A few of days have now passed. The reality that the Yankees’ magical postseason run of 2017 is over has now set in like a lead-pipe Monday morning.
But this one feels a little different. You just needed a quick hangover cure this time — White Castle if you’re back home, or FatBurger if you’re way out West like me — and you rebound with a fond look back at an improbable season and unbounded optimism for the future.
In years past the Staten Island Yankees were affectionately called the Baby Bombers due to their age, but now moniker belongs to big club as youth and power makes the term really pay off.
The Piano Man
It seems like forever but it wasn’t very long ago the Bronx Bombers were not only expected to get to the ALCS — but win it — and crush whatever poor saps were left standing on the NL side.
Not only expected. It was demanded. And those were the good ‘ol days, right?
Like Oyster Bay, Long Island’s own Billy Joel once sang “The good old days weren’t always good, and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems”.
That Was Then
The Yankees had some powerhouse lineups from 2002 to 2010, but only closed the deal once — in 2009 — and only after CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Mark Teixeria were inked.
That was then, this is now. And now is good, even after giving up a 3-2 lead in the ALCS. Using a K-Long phrase, you gotta tip your cap to Houston. They did what they were supposed to do and the Yankees had no answer on the road — something that has to be fixed going forward.
There is an issue with the horrific umpiring in the series, but that’s for another day. The way Luis Severino started to get squeezed in the 4th inning of Game 6.
And don’t get me started on Aaron Hicks at-bat against Verlander in the 7th. That 3-1 call goes correct and it’s bases loaded, no outs against a pitcher clearly becoming uncomfortable.
You tell me what happens next. I’ll leave it at this for now — and something I never thought I’d even *think* about — electronic strike zones! Put a mannequin behind the catcher for effect, but let’s get these calls right!
Enough of that for now. Today is about looking forward. The seeds that GM Brian Cashman and the organization planted have come to bloom a bit quicker than expected at the major league level.
And even better news is that the pipeline is full of serious talent at all positions.
This brings me back to two eras — 1976, when the Big Red Machine swept Billy Martin’s squad in the World Series — and 1995, when the Yankees lost the first-ever Wild Card series in Game 5 to the Seattle Mariners in the now demolished Kingdome.
Both times New York knocked on the door, and the next year they kicked it down. That’s what this club at this time is feeling like. One that’s on the cusp of big things.
The off-season promises to be more interesting than usual, as it’s not major free agent signings we’re worried about (thank goodness!), but who is coming back, and how to plug this hole or that one.
The Big Man
CC Sabathia is a no-brainer — have to sign The Big Man to a one-year, incentive-ladented deal if nothing else. His transformation from a power pitcher to a ‘pitcher’ has been nothing less than astounding. Not to mention his clubhouse presence and leadership of the young guns in the rotation.
In our humble opinion, no way Tanaka opts out. He came to New York for one thing — a ring, and the organization is poised to compete for that like no time in his stay here. And let’s face it, if you come to America to win a championship there is only one place to do it. New York. So we’re not expecting him to sign with, say, Tampa anytime soon.
While there is some hearsay about the organization and the manager mutually agreeing to part ways, Joe Girardi should be re-upped, no question — that is if he wants to return (see: Girardi to assess his future with family). Here’s to hoping he does. Unless he’s totally burned out after 10 years on the job, which is understandable, he has to consider what the organization is on the cusp of. It could be another historic chapter for a club that wrote the book on historic chapters. Girardi has helped get them here, and other than family considerations there is no reason he shouldn’t see it through.
The buzz is that the Yanks will lose the ToddFather to an offer he can’t refuse, as in a four-year deal from some club somewhere. From the front office perspective there are a wealth of options, but bringing back Todd Frazier makes great sense and gut feeling says the Yankees would if a two-year deal could be considered.
But who would walk away from a four-year deal to accept a two-year one? We’re guessing maybe Todd Frazier. Think about it. Two wildly successful years in New York would be worth far more than four years in some God forsaken MLB outpost. Think of post-career broadcasting opportunities, endorsement deals, etc. That’s a package that would pay off better in the long run. From all accounts a great teammate, clubhouse guy, defender and timely home run hitter.
If Joe and Yankees do indeed part ways, this will be the biggest early story of the winter months. Until that happens we don’t even want to speculate on his replacement, but the organization usually keeps it in-house on decisions like these. This and other much discussed roster questions will be bubbling over the coming weeks. Never a dull moment in Yankees Universe, and we don’t expect that to change anytime soon.
Let’s go, Yankees!