Monday, December 15, 2014

Most Popular Article of the Week: The Yankees' Offseason So Far

The most popular article of the week comes from Bryan Van Dusen as he shares his thoughts on the Yankees offseason so far. Enjoy.

So far this offseason is like riding a roller coaster.

First there was the signing of Chris Young to be the team's fourth outfielder. I wasn't worked up one way or another by this signing, as it's just a bench player. However, I'd rather see that spot given to a youngster, since Young is hardly somebody that's going to be a difference maker. Speaking of which, I'm not fooled by his time with the team last season, as that type of output is way above what he's done in his nine year MLB career.

That signing was followed up by the signing of left-handed pitcher Jose De Paula. If I didn't care a whole lot about the signing of Chris Young, this acquisition certainly wasn't going to get me hot and bothered. My initial thought was that De Paula was going to be a 2nd lefty in the bullpen until Jacob Lindgren is brought up.

Finally came some fairly big news, as the Yankees traded Shane Greene to the Arizona Diamondbacks for shortstop Didi Gregorius. I was really happy with this move. Sure, it stunk seeing Shane Greene shipped off, but the deal made a ton of sense for a team in dire need of a shortstop to replace the retired Derek Jeter. Don't get me wrong, I don't believe Didi will be a star. However, the Yankees made a nice move to get younger and gear up for the future, rather than just shell out big money for somebody like Hanley Ramirez, or settle on a so-so veteran like Stephen Drew.

My smile got a little wider when I learned that we had signed Andrew Miller, a 29-year-old lefty reliever. Here we have a guy that's struck out 13.6 batters per 9 innings over the past three years, and should be an incredible compliment to Dellin Betances, a right-hander that stuck out 13.5 guys per 9 innings last season. Of course, I assumed the Yankees would bring back David Robertson to be their closer, and complete a vicious three-headed monster in the bullpen.

I understand that the Yankees have been able to build a strong bullpen year in and year out, so there's really no need to spend a lot of money on relievers. But why spend $36 million on Andrew Miller only to let David Robertson, a better reliever, sign elsewhere for just a couple million more dollars per season (Miller and Robertson both signed four year deals)? If they had only planned on signing one of them from the start, why not spend a few more dollars to get the better of the two? If Andrew were two years younger than David I could make sense of it, but Miller isn't even two months younger than Robertson.

Not surprisingly, my reaction was tame next to some of the hate spewed out towards the Yankees and Brian Cashman. But unlike some fans, who continue to be pessimistic about the teams chances to win in 2015 and beyond, I'm actually liking the way things are going.

The fact of the matter is the Yankees are getting younger, and they appear to be looking to the future.

Currently, the Yankees have young players like the aforementioned Didi Gregorius (25 years old, and under team control through 2018), Masahiro Tanaka (26, signed through at least 2017), Michael Pineda (25, under team control through 2017), Ivan Nova (27, under team control through 2016), Dellin Betances (26, under team control through 2019), Rob Refsnyder (23, under team control through at least 2021), Jose Pirela (25, under team control through at least 2021). And then there are other minor leaguers who could make an impact in MLB fairly soon, like Manny Banuelos, Jacob Lindgren, Luis Severino, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Ian Clarkin, and Greg Bird.

I'm absolutely not saying that the team shouldn't look at some of the bigger names in free agency, either now or in the future. But by building a solid base of younger, cost-controlled, players the team can afford to give a big contract to a stud player without suffering due to it should an injury occur. So sprinkle in a guy like Max Scherzer this season, who could turn a good rotation into a great one. Or possibly sign Justin Upton a year from now, once he becomes a free agent.

What the Yankees should never do again is sign aging stars to big contracts like we saw in the mid-2000s. The Yankees signed 39 year old Kevin Brown in 2004, and paid him over $31 million for two years and barely over 200 innings of work. Then there was Randy Johnson, who got nearly $32 million for his age 41 and 42 seasons, and was an average pitcher despite winning 34 games. And who could forget the Yankees giving 44 year old Roger Clemens $17.4 million in 2007, and seeing average output along with the worst strikeout rate of his career?

The bottom line is that this isn't George Steinbrenner's Yankees, and while I certainly miss The Boss, I'm perfectly okay with that. No longer should we see knee-jerk reactions to poor play, or reactionary signings to what teams like the Red Sox do. Perhaps Cashman and the team will sometimes over-think things, and therefore miss out on players that would otherwise be good for them, but that's better than throwing out huge money to guys that just happen to be at the top of some experts top free agent rankings.

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