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.