When Hal Steinbrenner inherited control of the Yankees after his father died, he was on cruise control. He did not have to make decisions or do much work. All he had to do was let Yankees general manager Brian Cashman do his job.
The son of George thought this would be easy for him. He was wrong.
The Yankees started to miss the playoffs in recent years. This is likely going to be the third time in four years they will miss the playoffs. They haven’t won a playoff series since 2012. They haven’t won a championship since 2009, which constitutes a seven-year title drought.
With the Yankees likely playing themselves out of contention, it was time for Steinbrenner to change his paradigm of building a baseball team. He either could go for it or he can start the rebuilding process.
His general manager knew it was time to start building the team with young players. He wanted the Yankees to keep competing and not give up on the season.
With the Yankees losing the first two games to the Rays this past weekend, Steinbrenner finally let his general manager do his job. It was his moment as Yankees owner.
The Yankees basically gave up on the season by trading Andrew Miller to the Indians for Clint Frazier (top-rated prospect in the Indians farm system), Justus Sheffield, Ben Heller and J.P Feyereisen. This comes after they traded Aroldis Chapman for Adam Warren, Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford last week.
It was a prudent thing to do. The Yankees were boring, unlikeable and irrelevant. Fans were fed up with watching bunch of mercenaries playing for the Bronx Bombers and doing nothing. It has showed in empty seats at Yankee Stadium and low TV ratings on the YES Network.
The Yankees fans wanted to see the Yankees be like the Mets, which is building around homegrown players. They found religion after watching the Mets in the World Series last year.
The Yankees weren’t winning championships any time soon. Not with this team being old and broken. What this team needed was more athleticism and youth. That was the purpose of the trades.
Whether the Yankees concede or not, it’s irrelevant. It was about thinking of the big picture. It was about building for a better tomorrow. It was about building a championship team all over again.
The Yankees have been committed to youth going back to last year when they did not trade Luis Severino, Aaron Judge, Greg Bird or Gary Sanchez for Cole Hamels or David Price. It was a move that was criticized in this site, but looking back now, it makes sense to go to that route.
It was past time to build around young players. Baseball has changed. It is not about winning with old guys anymore. The sport is now a young man’s game. The more youth, the better the team will be.
It was something Cashman realized for couple of years. It took the son of George awhile to realize it.
This couldn’t have been easy for Hal Steinbrenner. He is not known for conceding. It’s not in his DNA like his father. He wanted to make his father proud by having his team fighting until the bitter end.
Technically, the Yankees are not out of it. They are seven games out of first place in the AL East, and they are five and a half games out of a wild-card race.
But that’s semantics and nothing more. The Yankees don’t pass the eye test. They can’t hit, and their starters can’t pitch outside of Masahiro Tanaka. That’s not a playoff team.
Even if the Yankees make the playoffs, it means nothing. It’s about winning a championship. This is not a championship team.
The Yankees made the playoffs last year, and their wild-card playoff game lasted three hours and four minutes. Astros southpaw ace Dallas Keuchel shut them down in the Yankees’ 3-0 uninspiring loss to the Astros at Yankee Stadium.
Barely, anyone remembered the Yankees made the playoffs last year since their performance was so bad. Making the playoffs does not do much for a proud franchise like the Yankees. This isn’t a small-market team where a playoff appearance is enough.
The Yankees need to build a championship team, and their best route is to build with youth.
The Yankees accomplished that objective in the last week.
Now, they need to develop these guys into good players. They haven’t been good in that in a long time. It remains to be seen, but that’s another topic to talk about for another time.
Today is the day for Hal Steinbrenner to receive hosannas for making a move that was long overdue.
It was past time to rebuild.
It’s a whole new world for the Yankees, but it can be exciting.
Let the process begin.