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The New York Yankees are one of the most storied franchises in professional sports history. The Yankees have 27 World Series championships to their credit, the most in baseball history. However, the Yankees have not appeared or won a World Series since 2009. This is a 12 year drought that is heading into their 13th season. The Yankees closed out the decade of the 2010s without one World Series championship, their first decade without a ring since the 1910s. The fans are starving, but it looks like the ownership and management are ok with passing blame everywhere but themselves. I will tell you why this team has failed New York fans for the past 12+ years.
The Yankees are in a clear drought as we have watched our hated rivals, the Boston Red Sox, out pace us since the infamous 2004 collapse. But GM Brian Cashman feels it’s unfair to say that the Yankees are in a drought. According to Cashman’s interview on The Athletic, “The only thing that stopped [the 2017 Yankees] was something that was so illegal and horrific," Cashman told The Athletic. "So I get offended when I start hearing we haven't been to the World Series since '09. Because I'm like, 'Well, I think we actually did it the right way.' Pulled it down, brought it back up. Drafted well, traded well, developed well, signed well. The only thing that derailed us was a cheating circumstance that threw us off.”
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It’s complete nonsense and it’s easy to blame others for our shortcomings. That “cheating” scandal happened 5 years ago, what about since then? It is also a delusional statement to conclude that the Yankees have drafted, traded and signed well since 2009. I’ve gone back into my way back machine and have pulled a list of mistakes that have nothing to do with the Houston Astros.
I don’t want to hear our GM blaming the 2017 Houston Astros as the reason for our failure. Yes, the cheating scandal around the trash can was awful. But the trash can was used to help the Astros hit, the Yankees lost that series because they couldn't hit in the last few games. And was it a guarantee that the Yankees could have beaten the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 7-game series? It looks like The Yankees are whining, crying and making excuses. Cashman is better than that and he has to look to himself for why he has failed. Not to mention, the Yankees have the 2017 Apple Watch Gate scandal that is dripping red on our ledger. MLB keeps sweeping this scandal under the rug and not having the details of the investigation into the scandal disclosed. Why you ask, because the Yankees can be as guilty as the rest of them.
Since the 2009 World Series the Yankees were first relying on veteran talent to help lead them. Bringing in guys like Chase Headley, Kevin Youkilis, JA Happ, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and more to help keep the Yankees afloat. Gone were the days of bringing up a “Core 4” like Derek Jeter, or cultivating young talent like Robinson Cano. The Yankees had young talent by 2017 but let's be fair about where that talent came from. The “Baby Bombers” consisted originally of two guys; Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin. Tyler Austin is no longer on the Yankees, but Aaron Judge it's easily one of the top 10 players in the league (when healthy). Gary Sanchez was another Baby Bomber that was drafted and brought through the ranks. But now after two lackluster seasons, he's off to the Minnesota Twins. Miguel Andujar was a rookie of the year candidate as he took over for Headley at third base. His bat was undeniable and the Yankees couldn't keep him out of the lineup. But now the Yankees can't find a suitor to take him in a trade.
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Gleyber Torres was a rising star at second base, but he isn't a homegrown Yankee talent. Torres, Justus Sheffield, Clint Frazier and more were products of trading off older veteran pieces in 2015 to 2016 as the Yankees went through a mini rebuild. Cashman in his article led us to believe that the Yankees have drafted well and brought up young talent. While the opposite is true that they've only drafted one player that's panned out, that being Aaron Judge, and the rest of the talent were acquired through trades.
What makes matters worse is the fact that the Yankees haven’t developed younger players. Gary Sanchez was an electric hitter his rookie year but now he's Minnesota's problem. Torres had an awful 2021 season, his first year at shortstop full time. Torres struggled in the field with errors and his power numbers diminished. The Yankees hope to resurrect him at second base. Clint Frazier couldn't see the lineup as much and break through and the outfield, injuries and an undisclosed concussion sees him off to the Chicago Cubs. Frazier decided not to inform the Yankees that he was suffering from concussion-like symptoms, and he experienced vertigo soon after.
But the deals that the Yankees made via trade just haven't worked out. Sheffield was dealt away for pitcher James Paxson, a picture that typical New York didn't work out, and we never even saw his full potential. Paxton had one shining moment in the playoffs but for the most part was a disappointment. Injuries and inconsistency led him not to come back. Sonny Gray was a promising picture for Oakland when the Yankees dealt for him. But Gray could never recapture his magic from Oakland and the Yankees traded him away to the Reds. In a twist of fate after Gray left he found his mojo in Cincinnati and made the All-Star team. The aforementioned Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury turned out to be a complete disaster for the Yankees. Two positions of need in the outfield and catcher, and were players that could have come in and contributed right away. But injuries, inconsistencies and younger talent push them out the door. The big drama of the time was not paying Robinson Cano top dollar and watching him go to the Seattle Mariners, only to spend that money on Jacoby Ellsbury. You can see how that turned out. The biggest trade in recent memory was Giancarlo Stanton. While he's had his moments in pinstripes, injuries is the only reason we haven't seen a return on this investment. The jury is still out on this trade, but it could be headed the same way.
The lack of spending to compete with other high income teams has been a recent trend that has bothered Yankee fans. The Yankees are used to spending top dollar for their talent. It's a catch-22 as the Yankees have spent in the past, but the return on investment has been lacking. The Yankees spent a lot of money on Ellsbury instead of giving it to Cano. The Yankees have gotten some talent in free agency like Gerrit Cole, Aroldis Chapman and DJ LeMahieu. But now the Yankees coming off of one of the deepest free agency classes in recent memory decided to sign no one of significance. Yes they brought back Anthony Rizzo on a two-year deal, but after that the next signing was Tim Locastro. The Yankees had gaping holes at first base, catcher and shortstop that were eventually addressed in an underwhelming trade for Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa. One of the days of George Steinbrenner, when spending was a means to an end.
The Yankees are banking on a lot of what ifs for this upcoming season. If everything breaks right the Yankees are a 90+ win ball club. But what bothers me the most is that Brian Cashman is trying to justify 12 plus years of futility. Most teams will be happy to make the playoffs in all but one of those seasons. But we're not most teams, we're the Yankees. To stop making excuses, blaming other teams, and cheating scandals. Time to start cultivating young talent, winning big games and justify ticket prices. No one wants to pay $20 for a beer but hear the general manager say, "Oh we almost won if it wasn't for something else." No more excuses, just go win.