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When the New Yankees Act Like the Old Yankess

The Yankees are going back to the future.

Brian Cashman by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

When the New Yankees Act Like the Old Yankess

Estimated Reading Time: 6 Minutes

The New York Yankees met with top free agent Manny Machado this week for a hotly anticipated sitdown in the Bronx. The Yankees rolled out the red carpet for Machado at Yankee Stadium, even putting his player card on the jumbotron. Manny’s smiling face has been shown on that same jumbotron hundreds of times, but this was different. The pinstripes on his chest and NY on his cap sent shivers down the spines of baseball fans across the globe.

The first image of Manny Machado as a New York Yankees has arrived. And it was as big as the city he might call home.

The Yankees have always been known for landing big-time stars and paying big-time payrolls. The Evil Empire made a name for themselves as a big spending club throughout the 2000s. The Yanks weren’t afraid to go out and get the players they wanted regardless of the price tag.

After seeing the fruits of their labor, the homegrown core four of Jeter, Posada, Rivera, and Pettite became the backbone of the team. This Yankees club flourished into one that was perennially in the later rounds of the postseason. To supplement that core, the Yankees would bring in guys like Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Gary Sheffield. They also made several big roster moves, most notably, trading for Alex Rodriguez.

The Rodriguez acquisition strikes me as the clearest comparison to the Machado campaign. The Yankees were looking to bolster their lineup with a stud, but couldn’t find one in their system. The Texas Rangers, on the other hand, were desperately looking to rebuild, and A-Rod’s contract was becoming an issue. The teams swapped shortstops and cash, and A-Rod joined the Yankees. The forecast in the Bronx called for rings, and lots of them.

However, the Yankees would only see one ring during A-Rod’s tenure in pinstripes. And unlike Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter before him, Alex Rodriguez was pushed out of the Bronx.

With the acquisition of Machado, the Yankees would be doing the opposite of the A-Rod deal: they’d be bringing in a third baseman and transitioning him to shortstop, despite having very solid options at both positions already.

If there’s one chip Machado can hold in negotiations, it’s that he doesn’t want to play third. It’s been stated before (MANY TIMES BEFORE) that Machado doesn’t want to play third base. That’s a problem. It wasn’t a problem for the 2003-04 Yankees but is a problem for the 2019 Yankees.

In 2002 and 2003, the Yankees had two solid prospects in their system that could have plugged the hole at third in Erick Almonte and Drew Henson, the latter being the team’s #1 prospect.

If you’re wondering why you’ve never heard of these guys before, it’s because you shouldn’t. Drew Henson is now a scout, after playing in 8 total games for the Yankees and hitting .111 during that extremely short span.

The Yankees had an opening at the hot corner, and they were looking to fill that roster spot with someone who could get them back to the World Series after losing their last three appearances. A-Rod was the guy.

After getting close to the World Series in 2017, and then losing to the eventual World Champion Red Sox in the ALDS, it would seem that this Yankees team is poised to make a similar move.

That would be a terrible mistake.

Yes, Didi Gregorius is out for the majority of next year, but then what? Machado is going to get a long-term deal and you can’t just boot Gregorius for Machado.

And if you do displace Gregorius for Machado and move him to a different infield spot you’re going to have to ditch a high level, low cost player like Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, who just finished 2nd and 3rd in Rookie of the Year voting.

Are you serious? Why? Why would the Yankees value a guy like Machado over a young talent like Andujar or Torres? It doesn’t make any sense.

Earlier this season, I wrote about how the Red Sox shouldn’t fight fire with fire by signing J.D. Martinez to respond to the Yankees acquiring Giancarlo Stanton. The following proved to be more true than I could have imagined.

“[Pitching] is the hole the Red Sox needed to fill. Instead, they brought in an expensive, injury prone outfielder to DH, forcing them to spend $30 million on two first basemen, when in reality they only needed one.

The way to beat the Yankees is with elite pitching. The Yankees lost Michael Pineda and will be relying heavily on Tanaka, Severino, and Gray next year, all of whom have their faults that can be exploited. The biggest loss for the Yankees was Pineda who opted for Minnesota. The Yankees will always be a threat at the plate, and that’s where you need to beat them.”

– A Younger, Smarter Justin Colombo

The Yankees in 2004 came into the year with Kevin Brown, Mike Mussina, Orlando Hernandez, and to some extent, Javier Vasquez and Jon Lieber. That was solid early 2000s rotation right there. Bolstering the offense was the way to go.

In 2018, the opposite is true. The Yankees offense is HUMMING, but it’s on the mound where they’re suffering. J.A. Happ, Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino can’t do this alone. Sure a healthy James Paxton could help, and a relatively decent Sonny Gray could aid the Yankees hopes of returning tot the top of the AL East, but is that the best rotation they could muster?

No. It’s not.

The addition of Patrick Corbin could have helped, but they missed the boat and now he’s in Washington. Dallas Keuchel is a solid option, but it would appear he’s still shopping around. Charlie Morton signed within the division, and the best options still on the market are Gio Gonzalez, Derek Holland, and Clay Buchholz.

If the Yankees sign Machado all of that goes out the window and they’re stuck with the rotation they have, one that’s seemingly held to together with scotch tape and dreams.

Manny Machado doesn’t make the Yankees any better. If anything signing him puts them in a hole that will make it tougher to get to the top of the AL East, a task that is already herculean.

The Yankees might be a fully functioning Death Star, but don’t forget that the Death Star blew up twice after seemingly making improvements.

Justin Colombo is a 2017 Broadway Show Softball League All-Star at 3B/SS. He's essentially the Manny Machado of the Kinky Boots team. Justin has been writing about Baseball since he was a little kid. Now that being an actor in NYC has given him a lot of free time, in 2015 he decided to take his passion public and founded Three Up, Three Down as a way to express his love for the game. From there, Three Up, Three Down grew from a hobby to an obsession. After years of growth and one insult from MLB's Historian, Justin launched The Turf, a way to expand into all areas of the sporting world. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter. LET'S. GO. METS.

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