Wouldn’t be something if the Yankees ended up back in the playoffs?
One of the first things that’s obvious about these new Yankees is that GM Brian Cashman was considering more than talent. He wanted guys willing to accept whatever role Joe Girardi would ask of them. He wanted guys highly regarded around the game, with reputations for working hard and caring about the right things.
I’m going to pause right here and allow Yankee fans to roll their eyes and mutter things I wouldn’t even think of repeating in a nice family-friendly forum like this one. They simply do not care if Yankees help old ladies across the street or work in soup kitchens. The Yankees are about one thing, and that one thing is winning, and that’s why we love ’em.
In the end, it comes down to talent. Yes, teamwork and all that stuff is important. Regardless of what happens before or after games, winning is about having a bunch of guys committed to one thing and having the talent to make that one thing happen. That’s the thing we don’t know about Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner and these other new Yankees.
We just don’t know if they’re still capable of playing at a high level. But with the Yankees already hit hard by free-agent departures and with Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter all on the disabled list, Cashman has been in a scramble mode for a couple of weeks.
Since last season ended, he acquired four players who are likely to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first (Lyle Overbay), DH (Travis Hafner), left field (Vernon Wells) and third base (Kevin Youkilis). He also re-signed Ichiro Suzuki and grabbed Ben Francisco and Brennan Boesch off the street.
It’s impossible to know if any of them can still play, but Cashman has hit it big in recent years with the acquisitions of Raul Ibanez, Eric Chavez, Andruw Jones, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia and Ichiro. He clearly has become convinced through the years that a good work ethic and a high degree of professionalism are important. If you take guys who know the game and work hard and you put them around others like them, there’s a better chance of something good happening.
It’ll be fascinating to see how it plays out. Maybe all the guys he acquired—Hafner, Youkilis, Overbay, Wells, etc.—have more yesterdays than tomorrow, but they were all terrific players at one time. The Yankees are going to find out if putting them in pinstripes and putting them behind that pitching staff will be enough to overcome a lot of things.
Is anyone picking the Yankees? Of course not. Don’t be silly. On the other hand, it’s amazing how virtually no one is counting them out. They’ve won too much for that. Also, Granderson and others should be back from the Disabled List at some point. And the Yankees will have the resources—and possibly the Minor League talent depending on how the first half of the season goes—to make a deal.
They’re almost always the center of the baseball universe, and in a strange way, that’s true even now. Maybe it’ll all collapse, and they’ll finish last. On paper, that’s pretty much what it says should happen. On the other hand, maybe those old guys will be energized by their surroundings and put together one final run. After all the Yankees have accomplished through the years, it would be one of the sweetest and most improbable seasons imaginable.