Peter Gammons, despite often being criticized for having a Boston bias, offers some very good perspective on the current Yankee “turmoil.”
A dozen years ago, Buck Showalter was fired by the Yankees, and those who knew what he and former GM Gene Michael had done in restoring the organization thought it was unfair and unwise.
Whether it’s Don Mattingly, Joe Girardi, John Farrell or somebody else, New York is not going to be Pittsburgh with a mountain to rebuild. It’s the Yankees, and the Steinbrenners will spend the money on the big-ticket players — meaning Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada or Johan Santana.
What Torre and Brian Cashman did to rebuild the team by installing young players from the farm system (under the organization of scouting director Damon Oppenheimer and Mark Newman, senior vice president of baseball operations) makes the Yankees far better right now than they were when they lost to the Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS. Torre nurtured Melky Cabrera to the point that he is an energetic, vibrant center fielder with one of the best arms at his position in the league. Torre and Mattingly brought along Robinson Cano, who is going to be a .330 hitter capable of 35-40 homers at second base. Shelley Duncan has legitimate power and plays the game with a youthful exuberance. And Mattingly still believes in Bronson Sardinha.
Then, there’s the pitching, whether they keep Chien-Ming Wang or not. Joba Chamberlain can do whatever they want, and Phil Hughes, Ross Ohlendorf, Ian Kennedy and Alan Horne are the core of a staff that won’t require giving Carlos Silva a Carl Pavano-esque contract. They might have enough to get into the Santana sweepstakes. Humberto Sanchez will be on the radar by August, and Andrew Brackman by spring 2009.
If Cashman is allowed to run the operation — and there is every reason to believe the Steinbrenner family understands his accomplishments and supports him — whoever gets chosen to manage will have one of the best and brightest allies and partners in the business. Because of the unseemly end to the Torre era, whoever replaces him will have the backing of the Steinbrenners and all the resources that backing guarantees. This makes it a more feasible situation than following John Wooden or Dean Smith. The Yankees are headed into the gold mine of a new stadium. Unless they lose A-Rod, Posada, Rivera and Bobby Abreu, and Chamberlain and Hughes break down, they’re not getting cancellations on the YES Network. They are the Yankees, and their fans watched them when Horace Clarke bobbled balls at second and Rick Rhoden DH’d and Mel Hall was drivin’ people crazy. Be it Donnie Baseball, Girardi, Farrell or whoever, the Yankees will be expected to make the playoffs. That — and the resources — sure beat places where the owner cares more about Bud Selig than about his fans or where the mission statement is .500, in due time.
The Yankees have a great foundation built. If they stay the course with Cashman, they will continue to use their tremendous amount of resources to stockpile young talent. And sure there are many reasons why firing Torre could have been imprudent; but firing Showalter was much the same. Great job here by Gammons simultaneously praising Torre’s ability and showing how in some ways he is irrelevant.