A couple of months ago, this space featured a post defending Yankee fans. It's not as easy as it seems to be one. The expectations are so high and only George Bush was more hated around the country. But this off season has made it doubly difficult to defend the feisty creatures as the Yankees failed to land Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth, Zack Greinke, etc. The hue and cry by Yankee fans has become deafening and sort of erratic.
This Fan has a daily ritual of sorts each morning and evening by going around the Web and reading as many blogs as possible. The ritual includes: Buster Olney--who love him or hate him--at least writes every day and gives you something to think about; Rob Neyer for insight about what other people are writing; Joe Posnanski, the best baseball writer since Peter Gammons' prime, Josh Borenstein, because his place is different and he's a cool guy; Navin over at Sports and the City and now Notgraphs because he's one of the best young writers around and many others. There are simply amazing talents out there cranking the keyboard on a regular basis. Part of the ritual includes checking out several Yankee sites. They have been amazing this off season.
To recap the season, there was the overload on Jeter's contract. Every day, these Yankee sites would post several times a day with rumors and rehashes about the contract war between Jeter and the Yankees. It was certainly a relief when Jeter signed. Then there was the Lee speculation and when the Phillies signed him, there was outrage, disbelief and shock. It was almost as if it was unbelievable that anyone dared to win a free agent away from the Yankees.
Then the Red Sox went on a buying spree and signed Crawford and many others. The fact that Brian Cashman allowed the Red Sox to obtain such a coup was more than Yankee writers could take. Then the Royals sent Greinke to the Brewers and ugly out lashes about Greinke being a nut case emerged, which is awful and hurtful. And finally, there is disbelief settling in that the Yankees might have to go into 2011 with the hand they have.
The calls for Brian Cashman's head have come loud and clear like a clarion call. How dare he fail us!? What is he DOING? Why isn't anything happening! Yankee fandom has gotten fat and spoiled by another championship and by the recent signings of Sabathia, Burnett and Texeira. The belief is that all superstars belong in Yankee pinstripes. It has become surreal.
Wasn't it just a few years ago when the Yankees were criticized for going out and getting the Sheffields and Browns and other fading superstars and tying them up to long term contracts that led nowhere? And now that the Yankees aren't making a big splash this off season, the same people are upset because the Yankees did not get to lavish a seven year contract on a 32 year old pitcher. Can you have it both ways?
The original complaint was that the Yankees didn't ever keep their own talent and instead went out and copped proven talent (albeit old talent). Now the Yankees would prefer not to gut their minor league system and the complaint is just the opposite. You wouldn't trade Montero for Greinke?? What are you crazy?
Sometimes, Yankee fans, you simply have to trust those running the Yankees. Sometimes, Yankee fans, you have to have a little faith. One Yankee blog went on to recently announce that the Yankees are officially in a transition year (translation: aren't making the playoffs). Transition year? They haven't even played a game yet. Personally, transition years should be mentioned in hindsight and not foresight.
The reality is that the Yankees are not going to win it all evey single season. They've won 27 championships in 90 years. That's not exactly a 100% proposition. That's a pretty good track record though. The Red Sox are off their long drought and have won it all twice. The Giants are this year's improbable champs. Other teams are going to win. But that doesn't mean the Yankees are finished before they even play the season. Championships can be just as much about luck as about skills. Burnett could win 20 games. It's doubtful, but it could happen. How do you know it won't?
The Fan thinks it's great that the Yankees want to develop their own talent. The Fan loves rookies. Phil Hughes was fun to watch on his uneasy glide to 17 wins. Bring on two kid pitchers. Why not? The Yankees are trying to be more fiscally rational. That's not a bad thing. It will be the Red Sox regretting the back end of Crawford's deal and not the Yankees. It will be the Phillies in a Barry Zito situation a few years from now and not the Yankees.
The Yankees may not win it all this year. Or they just may. That's why they play the season. To bury them before a single game is played would be a mistake. Sure, the Yankees could pick up a couple of high risk guys like Webb and Young. Couldn't hurt. Might not help. Might. The point is that Cashman will be judged in hindsight. It's way too soon to being going this nuts. On paper, the Yankees are still a 90 to 95 win team. Relax. Take a deep breath. Life will go on. And maybe...just maybe...it will be Brachman winning a World Series game instead of Bumgarner. Hey, it could happen. Or it may not.