Brian Cashman did a wide-ranging one-on-one with the NY Post's Steve Serby ahead of pitchers and catchers reporting Tuesday, but for the most part his responses were all about managing expectations.
Only he did a little more than manage them. He drove a steamroller over them and then backed up and down a few times for good measure.
On why Yankee fans should be excited about the coming season: "We’re assembling a crew of talent that some they know, but some they don’t know. And some of the unknowns have pretty exciting upside. And hopefully some of that upside will start arriving in a consistent manner as early as ’17."
I don't know about you, but for this Yankee fan, hoping for some consistent upside to start arriving is about as unexciting a reason to look forward to a season as I can imagine. In fact, that sounds like exactly what I've been doing for seven years.
A deep playoff run is exciting to look forward to. Another season of cherry-picking bright spots to dwell on from a cast of under performers that ends with yet another "Wait til next year" speech from Brian is not.
Serby took another stab at trying to elicit some enthusiasm from the GM on this particular point further along in their chat, asking him directly if he felt the playoffs were realistic for this 2017 Yankees team.
"I think it’s possible," Brian answered, "Obviously if we stay healthy, and most of the roster performs up to their projected ceilings, then I think we have a shot."
Most of the roster playing up to their projected ceilings? In even the most accomplished players' careers, how many seasons did they ever achieve their projected ceiling? At best, you hope players who have been regressing can reverse their slide and those who have progressed continue to take incremental steps forward, with a breakout or two here and there an added bonus.
The odds that most of a baseball roster performs up to their projected ceiling is roughly the same as being dealt a same-suit royal flush at a casino poker table.
Ironically, one of his most optimistic responses had to with the team's starting pitching.
|(Aug. 29, 2016 - Source: Ed Zurga/Getty Images North America)|
On what he would tell Yankees fans who are concerned about the rotation: "I understand. We’ve tried to address it. Pitching wasn’t our problem last year as much as our offense was, but at the same time, pitching is the key to the kingdom and obviously the recipe for success. We’re gonna be counting on [Masahiro] Tanaka, [Michael] Pineda and CC [Sabathia] again, and there’s five younger players that are gonna be competing in the rotation between [Luis] Cessa, [Chad] Green, [Adam] Warren, Severino and [Bryan] Mitchell.
|(Aug. 14, 2016 - Source: Rich Schultz/Getty Images North America)|
And it’s my job to continue to add to that if there are possibilities that are realistic that align with our interests. In the meantime, we have a lot of good arms, and hopefully [pitching coach] Larry Rothschild can get the most out of those guys if that’s possible, and I think we’ll be OK."
You could've stopped reading after "We've tried to address it." But I included the rest of his quote for its full comedic impact because 1) Obviously nothing was done to address it, and 2) Yankees starters last year ranked in the bottom half of the league in ERA, OPS, BAA and coughed up the second-most dingers while pitching only the tenth-most innings among the league's 15 rotations.
|(Sept. 10, 2015 - Source: Rich Schultz/Getty Images North America)|
It's a good thing Brian's a better GM than he is a spin doctor. Because after reading his take on the upcoming season, it feels like there's nowhere to go but up -- but only if we're really, really lucky.