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Monday, February 24, 2014
Trosty Icepick says…“To Yankee fans, those philosophies are sacred!”
It symbolizes the Yankee front office waking up to what’s been happening around them over the last 5 or so years and realizing that a team full of mashers isn’t going to get it done. Pitching wins championships, and elite defense behind any kind of pitching can elevate a team’s chances to win just as much as a bunch of 30-HR hitters can. That’s the kind of defense that Ellsbury and Gardner will provide. Another thing that helps win championships is keeping your best players around while they’re in their prime, and the Yankees recognized that Gardner does fit that bill even without plus power. He can hit at the top or bottom of a lineup, he can be an elite defensive outfielder in multiple positions, and he’s 30 years old. He would have been expensive to retain had he hit the free agent market after this season, possibly too expensive for the Yankees’ plans. Rather than take that risk, they decided to do the smart thing and negotiate an extension with him. They said they wanted him around and they took proactive steps to ensure that he still would be. What a concept!
And it’s not just Ellsbury and Gardner that stand out as examples of this evolving front office philosophy. Look at some of the other moves they’ve made this offseason. Brian McCann is one of the best catchers in the game and a well above-average hitter, but he’s no one-trick pony. His defensive skills are just as good if not better than his bat, and the value he’ll bring to the pitching staff and team defense will be felt just as much as every home run he hit over the short porch. Kelly Johnson certainly isn’t an All Star at any position, but he can play a bunch of them and play them well according to most defensive metrics. Brendan Ryan‘s only draw is his glove, and that draw earned him a 3-year deal. Do you think there’s any chance the Yanks would have given all-D/no-O Ryan that contract 5 years ago? I doubt it.
This past offseason was a very successful one, and it got a little more successful yesterday with the Gardner extension. Sure, there are a few things the Yanks could have done differently that could have made it better. I know I’m no more comfortable with the situations at second and third right now than I was a week or a month ago. But in looking at what the Yankees have done, they certainly appear as though they’re making a concerted effort to build a more balanced baseball team. They’ve still got some mashers in the middle of the order, but they’ve surrounded them with better starting pitching, better overall pitching depth, more speed, better defense, and increased roster flexibility. If the Gardner extension was a sign of new things to come as we move further away from the Core Four Era, we should all be excited about what the future may have in store for this franchise.
Posted: February 24, 2014 at 09:19 AM | 50 comment(s)
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