Yankees fall to the Astros

Updated: October 7, 2015

In line with their recent postseason history, the presence of the 2015 New York Yankees on the October stage was a brief one. Since winning the World Series in 2009 it seems like it has been one pitcher after another taking the air out of Yankee Stadium, and last night it was Houston Astros starter Dallas Keuchel. Keuchel kept the Bombers off-balance all night, and along with the much maligned Houston bullpen allowed just three hits during their 3-0 win in the American League wild-card game.

Committing around six months of time to watching Yankee baseball (and listening to Michael Kay) only to watch their season end in a three-hour span is always a kick in the stones, but the disappointment I am feeling this morning isn’t as severe as it has been in past years. This is due to the fact that I had no expectations for this team when the season began and didn’t anticipate them having the talent or depth to remain relevant over 162 games. By the end though, it became one of my favorite teams in recent memory – not just because they were winning games, but because the roster finally showed some youth and promise for better days ahead. I can’t count how many back and forth text messages I had with fellow fans who shared the same sentiments -that they really liked the makeup of this particular squad due to the incorporation of older veterans with players fresh from the minor league system.

I have been as critical as anyone when it comes to on the job performance of Brian Cashman during his tenure as the team’s General Manager. Despite all the resources in the world at his disposal, for over ten years he failed to build an adequate farm system that could regularly feed the big club with its next generation of players. As a result of the inadequacy of the baseball operations group, they have had to continually overpay for free agents in their 30’s and lock those positions in, essentially removing any possibility of youngers players developing into those roles over time.

Cashman appears to be bulletproof however, as the current Steinbrenner regime keeps giving him chance after to chance to turn things around. Just take a look at the current Yankee roster – it is still loaded with players who were given long-term contracts at absurd rates well after their primes ended. A few of those players (i.e. Tex and A-Rod) managed to have throwback campaigns this season, but that level of production will be hard to replicate again due to age and injury history.

In my mind, outside of the performances of Tex and A-Rod, the primary reason for excitement around this year’s team was the work of the bullpen and the moves Cashman didn’t make at the trade deadline. Led by Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Justin Wilson, the Yankees featured a trio of powerful relievers that shortened games and preserved leads. Betances in particular was arguably the best bullpen arm in the game until the amount of innings he logged all year sapped his energy down the stretch (see Joe Girardi). The combination of him and Miller locking down the eighth and ninth innings was definitely exciting to watch, as this was the strength of the team and should be again next year barring excessive overuse from the skipper.

Greg Bird and Luis Severino were two of the prospects Cashman held onto at the trade deadline, and their potential was on full display down the stretch. Only 22, Bird stepped in for the injured Mark Teixeira and quickly showed that his bat was more than major league ready, hitting 11 home runs in 46 games. He had a number of clutch hits late in games, and though he isn’t near the all-world fielder Tex is, his glove work is passable and will hopefully improve over time. The job will be his for good in 2017, but I wouldn’t mind seeing him on the big club in a reserve role next year to keep Tex fresh.

Servy showed glimpses of the electric stuff that characterize a top of the rotation starter, taking the ball in eleven games and finishing the year with a 2.89 ERA. For such a young talent (21 years-old), he consistently made quality starts and bounced back from his only real dreadful outing. He will in all likelihood begin next year in the No. 2 spot in the rotation, and one can only hope he develops into the homegrown ace this franchise has been desperate for.

In addition to incorporating more youth into the mix next year, the Yankees will likely be looking for an impact pitcher (Zach Greinke or Johnny Cueto perhaps) and a right-handed power bat during the offseason. All depends on how much money the Yankees want to spend as their hands are still tied to a degree by the contracts of Tanaka, CC, Tex, A-Rod, and Ellsbury. Fans are anxiously waiting for Aaron Judge to arrive in the bigs, but that will most likely be in 2017 when Beltran is no longer on the books.

The surprising run the team went on this year will only serve to strengthen the leverage of the Cashman/Girardi partnership. Though I remain uneasy of what this represents based on their respective track records, if the franchise continues to hold onto their assets and try to build from within, this could be a very exciting (and different looking) team in a few years.






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