For too long, the New York Yankees were shielding themselves from what has evidently become an exciting time to bleed navy blue.
As the August 1 trade deadline crept closer by the minute, the New York Yankees had a vital decision to make. The fate of the organization lied in the hands of Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner.
To buy or to sell. To contend or to pretend.
A franchise used to reaching baseball’s greatest peak had a tough time coming to terms. Simply put, throwing the towel in was not the way the Yankees were meant to be operated.
Of course, plenty of factors had to come into motion at full force. However, the level of irony in the front office’s decision-making has reached new heights.
As witnessed by now, the Yankees sold. It did not come easy and certainly brought about a great deal of doubt. Shipping off assets was not a route the higher-ups had ever attempted.
The well-documented fears remained. A loss of relevancy, empty seats in August and September, and a lack of well-deserved pride in the fanbase.
Fans were able to buy in simply because they deserved a future, making the constant worthless aging acquisitions a thing of the past. Bringing in the likes of Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield, Billy McKinney, and Dillon Tate filled the air with an aroma of optimism.
“Perhaps two or three years down the road the Yankees can piece the young talent together and form a serious contender.”
What everyone — including the executive level — failed to realize is just how relevant 2016 could become. How a team trading arguably its three most valuable chips could even remotely improve.
What everyone came up short in grasping were the new avenues vacated in turn.
Sure, Carlos Beltran was having a sensational year, particularly for a 39-year-old. Were his services exactly what the Yankees needed? Absolutely not. His spot had to be opened up.
Not only did he occupy a role at DH but he clogged right field.
Would you say trading away two dominant relievers worsened the Yankees, especially considering they acquired serious upper-end youngsters? While stacking the farm, the Yankees were able to maintain a formidable ‘pen, fortified with the underrated Tyler Clippard deal.
Soon thereafter, spots automatically became available, already existing farmhands could sniff big league action, and the remaining holes — Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez — took action on their immediate futures.
Since that very date, the Yankees are 9-5 (.643), trimming 1.5 games off the division deficit and an even game off the wild card climb.
If there was any question as to whether they could play meaningful baseball, or a brand worthy of making a postseason push, the direct inquiry has been put to bed.
The DH vacancy cleared a path for Gary Sanchez, who has now assumed catching duties with the flexibilities the clearance provided. The kid is a straight stud, something the Yanks would have failed to realize if a major league sample size had not presented itself.
Through 11 games, he is a .302 hitter with two homers and six runs batted in. Moreover, he effectively shuts down a running game, has shown an ability to handle a pitching staff, and is more than capable of holding his own when blocking potential wild pitches.
A combination of Beltran’s departure and A-Rod’s release paved way for Aaron Judge, who will now get his rightful chance to play every day. Seizing the opportunity already, the 24-year-old right fielder has pounded two homers and driven in three runs through merely three games in the show.
Not to mention Tyler Austin’s promotion, an immediate success given his poise and explosiveness.
The situation became so magical that they unloaded in their first big league at-bats sequentially.
Didi Gregorius, who has been magnificent all year, is finally in a coveted position in the lineup (No. 3).
Starlin Castro has driven in 13 runs in 14 games since the bevy of deals. Why? Greater positions to succeed and the raw power he unleashes in those spots.
Dellin Betances, at last, is in a righteously earned closing role, continuing to dominate without a hitch.
Incredible opportunities have surfaced, the nature of the offense is fluid rather than stagnant, and the club’s mystique has skyrocketed. Above all, the team is no longer boring to watch.
Even if they are trailing 12-3 in a ballgame, the temptation to flip the channel has been lifted. Shutting off the TV would squander a chance to witness another mammoth shot off the bat of Judge, or perhaps an eye-popping play from Sanchez behind the dish.
With the current charisma, 12-3 deficits no longer feel like 30-3 holes.
The team being fielded day in and day out will get fans to the stadium and improve merchandise sales. Financially, the overhaul made a lot more sense than anyone would have fathomed.
As far as relevancy, that is achieved. Not only does the current look result in excitement but it has produced wins. A serious push at a playoff spot or even an improbable run at the division crown would not come to the surprise of fans.
The ironic nature of the ordeal is simply that fans have more comfort with the lineup card being put out on a daily basis. A winning mentality has been restored in the Bronx.
So while the moves made on August 1, and prior, will pay dividends in 2017 and beyond, the Yankees may have been fooled by their own course of action. With that said, the misconceptions only play to their benefit.
The state of the franchise and the 2016 product is in superior hands.