LADY AT THE BAT: Spring Training Is Underway: So Is A New Yankees Era

Monday, February 22, 2016

Spring Training Is Underway: So Is A New Yankees Era

You might have missed this little tidbit of information, but as of 2015, with the last of the Core  Four gone, the Yankees have entered a completely new era, so far unknown and uncharted. There is no real indication how this new era will pan out. Baseball itself appears to be at a crossroads. So how might we come to  grips with the changes in the Yankees and in baseball in general, and with how this current era might pan out? Spoiler alert: I really don't know, but I'll try to make some early observations.

First, let's identify the previous eras in Yankees history (since 1921):

1. 1921-1964  US Steel Era "When rooting for the Yankees was like rooting for US Steel" Peter Golenbock's Book, Dynasty covers the last segment, 1949-64.
2. 1965-1974  Horace Clarke Era Fritz Peterson recently wrote a book covering those hard times
3. 1975-1981  Steinbrenner I Free Agency Era done right
4. 1982-1991  Steinbrenner II Free Agency done very wrong
5. 1992-2003  Steinbrenner III Rebuild and new dynasty done very right (I think 1992 was a watershed year in Yankees history as far as turning a corner)
6. 2004-2014  Still the Core Four Era with a Stand alone championship, but quite different.
7 2015-  ????   ??????

Here is a bit of trivia: name the fewest Yankees (hint: there's five)  who combined to win all 27 rings (with a little overlap in 1928 and 1932)?  These five players combined have played in the previous six eras. A sixth player will need to go on the list for the next championship. which we all hope will be soon. Some new name will have to be added for number 28 and (hopefully) beyond.

The answer is:

Babe Ruth 1923-32
Bill Dickey  1929-1943
Yogi Berra  1947-1962
Thurman Munson 1977-78 (Could substitute one of Reggie Jackson, Graig Nettles, Ron Guidry, etc.)
Derek Jeter 1996-2009

Babe Ruth and Bill Dickey overlap a couple of years. But these five combined to win all 27 rings. Who indeed, will represent number 28, perhaps 29 and beyond?

So what does this new era have in store?

Some thoughts on how to keep this history rolling as I we look into the future:

1. The Steinbrenner children are not their father and they know it doesn't take a $210 million payroll to win a championship. Look for them to work with a lower payroll going forward.
2. BIG contracts come off the books in the next 2 years- Beltran, Teixeira, Sabathia and ARod. Is there room for a big contract or two? Perhaps, but expect some payroll constraints.
3. People are already talking 2018 Free Agent Class and the Yankees next big haul. Bryce Harper, anyone?
4. 2009 was a "stand alone" championship, part of the Core 4 era but not part of any dynasty. Is baseball making stand alones more likely by evening the playing field?
5. Simply put: When will the Yankees win again? The coming 2016 season could mark the seventh straight season without a championship, that is, unless the Yankees win this year.

So despite the apparent fiscal tightening of the belts, the Yankees may indeed be in on a Bryce Harper. But he won't hit free agency until after 2018, which means three seasons will have elapsed by then.

And a lot can happen in three years. 

Harper may not be the player he is projected to be in three years. Injuries could take their toll, or a single significant injury could occur. The Nationals may be able to work out an extension in the three years. How about a trade, and not to the Yankees? Harper could sign with the team that acquires his services. It seems a little too early to assume Bryce Harper will be a New York Yankee on Opening Day 2019. Then again, anything is possible.

The point is the Yankees are getting younger and more versatile by developing their own talent for their own use or to use  in trades. If the trades Brian Cashman has made in the last two years is any indication, the Yankees are certainly leaning toward young, controllable players, Aroldis Chapman being the lone recent exception. So the era just starting is in the development stages. Who or what will define the new era just started is still up for grabs. Early indications suggest the Yankees will do much of the transition to this era through player development.

One or two well placed free agent is not out of the question. It just seems ludicrous to suggest a move that is over three years away. But then, they are still the New York Yankees. We should never forget that.

As for naming this new era? Unknown. Uncharted. Wait and see.


Anonymous said...

As much as NY fans have been salivating over signing Harper since he came out of high school, one thing never gets mentioned. According to Forbes magazine's rankings, Nats owner Ted Lerner is worth about $6.8 billion dollars which dwarfs the five Steinbrenner family members by almost double. Lerner is not averse to spending money when he wants to as witnessed by Scherzer's $210 million dollar signing. If Harper stays healthy in the next 3 seasons and puts up similar numbers, it would be a huge PR problem for the Nats with their fans to let a future Hall of Famer go as he is just entering the prime of his career. He would also be an economic engine for the the Nats in the DC area region of 6 million people and they would not want to lose that fan support. I suspect Lerner (or his family if Ted is not still alive then) would do what it takes to pony up.

Bernadette Pasley said...

That's right. It's not like Harper plays for the Athletics after all.