LADY AT THE BAT: Yankees Won't Match 1966 Season, But Selling Might Continue

Friday, August 5, 2016

Yankees Won't Match 1966 Season, But Selling Might Continue

Some might remember former Yankees broadcaster Red Barber, the Old Redhead, bringing you baseball with his famous "Catbird Seat" saying. During a live telecast, Red had the audacity to ask to have cameras pan the rows and rows of empty seats at Yankee Stadium for a game against the White Sox. The paid attendance that day, September 22, 1966 was 413, as in four HUNDRED thirteen, and the Yankees were on their way to a last place finish, their first since 1912, For his efforts, Barber was fired at the end of the season.

It's fifty years later and though the Yankees do not appear to be headed for a last place finish, there are some things management/ownership simply cannot bring themselves to admit, among them that the Yankees were "sellers" at the trade deadline. Brian Cashman said he would bring trade proposals to ownership and, one by one the trades were approved, because they were the "right thing to do."

Because the Yankees were still contenders for a playoff spot.

Right, and Alex Rodriguez will be comeback player of the year. The Barber story fifty years ago reminds me that the thinking of ownership in some ways hasn't changed much. Don't say anything that will hurt ticket sales, Don't wave the white flag, at least not in public Spin it all, every which way.

Earlier this season, I speculated about what ownership might like and dislike about this year's Yankees, Seemed obvious there was plenty more to dislike than like. But all we heard from ownership with Randy Levine leading the way, was that the Yankees were expected to play good baseball starting, well, any day now. We can now reasonably say, that in reality, the Yankees internal discussions were about selling for much of the season, despite various denials and posturing.

So what did the Yankees actually do and where might they go from here?

Here's what they have recently done:

1. Made trades they had to make
Players with contracts expiring, Aroldis Chapman. Carlos Beltran and Ivan Nova, were dealt for several young prospects, Adam Warren and two players to be named later. Though speculation has it that the Yankees might re-sign either of Chapman or Beltran or both after the season, it seems the Yankees were maximizing their value right then and there.  

2.Made a trade they didn't have to make
And if you want any more proof the Yankees were sellers at the deadline, the Andrew Miller trade should do it. Cleveland surrendered four prospects including the much heralded Clint Frazier, their number one prospect. Although a separate transaction, the Yankees, at the same time picked up reliever Tyler Clippard, apparently to appease ownership, as they did when Adam Warren was in the Chapman deal with the Cubs. Miller had two additional years on his very manageable contract to be the Yankees closer, and ownership agreed to the trade anyway. What we have on our hands, Yankees Universe, is a full scale restart.

3. But they couldn't bring themselves to release Alex Rodriguez
I'm thinking A-Rod makes it to at least spring training now. The Yankees are effectively carrying 24 players through August with A-Rod on the bench most of the time. Releasing him should have already happened if it was going to be done. After September 1st when rosters expand there is no reason to part ways with A-Rod. At last count there are 37 players on the 40 man roster (38 when Bryan Mitchell comes off the 60 day DL, which could be soon), so there is no roster crunch. Also, the 40 man  roster is sprinkled with DFA candidates if the Yankees want to add more than two players not on the current 40 man roster.

4. Vote of confidence for Cashman and Joe Girardi
In case you missed it, somewhere along the line, Hal Steinbrenner said the housecleaning would not involve the manager or GM. Each of their contracts will expire after the 2017 season, so stay tuned.  

Thinking ahead, What they might do:

1. Be buyers at the Winter Meetings?
And why not be buyers? This might be part of the grand plan and it may be why ownership agreed to the massive sell off. Maybe Cashman has promised to actively seek major league ready talent at the Winter Meetings, using his glut of outfielders and shortstops as bait. Okay with me, as long as no long term contracts or older, aged thirty something players are the result.  

2. Free agent frenzy after 2018?
Some think this is also part of the master plan, to build a deep and talented farm system, then top it off by selecting from a bumper crop of free agents expected after 2018. Of course, there are several flaws with that thinking, not the least of which is a lot can happen in two years, such as  injuries, trades and players signing long term deals with their existing teams. This is a hot topic all around Yankees social media, so it deserves a little mention. Mention, yes, with a heavy does of skepticism while we're at it, but what do I know?

3. We shouldn't forget waiver deals this month, either
The biggest rumor remains dealing Brian McCann, possibly to Atlanta, McCann would have to waive his full no trade clause, so a trade seems unlikely. But every Yankee is being placed on revocable waivers right about now, and any number of players will pass through unclaimed, meaning they are ripe for trading. Don't expect any major trades, but the process could get very interesting.
Since the sell off that ended this past Monday, the Yankees split the four games played against the Mets, between two stadiums. Again. it seems the Yankees always gravitate back toward that .500 mark, but not much better.

Thursday's game was another feeble effort on the part of the Yankees, which seems to occur about once in every series. One bad inning for the Yankees starter, this time Nathan Eovaldi,and a poor RISP performance with little or no power. Yanks had nine hits, with rookie Gary Sanchez doubling for the Yankees' only extra base hit. The Yanks were 1-8 with runners in scoring position.

Rumor has it the Yankees want to promote Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge sooner than later. They would have to clear some 25 man roster space if the promotions happen before September 1st. Since there is no apparent plan to release either Mark Teixeira or Rodriguez, then the only other option is to clear roster space through trades of players who have cleared waivers. Brett Gardner or Aaron Hicks, perhaps? Who might be available is anybody's guess at this point.

Seems like the sell off isn't quite over, yet.

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