As baseball analysts raced to judge the CC Sabathia trade, an interesting tidbit emerged about the Yankees: They don’t, as I noted earlier, know their 2008 chances, and as the season rushes into the All Star break, the Yanks could go one of two ways.
If they finish strong in their last six games before the break and start the second half of the season with a few wins, they could close the gap in the AL or at least in the Wild Card race and emerge as serious contenders. If they stumble their way to the All Star break and lose a few games against some of their stronger opponents after the break, they could slip further behind in the playoff hunt. Or they could keep on treading water as they’re doing now, holding back too far in the division but not quite far enough in the Wild Card to figure out what’s happening.
So submitted for discussion, two scenarios:
The Yankees Should Be Sellers
The New York Yankees are old and underachieving. They’re a collection of overpaid, under-performing players past their prime spending too much time on the DL. The Yankees should sell.
Maybe they could move Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui for a few younger players. Maybe they could ship off Kyle Farnsworth while he’s in the middle of a solid stretch. Maybe they could foist Mike Mussina, in the middle of a latter-day career resurgence, onto the Phillies. Maybe they should look at some of their more expendable and younger players like Wilson Betemit, who doesn’t have a clear-cut role but could command a decent return, or Melky Cabrera, who has seemingly outlived his usefulness in the Bronx.
They should sell now because when 2009 rolls around, this team will have a whole new look. They could land CC Sabathia; they could sign Mark Teixeira. They’ll have a full year’s worth of Joba Chamberlain in the rotation, a repaired Chien-Ming Wang and a hopefully healthy Phil Hughes. Austin Jackson and Jesus Montero will be one year closer to the Bigs, and the 2009 team will look far different from the current iteration of the 2008 team. Sell. Sell. Sell.
The Yankees Should Be Buyers
Sell? Since when do the New York Yankees give up on a season? They’re just four games out of the Wild Card and only three in the loss column. Even the nine games between them and Tampa Bay — Tampa Freakin’ Bay! — isn’t that daunting. They’ve done it before; they could do it again.
No, my friend, the Yankees should buy. Brian Cashman has built up a stocked farm system, and one of the advantages of such a farm system is knowing who to keep and who should be traded for what when the time is right. They could use some of those pieces to acquire what they need — a right-handed bat, a top-line starter — to push them over the edge.
If they let Abreu, Mussina, Farnsworth and Giambi walk next year, they’ll land the draft picks to replenish the system. So why not buy and win this year? Anything short of the playoffs is simply unacceptable, and with $200 million and his potential job on the line, Cashman may need to let go of some of his vaunted prospects if he wants to see October or a new contract.
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So there you go. What would you do with the 2008 New York Yankees? Sell the ones you can sell or hold to your Major League chips, jettison some kids and stock up for a stretch run?