Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Change is Coming

We were again reminded last night that having the highest payroll in the league will buy your team into the postseason, but it won’t buy a World Series Championship. Now that a fifth straight New York Yankees season has ended without the World Series title that is the organization's lone goal, things are going to get very interesting. There's one thing we can count on – Change is Coming.

In reality, the Angels were a better team than the Yankees and deserved to win the series. But I remember once upon a time when the Yankees would beat teams that were better than them just because they were the New York Yankees. Nowadays though, the Yanks can’t get themselves that World Series trophy that Owner George Steinbrenner wants so badly – and it might cost many people their jobs.

When the fans at Yankee Stadium serenaded long-time Yankee Bernie Williams with the chants of “Ber-nie Will-iams!” at the end of Game 4 they knew it would probably be the last time they would be able to cheer for the Yankee who’s been with the team since 1991. But there were no chants for General Manager Brian Cashman or Manager Joe Torre. They could’ve used them, because it wouldn’t surprise many if both are looking for other employment in the coming weeks. Cashman doesn’t have a contract next year and the openings in Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay must seem very inviting. Cashman grew up in Maryland in close proximity to both Baltimore and Washington, DC. As good of a job as I think Cashman has done in many regards, it’s very likely that he’ll be just one of Steinbrenner’s fall-guys. But even if he does get an offer from New York, it's also very possible that Cashman might decide on his own to leave for one of the previously mentioned opportunities.

Then we look at the Joe Torre situation. The Yankee Manager has two years and $13.1 million left on the three-year contract extension Steinbrenner gave him in spring training 2004. After another season of disappointment many believe that Torre might be fired before Thanksgiving. Lou Piniella, a Steinbrenner favorite, might be brought back to the Bronx to steer the ship next season. In all ten seasons that Torre managed the Yanks he took them to the playoffs. In four of his first five seasons they celebrated World Series Championships – but in the last five years, they’ve only made it to the Series twice and both times they lost. If there was a time for the firing of Torre – it would be now.

The Yankees have a ton of questions as far as player personnel goes too. Along with what to do about Bernie there are questions about whether or not to resign Tom Gordon and Tanyon Sturtze and where they can trade Tony Womack.

There is also a steady buzz going around that Hideki Matsui is interested in possibly signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers or the San Francisco Giants to be on the West Coast, closer to Japan. Losing Matsui could be huge and possibly catastrophic for the Yankee lineup. Many, including me, believe that he’s been the most clutch player in their lineup the last three seasons.

Another longtime Yankee might also be on the way out. Catcher Jorge Posada is 34-years old and has caught a lot of games for the Yankees, but might be trade bait this offseason. Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of Posada – but I would think the Yankees could get some good players for him. Of course, like most Yankee players he’s overpaid – so it wouldn’t shock me if the Yankees had to eat some of his contract.

The pitching staff is in shambles. The ‘Shawn Chacon-Aaron Small Run’ isn’t going to carry them into the postseason again in 2006. Chacon might be the team’s fifth starter, but Small will probably be a reliever. That leaves the team with two older pitchers that are both getting paid way too much, Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina and two veteran pitchers who are both coming off of injuries, Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright. Funny thing is both Pavano and Wright are getting paid way too much too.

As long as the Yankees have Mariano Rivera healthy and closing games and Captain Derek Jeter commanding the team as their shortstop the Yankees will be good – especially in the AL East. But this team is getting older and older. They need a solid Centerfielder and they need some serious help in terms of pitching. Who will manage is still up in the air. I’m going to enjoy watching the offseason buzz and signings and we all know that Steinbrenner won’t sit back without slamming the hammer down on people after this lost season.

The Field Level seats at Yankee Stadium might be empty for the next few weeks, but they’ll surely be a lot of chatter coming from the owner’s box.


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At 10/11/2005 3:46 PM, Anonymous Bird said...

Who is this anonymous queef?? You CANNOT fire a manager that gets to the postseason every year. If Torre gets canned, baseball should ban "the Boss"... for a second time. Brian Cashman should go work with his twin brother: Jeff Van Gundy. Giambi is the Yankees best hitter.

At 10/12/2005 12:42 AM, Blogger Balto17 said...

The Yankees are the scurge of baseball, and nothing would have made me happier than to see him miss the playoffs entirely. But, that dream went unfulfilled, so I guess I'll just have to live with an early exit from the post-season. That's almost as rewarding. (Incidentally, I took great joy in watching Mike Mussina fumble his way through 2+ innings and record the loss. He's a traitor.)

Yet, despite the vitriol I spew at the Yankees any time I have the opportunity, I have to agree with bird. They cannot fire Joe Torre. It's not his fault the team dogged it for more than half the season. It's not his fault he only has two reliable pitchers in his bullpen. It's not his fault the Big Unit took the year off. It's not his fault all his starters found their way on and off the DL. It's not his fault A-Rod recorded a big, fat zero RBI in the ALDS. It's not his fault the Yanks left 11 men on base last night.

Blame lies elsewhere for this debacle. And it's difficult for some NY people to recognize it's not Torre's fault. Because in NY, success is based on World Series titles. No title means failed season. Someone has to take the fall after another year devoid of a title. History suggests the manager takes the axe. I hope someone in the NY front office has enough sense to realize repeating history would be a grave mistake.

At 10/12/2005 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i luv giambi

At 10/12/2005 2:49 PM, Blogger Balto17 said...

Oh, and I should add, Giambi is a tool, who doens't deserve comeback player because of his involvement with steroids.

At 10/12/2005 4:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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