Wants and Needs

It’s a wonderful thing in life when what you want and what you need are the same thing. For a long time, the wants and needs of Yankee baseball matched up. Not only did the Yankees want to win, they seemed to have a mandate to win at any cost. Now they want to win, but they want to win at a certain cost.

As Randy pointed out on Friday, the Yankees are comfortable going to a certain point with money now and not quite going beyond it. To their credit, it’s still a lot of money and it’s gotten them a good deal of success. They’ve won lots of games and made it to the ALCS in two of the last three years. The World Series, though, has alluded them when it seems like it shouldn’t have. In both 2017 and 2019, the one thing they needed most–the one thing they haven’t had in..years–was the reason: the lack of a true ace.

While the Yankees have gotten by with good starters turning in ace-level performances at times, it’s easy to argue they haven’t had a real one since CC Sabathia’s 2009-2012 run. And it’s easy to argue that the lack of such an ace has held them back in the playoffs. They’ve relied on their bullpen and while that can work, it can only get you so far if they’re gassed. If they want to win, which they say they do, they need to realize this need and they need to fill it.

At the very least, Gerrit Cole will be out there. He will command a big salary. He might even start a bidding war somewhere. While the Yankees might not want to get into a bidding war, while they may not want to go up from their offer, they need to. Is that easy to say when it’s not my money? Hell yes. But when the front office and ownership talk about winning a championship, talk about how it’s unacceptable not to reach the World Series during a decade, then they need to step up. No more half measures.

What’s a half measure? A half measure would be passing on an elite (or multiple elite) starting pitcher because getting full, healthy seasons from Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery is a reasonable approximation of ace-level performance for cheaper. A half measure would be trading Clint Frazier for some good-not-great starter and calling it a day on the pitching market. A half measure would be waiting until mid-season and doing that same trade, or passing altogether because Deivi Garcia is on the way. Those are not acceptable for a team looking to win a championship. No. More. Half. Measures.

It’s hard to quibble with how good the Yankees have been recently and not sound like a petulant, spoiled, stereotypical Yankees fan. But the Yankees are a different animal. They spend more, they make more, and we expect more. And after a frustrating, semi-early exit from the playoffs, we want more and so should they. We need more and so do they.

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7 Comments

  1. I think we can drop the “it’s easy for me, it’s not my money” disclaimer in this case. The Yankees put the lowest percentage, by far, of their revenue back into the team. A team owner has an expectation and an obligation to put a certain percentage of the revenue back into the team, Hal is not meeting that expectation or obligation. Wanting Hal to spend more is not a case of selfishly wanting to take money out of Hal’s pocket, it’s a case of expecting Hal to be at least as committed to re-investing in the team as the average team owner.

  2. RetroRob

    There are basically three ways for teams to acquire talent: development, trades and free agency. That foundation is the three-legged chair all teams sit on, although different teams put different weight on different legs. They use all of them, although lower-revenue teams generally shop for more distressed assets in free agency or trades. Point is, they all use all of them.

    The Yankees have the ability to shop at the high end in all these markets, be it spending a ton of development, trading for more costly assets, or bidding for the top free agents. It doesn’t mean they should be blowing out the budget, but when a true ace hits the market, one still in his 20s, they should be playing. Cole is the best pitcher to hit free agency since Max Scherzer. I understood why they passed on Scherzer at that time since they were going through their own version of a rebuild, and they wanted to reset the salary cap tax rate in essence to allow them to go back to big-game hunting in free agency when appropriate.

    The Yankees have won 10 AL pennants and seven world championships since the dawn of free agency. It’s a game they can play better than any other team and they have benefited the most from it. Hopefully they will again this winter.

  3. This is ridiculous-when (other than 2009) when the Yankees have ever won a World Series by spending? Fat George tried it year after year after year in the 80’s and it got them nothing.

    At the same time it’s pretty obvious that the Yankees are one top starting pitcher away from likely winning it all-I would back a Brink’s truck up to sign Cole but that doesn’t mean you spend tons of money on every ‘shiny toy’ out there every year.

  4. Doug `Hudgins

    Well, we offered (a pencil sharpener and 2 lbs. of coffee) but we were outbid. I trust the process and I can sleep at night.
    At some point, you either reach the zenith or you don’t – that point has come – no more half measures indeed !

  5. The Original Drew

    Cashman keeps talking about ”the process” and yes it’s seems to help them remain consistently competitive throughout the years. But if the end result of the process is constantly passing up and missing out on elite talent, it’s a broken process. Something needs to change immediately.

  6. Scully

    Expecting greatness isn’t petulant (provided it comes with personal action and perhaps even radical empathy), it’s confidence and ambition.

  7. “But the Yankees are a different animal. They spend more, they make more, and we expect more.” Which explains why many of their fans are petulant and spoiled.

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