Saturday, December 12, 2015

The 1996 Team All Over Again 20 Years Later

The 1996 New York Yankees team was a team of destiny and a team that sparked a dynasty. That 1996 squad was extremely special and never laid down and died or let another team beat them down without knowing that they were in a fight. The 1996 team was fresh off a devastating loss in the Wild Card Round the year prior that marked the first time in quite a few years the team made the postseason. The 2015 version of the Yankees also broke a streak of non-playoff seasons, although it was just a two-year absence, and also lost in the Wild Card Round. The similarities do not stop there.

That team did not spend heavily on the free agent market the offseason before but the team did make the smart signings or trades, something Brian Cashman is currently trying to do. The 1996 squad went into the season with David Cone as their biggest free agent signing followed by a reclamation project in Dwight Gooden and a young gun named Andy Pettitte anchoring the rotation. New York doesn’t have a huge free agent signing this winter as of yet but Luis Severino could be the next Andy Pettitte to take the rotation, and the league, by storm. Mariano Duncan was also signed by the Yankees that winter and while, again, not a huge pickup it was a smart pickup. Duncan’s defense and ability to play small ball played into the hands of the Yankees and Joe Torre perfectly that season. Could that be Starlin Castro?

The Yankees were very active in the trade market that offseason as well pulling off a major trade and a minor notable trade. The major trade saw Russ Davis and Sterling Hitchcock head to Seattle for reliever Jeff Nelson, first baseman Tino Martinez and Jim Mecir. The minor trade was a player to be named later trade that brought Tim “Rock” Raines to the Bronx. New York may already have their minor trade of the offseason, Aaron Hicks for John Ryan Murphy, but the major trade is yet to come.

The final and most glaring similarity is a rookie and the lack of confidence from upper management in the middle infield. In 1996 it was Derek Jeter who George Steinbrenner didn’t think was ready for the show, especially defensively, while it’s Hal and Brian Cashman who lack the confidence in Robert Refsnyder heading into 2016. The stars are aligning, give the kid a shot.

I am in no way comparing the two teams, that 1996 team was built to win for a long time prior to that season, but the similarities are too glaring to ignore.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)