They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same action over and over while expecting different results. If that is the case, then does that make the New York Yankees insane? When you look at MLB front offices, including owners and executives, and how they generally operate, then how could one argue that the Yankees are not baseball’s version of insanity?
For decades now, every team goes into the offseason knowing that they will not be able to dig quite as deep as the Yankees when it comes to spending money on the top free agents on the market. Sure, you will occasionally encounter a team such as the Los Angeles Dodgers or Boston red Sox or Philadelphia Phillies, who will decide that they are willing to match the Yankees dollar for dollar when overspending on players. It is inevitable. Even the Yankees can’t be the Yankees every year, right?
Yet still, it continues to take place. The Yankees remain the most successful franchise in the history of professional baseball. They have far more World Series championships than any other MLB team, and it isn’t even close. They are the most valuable franchise, and once again came in first in a poll that surveyed the nation to reveal which franchise is still America’s team. If we want to delve further into this survey, the Yankees are the most recognizable team on the planet.
Like it or not, it’s true. It will take a lot for this to ever change.
But on the flip side, the Yankees are currently nowhere near close to competing for Wold Series title No. 28. Despite the fact that they have the second highest payroll this season (behind only the Dodgers), the Yankees are not expected to compete for even a Wild Card berth. At least, not by anyone who is realistic about this current roster.
The Yankees are stuck in a stagnant pattern. They have a terrible farm system. Countless “can’t-miss” prospects have failed to deliver, meaning the team either refused to trade them for proven players during the short time where they could have fetched a decent return, or simply watched them falter at a low level in the minor leagues. That means that the only way the Yankees can improve is through free agency and trades. The problem is, most of the recent free agent contracts have been downright awful, while the only way the Bronx Bombers can make a trade is to acquire another bad contract from a team looking to rid themselves of a player no longer worth the amount they were once willing to pay them. It is very difficult to pull off a blockbuster trade for an elite player without enough top prospects to gauge a team’s interests.
We don’t have to talk about Alex Rodriguez. We don’t have to talk about Mark Teixeira. We don’t even have to talk about C.C. Sabathia. Most of those contracts were signed seven or eight years ago. Hey, it happens. Although, some of those players were key to the 2009 World Series championship captured by the Yankees. A.J. Burnett was also part of that team, and he was another bad signing in terms of the deal.
How about we discuss much more recent signings by the Yankees? Is the Masahiro Tanaka contract going to be a good one over the next six years? What about the deal signed by Jacoby Ellsbury through 2022? Or Brian McCann’s contract that runs through 2020? Are any of these good deals for the Yankees?
No, no and no.
They say that in order to evolve, one must either adapt or die. The Yankees will never die, but will they ever be smart enough to adapt?
Brian Cashman often receives a lot of credit. And while there have been times when I have felt that it is deserved, more often than not I see Cashman as nothing more than a kid with a big checkbook. Going out and tossing around more money than any other team is willing to offer does not make for a good signing. Bringing in a player who is a great fit on your team makes for a great signing.
The San Francisco Giants have not had the highest payroll, yet they have won three World Series titles over the past five seasons. The Kansas City Royals reached the Fall Classic last season, and had nowhere near the highest payroll even within their own division. They thrived on young players and fiscally responsible acquisitions.
The Yankees may be best served to start over. Tear the whole empire down. It is often said that something cannot be fixed until one realizes it is broken. Well, in baseball terms, the Yankees are broken. It is time for them to be fixed.