It’s not so much that it’s “getting late early out there” as New York Yankees great, Yogi Berra once said; it’s more a case of it “getting old early” as can be used for an accurate description of the Bronx Bombers’ 2016 campaign. The Yankees are not dead in the water, nor are they in the sort of rebuild most franchises would find themselves in with an aging roster, mediocre farm system and middling results.
The Yankees are not finished long-term, but they need to be honest top to bottom in the short-term.
May will be the hardest month of the season for New York, which with any other roster may be an inspirational sign of sorts; make it through the month in shouting distance and try to make a run.
Except this team isn’t built like most former playoff teams who ran into some bad luck, like say, the Houston Astros.
This team is old in the wrong places, namingly the middle of the lineup where the runs tend to get produced from, and those old guys aren’t going to get younger, better, or healthier as the season journeys on.
So the Yankees need to look at the next six weeks or so, as we had into late June and towards the All Star break, and for the first time in 23 years, consider they have a very legitimate chance of being sellers at the deadline.
This cannot be a year where New York finds itself 12 games out of the East and eight games out of the second wildcard spot and come to the consensus the fans deserve a playoff attempt.
No, we don’t.
We deserve a perennial contender based on the prices we pay and the payroll we witness night in and night out and staying in lame duck territory with a 75-85 win team is not going to accomplish that.
So this is how the season needs to play out in two simple plans:
The Yankees get hot on the heels of a seven run outburst vs David Price despite a losing effort, have a hot month of May, stay in the thick of things, get Aroldis Chapman back for the back of the bullpen and march into October one last time with the team as we currently know it. In this scenario, the Yankees still should hold onto their prospects but try to make any moves that make sense long-term at the deadline, or else get to the postseason and see what happens with a lethal bullpen (minus Dellin Betances pitching at Fenway, apparently). New York has money coming off the books in 2017 either way and either way this team in the playoffs can be lethal.
- Things don’t improve and the team and its fans finally realize you can’t win when your three best hitters combine to 120-years-old. The front office makes one symbolic firing (preferably, pitching coach, Larry Rothschild, or any of the hitting coaches employed in the past two years) and gets down to business. Trade Brett Gardner, Andrew Miller and Carlos Beltran, all of whom will bring back varying degrees of prospects ranging from MLB caliber to blue chip and none of those players are signed long-term enough to make an impact with a perennial contender in the Bronx. Try to trade either Michael Pineda or Nathan Eovaldi, both of whom have less than three years left on their deals and are unlikely to both return to the Bronx.
Dump Chase Headley as a bad contract or at a minimum, bench him the rest of the year. Take playing time away from Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann, keeping Tex healthy for a potential one year deal or a rejected qualifying offer and draft pick and keeping the latter fresh for the final two years of his own deal. Give playing time to Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez the rest of the year (neither would be eligible for a year of arbitration by mid June) and let Aaron Hicks play in the other vacated outfield spot.
That’s it! those should be the only two options. The Yankees shouldn’t stand pat to appease a fanbase currently calling for everyone to get fired and it shouldn’t have a firesale either.
Give this team six weeks to figure out its identify and its age and make a decision.
It’s truly what everyone deserves.