There are many reasons why the Oakland Athletics continue to fail to win the World Series during Billy Beane’s tenure. One much-talked about suggestion is that the postseason is a “crapshoot”. Randomness has a bigger influence over the short 5-game/7-game formats than over a 162-game season. But there are ways to lessen this impact, especially if you have money and assets.
The Yankees are swimming in money and assets, yet they appear to want to be the A’s. Give credit where it is due, their front office has pulled off brilliant under-the-radar deals to resurrect careers in true Moneyball-style. But the Yankees are not the A’s; the Yankees are the biggest sporting franchise in the world. The Yankees are worth $4.6 billion, so why are they such cheapskates?
The Commissioner’s Trophy hasn’t adorned the cabinet in Yankee Stadium this decade, and the team haven’t had a Cy Young winner since … well, since Roger Clemens in 2001.
Even the fact that arch-rivals, the Boston Red Sox, have won the World Series in two of the last six seasons, doesn’t seem to prompt the Yankees to change tact.
For all of their home run power, this Yankees roster is not walking away with the big prize in October without a star addition at the top of the rotation. A bonafide ace to take the ball in Game 1.
Luis Severino, who they hoped would be their ace, is still out. Don’t expect to see him until August, and certainly don’t expect to see a frontline starter capable of throwing 100-plus pitches to match Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw or Max Scherzer.
Luis Severino will be re-examined on Saturday in hopes of resuming his throwing program, Brian Cashman told @MLBNetworkRadio.
Cashman said he expects Severino will need “six or more” weeks to be ready. However, he could be a 75-pitch starter or even used out of the bullpen.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) July 12, 2019
Domingo German has been an excellent replacement in the rotation during Severino’s absence, and although he has missed time on the IL himself, the 26-year-old is back. With a career-high of 123 innings and having only thrown 94 innings across all levels last season, the right-hander is on a limit this year. He cannot be relied on to go deep into October.
James Paxton’s left knee will almost certainly continue to impact his season. His ERA is a full 1½ runs higher in his starts since returning from the IL. He has many talents, but reliability to take the ball every fifth day just isn’t one of them. The left-hander has only reached 160 innings in a season once before.
Having thrown more than 3,500 innings with over 3,000 strikeouts in an illustrious career, CC Sabathia is deserving of a place in the Hall of Fame. He is less deserving of a spot in the rotation of a contender. Sabathia must be restricted to no more than a cameo role if the Yankees want to win the World Series. This is real life, not a Kevin Costner script.
Their Opening Day starter, and the presumptive Game 1 starter, Masahiro Tanaka is pitching to a 4.34 FIP and has this annoying habit of giving up home runs. Oh, and he has a dodgy elbow that is one curveball away from surgery.
It is probably best if we don’t dwell on the final member of the rotation, J.A. Happ, except to say that his 4.93 ERA flatters him.
Even though it goes against the admirable philosophy of Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner and General Manager Brian Cashman, the Yankees need to overpay for talent. You can imagine Steinbrenner Sr. turning in his grave with the lack of ambition shown by the front office. Don’t they want a parade?
Here are three deals the Yankees should do, and they CAN do them if they’re not tight-fisted.
Zack Greinke to the Yankees
The 35-year-old is probably the best starting pitcher potentially available on the trade market. This season, he is again demonstrating his ability to go deep into games, rack up strikeouts and limit walks, as he enjoys his best campaign in Arizona.
Oh, how the Yankees could do with a player of Greinke’s talents.
The lure of the postseason and a shot at a World Series ring could be the incentive needed to get Greinke to waive the Yankees from his no-trade list.
Although the Diamondbacks are firmly in the hunt for October riches, you have to think that ownership would be pleased to see the back of the contract that will cost them $64 million over the next two seasons.
Trevor Bauer to the Yankees
Had injury not derailed his 2018 season, the Indians often-controversial, occasionally brilliant starter could have won the Cy Young award. When he hit the DL, as it was then, on 11 August, he led the AL with 5.7 fWAR. Eventual Cy Young winner Blake Snell was down in 13th position on 2.6 fWAR.
Bauer is a free agent at the end of next season and has suggested that he might pimp himself out (my words not his) to whoever pays the most in a series of one-year deals. His time in Cleveland is almost at an end.
The Indians have narrowed the gap to the Twins in the AL Central and have a serious shot at the postseason. A front four of Bauer, Mike Clevinger, Shane Bieber and, if he is fit again, Corey Kluber, looks like the rotation needed to secure their first World Series win for 71 years. The window of opportunity before Francisco Lindor moves to pastures new is closing rapidly.
Unfortunately for Cleveland, they are one of the minnows of the game. Teams in the bottom six of financial clout always have to look ahead and make potentially heart-breaking deals.
The Yankees could get this deal done in a heartbeat, but it appears the penny-pinching New Yorkers are trying to emulate the Rays and Athletics of maximising every last cent.
If Cashman calls and offers up the two former Indians, Clint Frazier and Gio Urshela, Cleveland takes the deal, and the Yankees win the World Series. Simples.
Matt Boyd to the Yankees
The Tigers are rebuilding, but that doesn’t mean that they are eager to let their top starter with three more years of arbitration eligibility just walk away for a handful of mediocre prospects.
With three straight double-digit strikeout games, the 28-year-old is doing his best to entice suitors. The left-hander has made 19 starts this year with a career-best 3.47 FIP, and his strikeout rate of 12.0 SO/9 finds him keeping elite company in the top four with Gerrit Cole, Chris Sale and Max Scherzer.
Boyd has the potential to get even better and spearhead the Yankees rotation for the next few years, but young stud pitchers don’t come easily.
If the Yankees are serious about being known for winning trophies instead of just selling caps as fashion accessories, they need to get back to their old ways of acquiring the players they need to get the job done.
Send Gleyber Torres and a pitcher like Deivi Garcia to Detroit. Yeah, a few of the NYY cap-wearing faithful will moan about the overpayment, but is it an overpayment? I’m not so sure. Anyway, with DJ LeMahieu playing like a man possessed, Torres won’t be too badly missed. And with Boyd taking the ball in the playoffs, there won’t be many moans from Yankees’ fans when World Series number 28 is clinched in October.
The confidence running through the Yankees’ roster is unbounded at the moment, and they continue to score runs for fun, although, over the last 30 days, they only outscored current World Series champions, the Boston Red Sox, by two runs, so perhaps the tide is turning. Plus, the Yankees have lost five of their 11 games since returning from London.
So, in reply to the question at the top of this article “Why are the Yankees so tight?”, the answer must be that they don’t value winning the World Series has highly as Yankees teams in the past.
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