After a strong 2017 campaign, it will be hard for the New York Yankees to let go of both Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman.
Twenty-seventeen has been nothing short of a pleasant surprise for the New York Yankees. This phrase has been thrown around a lot this year but it’s only because it’s the truth. Nobody expected the Yankees to be comfortably in control of the top Wild Card position or within striking distance of the Boston Red Sox at the top of the American League East this late into the season.
Arguably two of the biggest reasons for this earlier than expected Yankees success haven’t even stepped foot on the diamond: General Manager and Senior Vice President Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi.
Both Cashman and Girardi could be both classified as “polarizing” figures within the Yankees organization. When it comes to these two, fans either love them or hate them. However, no fan can dispute the fact that Cashman and Girardi have killed it this season and deserves contract extensions following the conclusion of the 2017 season.
Let’s start with the skipper.
During his tenure with the Yankees, Girardi has received a lot scrutiny from fans and members of the media alike.
“He rests guys too often.”
“He doesn’t know how to use a bullpen.”
“He’s no Joe Torre.”
While there is some truth in the criticism of Girardi, there is no denying he is a crucial part of the team this year and the team’s foreseeable future.
Managing is not easy. Not just anybody could take a team expected to maybe be a contender for the second Wild Card to one of the best 4 teams in the American League, especially with the added pressure of being in New York.
While some fans selfishly don’t want Girardi to receive a new contract extension just because they don’t like the guy, they need to consider who it’ll actually affect if he is let go: the young players.
The Baby Bombers, when in respect to being at the major league level, are just that — babies. They’re new and they’re still getting used to the grind and differences between the majors and the minors. In addition to that, they’re impressionable and need a constant voice guiding them to the top.
Part of what made the Core Four as great as they were was consistent leadership during the formidable years of their careers. The likes of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Luis Severino deserve that same chance at consistency and keeping Girardi past this season gives them just that.
Now, onto Cashman.
Cashman, like Girardi, has taken his fair share of scrutiny from the Yankee faithful. From trading away highly touted young prospects to signing veterans to ludicrous contracts that rarely ever worked out, Cashman has made moves that left fans enraged and confused.
However, in recent years, Cashman learned to adapt. Baseball, like all sports, is evolving all the time. Gone are the days of just signing every big name on the market and hoping for the best. The tried and true basic formula of growing a young core and surrounding them with solid role players is back in vogue.
Young, homegrown teams like the Kansas City Royals and Chicago Cubs have held up a World Series trophy in recent years and Cashman saw the writing on the wall. Rather than go out and sign more marquee talents, Cashman has developed his own All-Stars with the likes of Judge, Sanchez and Severino.
In addition to allowing his young talent to properly develop within the Yankees system, Cashman has gone out and gotten some of the top prospects in baseball to bolster the farm. At the 2016 trade deadline, Cashman traded away older, valuable pieces in Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Carlos Beltran for elite prospects Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield, amongst others.
Cashman has proved to be a master of wheeling and dealing beyond the 2016 trade deadline. In the winter of 2014, he acquired Derek Jeter’s successor at shortstop in Didi Gregorius in three-team trade that sent Shane Greene to the Detroit Tigers. One year later, Cashman sent Adam Warren and Brendan Ryan to the Cubs for second baseman Starlin Castro, eventually got Warren back in the Chapman/Torres trade and then proceeded to re-sign Chapman.
Most recently, Cashman acquired Sonny Gray from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Dustin Fowler, Jorge Mateo and James Kaprelian. All three are good prospects yet were expendable. The Yankees will sorely need skills like this in order to continue elevating in the American League.
It seems like a foregone conclusion that the Yankees will end up in the postseason this year. Whether their season ends after the Wild Card game, the ALDS, the ALCS or maybe even the World Series, Girardi and Cashman will both be without a contract following the final game. This can’t be the case for long.
The Yankees need them both back. If, in fact, they are both back for 2018, expect nothing short of success.