Friday, November 18, 2016


With the Presidential election finally concluded, America can concentrate on what truly matters: focusing on what the Yankees do this off-season.

The possibilities are endless now that the organization finally has a top-rated minor league system - thanks to some “win-win” trades Brian Cashman and his staff made in the second half of the 2016 campaign. 

(Getty Images)
One school of thought has the team following the model it created during Cashman’s tenure - utilize the farm system as bartering chips in bringing in established stars, then sign those stars to exorbitant contracts they cannot possibly live up to. One rumor along those lines has the team trading multiple baby Bombers to the Angels for Mike Trout. Read COULD THE YANKEES GO FISHING FOR TROUT? for more.  

While that certainly has its appeal, the last time I checked, Mr. Trout can’t pitch. Why make a deal like that for the sole purpose of making a deal like that? Why “outsource” when we have so many possibilities already under our umbrella?  I think Cashman thinks like I think. That's why he just flipped McCann to the Astros for young arms.

I’ve been screaming for years that it’s time for a new business model. The current one has managed to bring just one world championship to the Bronx. Even that one could be credited to “even a blind squirrel will find a nut once in a while”. We have an opportunity to see the fruits of our own garden ripen. Just think of the team we can put on the field next year without losing a single member of our farm system.

At first base we will have a healthy Greg Bird. When last the Yankees were able to get a glimpse of the 24 year-old in action, he pounded 11 home runs and drove in 31 over 46 games. That translates to 39 HR and 109 RBI over a full season. The last time a Yankee first baseman put those numbers up was in 2011 when Mark Teixeira hit 39 dingers and drove in 111. 

At second base, 26 year-old Starlin Castro was solid for us. He hit .270 and pounded out 21 home runs in his first season as a Yankee.  At shortstop, 26 year-old Didi Gregorius improved upon his first season in pinstripes and hit .276 with 20 home runs and 70 RBI while flashing his sparkling arm and glove in the field.

The hot corner appears to be the only position where the Yankees will be stuck with more of the “same old, same old” for at least another season. At 33, Chase Headley will be the senior member of the infield. In 2016, he reduced his errors from 23 the previous year to 10 and hit a respectable .253.

If he can’t stay consistent, manager Joe Girardi has shown he won’t hesitate to turn to 24 year-old Ronald Torreyes (.258) or 25 year-old Rob Refsnyder (.250) who has never been given a fair shot at a regular slot in the order.

(Courtesy: YES Network)
In the outfield, the potential for the Yankees is without a ceiling. Yes, 33 year-old Brett Gardner actually had a slight improvement in the second half of 2016, and yes he won a gold glove, but let’s face it, Gardy is never going to give us more than what we’ve already seen – a batting average somewhere near .260, about 20 stolen bases, 80 runs and an on-base percentage around .345. He is what he is. 

(Sept. 7, 2016 - Source: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America)
25 year-old Baby Bomber Tyler Austin hit .323 at AAA Scranton and in a brief stay with the Yankees, put 5 balls over the wall and drove in 12 while seeing time in 31 games. That translates to 26 homers over the course of a season, and he played flawless in the field as both and outfielder and backup first baseman. His versatility and potential may result in him breaking camp with the team for Opening Day 2017.

Mason Williams is another farm system call-up that has the potential to open next season in the Bronx. After hitting .296 with Scranton, he was called up to the Yankees and hit .296 in 12 games. At 25, he’s just starting his peak years and still has his best yet to come.

(Sept. 5, 2016 - Source: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America)
Aaron Judge hit .270 with 19 home runs in 93 games at Scranton last season. When called up to the Bronx late in the year, he promptly homered on his first at-bat (as did Austin). At 6’ 7” and 275 lbs, he dwarfs everyone else trotting out into the field with him and the only thing bigger than his immense frame is his potential. He is one of the gems in the minor league system (along with Gary Sanchez) that the Yankees consistently refused to deal, and now would seem to be the time for the team to garner the rewards for holding onto him. The 24 year-old strikes out a lot (42 times in 27 games with the Yankees in 2016), but it is something he’ll be working on this off-season. Right field is wide open now that Carlos Beltran is gone, and Judge has to be considered one of the favorites – if not the favorite for that position in 2017.

Along with Jacoby Ellsbury and a cast of minor league outfielders like Jake Cave, Dustin Fowler and Clint Frazier, the Yankees depth in the outfield leaves them with many options when they break camp in 2017. It's exciting.

(Sept. 17, 2016 - Source: Rich Gagnon/Getty Images North America)
Last, but not least, the backstop of 2016, and the backstop for the foreseeable future in the Bronx is Gary Sanchez. The runner-up for Rookie of the Year (only because he played in just 53 games) showed that along with a golden arm (he gunned down 41% of runners trying to swipe a bag), he has a golden bat (.299, 20 hr, 40 RBI in FIFTY THREE GAMES). At just 23 years-old he is already the face of the franchise. He is the best move that Brian Cashman never made. In addition to his incredible physical talents, he showed a maturity beyond his years at managing a game from behind the plate. He is scrappy, and resilient. Who’d have thought that the Yankees next “Jeter” would be a catcher? After watching him play in 2016, Gary Sanchez has certainly made a believer out of me.

It has been quite a while since the Yankees future has burned so bright. It’s so close now that we can taste it. The new era is upon us, and we just need our management team to believe in the youth it has already under its control. 

(Nov. 3, 2016 - Source: Dylan Buell/Getty Images North America)
It’s time for the new model – the model that Theo Epstein used in both Boston and Chicago and the model that San Francisco and Kansas City have used to hoist their trophies. 

“Outsourcing” is quickly fading, and the pieces are in place to make it obsolete altogether. Let’s use what we have to bring a championship back to New York.

I'm back folks!  How am I doing?

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