play.
The issue that the Yankees really have is that none of their big contracts are trade-able. Most of the time, when a team is starting to get a little older and they are on the decline, they are able to trade some of their veteran players for prospects to rebuild with. The Yankees are going to be unable to do so. No team out there will be willing to pay Alex Rodriguez his $27 million per year. No team will be willing to pay C.C. Sabathia’s $23 million this year or Mark Teixeira his $22 million this year. Even if the Yankees were willing to pay some of those salaries, the talent of these players has just deteriorated. A-Rod had a nice bounce back year last season but has struggled early on this year. C.C. Sabathia is no longer the pitcher he once was and he really hasn’t been for over two years and Mark Teixeira hasn’t been able to stay healthy at all. To put it lightly, the Yankees are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Who knows what the Yankees will do but their delusional general manager, Brian Cashman, seems ready to make drastic changes. For one reason or another, he has this idea that the Yankees should be playing for a playoff spot this year. If you look up and down this roster, this is by no means a playoff team. Brian Cashman has come out in the media recently and expressed his displeasure with the performance of the team and has made threats to make serious changes. Who knows what that actually means but it could spell the end of manager Joe Girardi’s reign on the Yankees top step. It’s an unfortunate situation because this team wouldn’t make the playoffs with Connie Mack as the manager. The Yankees have no choice but to ride out these long contracts and suffer in mediocrity for the next couple years. Whether they choose to take the long road and rebuild from within the organization or go back to the free agent pool and take a swim, we will see. It would seem to be most beneficial for them to do the latter but again, that has never been the “Yankee way.”
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