Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Evil Empire (New York Yankees)

I know there are  more important things going on in the world, but this whole deal with the major league baseball trade deadline is getting ridiculous.

The Yankees made headlines this weekend for doing something very unusual for them...nothing. The Yankees made absolutely no deals as the deadline for trading players came and went. Almost every other team in contention across the majors made some kind of move. The Yankees stood pat with what they had. And the sports "journalists" went nuts. How could the Yankees possibly be content with their current roster? How can they possibly think that their starting rotation, the way it is, will carry them through to a championship? Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon can't possibly continue pitching like this. And on and on and on.

Forgive me if I'm remembering this incorrectly - my nearly 40-year-old brain is not always what it used to be - but I seem to recall the Yankees being branded the "Evil Empire" (by a Red Sox executive, of all people), because they always just go out and buy up whatever players they need. I seem to recall that this has been the chief gripe that fans and writers alike, across the country, have put forth for the past 15 years of NYY dominance. The Yankees have an unfair advantage. They have so much money - of course they win every year. They buy all their championships. First of all, that's been hogwash from the beginning. Show me another team that features three homegrown players who have played together for 16 years straight. Show me another team with yet a fourth homegrown player who played nearly all of those seasons with the other three. Show me another team with still a fifth homegrown player whose career overlapped some of the tenure of the other four. The Yankees got where they are today with the core of Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, and Bernie Williams. And today, they continue on with Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner, and the like. Yes, they have made many significant free agent acquisitions and blockbuster trades during their championship run. That's baseball, folks. Every team does it. The Yankees are just better at it.

So now that Brian Cashman decides that his homegrown prospects are too valuable to trade for the players who were available, he's getting flack from all ends. Do we know if Garcia and Colon will hold up? No. Do we know which AJ Burnett will show up the rest of the way? No. Do we know if Phil Hughes will be able to recover from his unexplainable velocity and command issues? No. But the fact is, the Yankees have six starting pitchers who all, at one time or another, have been dominant. Is this really a problem? If they make deals, then they're buying championships. If they insist on developing their prospects, then they're doing a disservice to their fans by not fortifying the team for a World Series run. Can someone please explain what exactly it is that they're supposed to do? I, for one, am content with watching how this one plays out, and am looking forward to seeing how the new crop of stars pans out over the next couple of years.