The Fun And Frustration Of Being A Yankee Fan On A Budget

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

As the Yankees continue down their path of self-imposed penny pinching, focusing on the big picture and future benefits of cutting payroll for 2014 rather than the immediate benefits of signing someone like Roy Oswalt or Hiroki Kuroda, we Yankee fans and distinguished members of the Yankee blogosphere suddenly find ourselves in some unfamiliar territory.  By now we are (or should be) used to the Yankees not always getting their man during Hot Stove season.  But to see them take a backseat approach to the offseason proceedings and not really attempt to get any man or even make other teams think that they’re trying to get their man?  That’s Dimension X-level weirdness to many, and it’s already starting to get to some of us.

Because we know the Yankees have needs.  They aren’t glaring needs, but any relatively smart Yankee fan knows that this team has needs, mainly another big-time starter.  Cash himself came out and openly admitted that to us at his year-end press conference when he name dropped improving the rotation.  Sure, bringing back CC was a great move, and Freddy provides depth, but did bringing back 40% of 2011′s rotation to join up with the remaining 60% really make the 2012 rotation any BETTER?  Probably not.  And we’ve been conditioned to expect big things when the Yankees make it known what their target areas of need are.  But this offseason we’ve seen them content to linger in the background, seemingly ignoring the very holes in their roster that Cash admitted they have while those who could conceivably fill those holes are snatched up by the competition.  This is frustrating.

The frustration, almost certainly rooted in our being conditioned to expect the Yankees to always get their guy, is understandable to a degree.  With the resources and money at their disposal, there is no reason that the Yankees couldn’t have snatched up both C.J. Wilson and Yu Darvish, continued to pursue guys through a trade, and build a brand new mega-rotation.  But the Yankees appear to have decided to re-allocate their resources, namely the ones with the $ signs, and plan for the future rather than address the present.  It’s not a familiar strategy for us as fans to see play out.  New CBA or not, the Yankees are still the biggest dog in the uncapped MLB yard, and they shouldn’t be letting the smaller, weaker dogs come up and steal their Kibble.  But that appears to be the path they’re planning to take to achieve their future goals, which means we could have to get used to this kind of offseason for the next few years.

On the positive side, in focusing so much on controlling costs and moving further away from the quick-trigger, free-wheeling spending days of the early 2000s, the Yankees are setting the stage for their latest crop of young homegrown talent to step up and establish themselves, and that should be fun to watch.  With Bernie and Andy and Jorge gone, and Jeter and Mo closer to the ends of the playing careers than their primes, the core of the most recent dynasty is almost gone.  Now we get to see who can step up and replace them, who can live up to the hype, who can fly under the radar and surprise us, and who can start to build the foundation to the next great Yankee dynasty.

Will Manny Banuelos replace Andy as the big-game lefty in the rotation?  Will Mason Williams blossom into a new generation Bernie Williams 2.0?  We don’t know.  But what we do know is that the Yankees aren’t trading all these young assets off like baseball cards to fill the holes they don’t fill through free agency anymore.  And if the Yankees aren’t going to be the big spenders on the block for the foreseeable future, and aren’t going to trade their youth for a quick fix, they are going to have to fill holes from within, which means it’s very likely that many of these guys are going to get a real shot to become the next generation of Yankee greats.

It’ll suck if the Yankees continue to be bystanders during the next few offseasons, no doubt.  But to be able to witness the potential beginning of the next generation of homegrown Yankee stars isn’t a bad trade-off.  And while offseasons might not be quite as exciting as we’re used to while the cash isn’t being thrown around, the infuse of young talent and all the possibilities that lie with it should ensure that the next few seasons are exciting.

5 thoughts on “The Fun And Frustration Of Being A Yankee Fan On A Budget

  1. DaveJ

    Couldn’t agree more. Watching the young prospects develop and hopefully blossom into stars is more exciting than chasing down risks and overpaying has-beens. Yes, we as Yankee fans are not used to this, but the upside potential (Montero, Banuelos, Betances, Williams, Sanchez, …) is going to be fun for years. Don’t trade any of these guys. Best would be to grab Kuroda or Oswalt on a 1-year deal.

  2. roadrider

    The odds are that some of these prospects will not live up to their hype but at the same time, people were probably saying the same things about Bernie, Jeter, Pettitte and even Mo before we knew what they could become. How many times was Bernie almost traded (this continued even after he reached the majors)? Mo was almost dealt at least once and the Yankees were going to acquire Felix Fermin instead of going with Jeter when Tony Fernandez got hurt (don’t remember if it was the 1995 off season or in ST 1996).

    From many of the comments in this forum there appear to be many who would be too quick, in my opinion, to sell short on even guys like Montero and Baneulos because they perceive that their ceilings are no higher than the young MLB players they might be traded for. I understand this point of view because the Yankees have current needs and their young players probably need more development time to reach their potential.

    I’ll admit that I have no idea if it’s better to trade Manny Baneulos for Gio Gonzalez than to bank on ManBan filling the void in the starting rotation or if Dellin Betances will solve his command issues and be a dominating starter. I don’t know if Jesus Montero will ever be more than a DH or a better hitter than Carlos Lee. But to assume the best about the players that could be acquired for these prospects while holding a pessimistic view about the ceiling of the prospects themselves is no less likely to lead to bad outcomes than what’s referred to as “prospect hugging”.

  3. Joe G

    Personally I have no problems with the Yankee sitting this winter out. They already have a pretty strong team to begin with. Could they use some upgrades, of course. But I haven’t seen any obvious candidates that they let slip through their fingers.

    The Yankees will spend money in the future when they find a target they like. I don’t need a new toy every year, and a payroll of $189 million should be more than enough.

    • GMC

      I completely agree. I know as Yankee fans we’ve gotten use to the team picking up somebody new every year (whether it be through FA or trades) but lets not forget this team won 97 games last year and its essentially the same roster (save for a few guys like Jones and Colon).

      At this point I feel like the team is better off just waiting for the FA class of 2012 and cashing in on somebody like a Hamels.

  4. I don’t have a problem if the Yankees suddenly want to become more efficient.

    My problem is that, as Anaheim and Texas and Toronto begin to flex their financial muscle, and as Texas, Toronto and Tampa (and to some extent, Boston), continue to out-scout and (out-develop) the Yanks, the combined loss of financial advantage and inability to match the scout/develop squads will leave the Yankees vulnerable.

    I’m all for spending less, pouring more into amateur scouting, unearthing gems in all corners of the world but, thus far, we’re merely good at it but not great at it and others are beginning to spend as much as we are.

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