Friday, January 24, 2014

Jonny Gomes Takes Shots At Yankees

Jonny Gomes was recently asked about the Yankees off season spending, and he had some comments that are seen as provoking their AL East rivals.  His basic comments were the following:

“People can go out and sign whoever they want right now," Gomes said. “Boxing rules, we still have the belt. Whoever else, reloads. Kind of flattering a little bit, you know, that [a division] rival has to reload as much as they did. We lost some core players; at the same time, this organization is extremely deep. The majority of our core group of guys is back. We’re champs. We have to uphold that title. I don’t think the mindset is going to change.’’

This would be inflammatory, except that it's entirely true.  The Red Sox are the team to beat, and even if we do beat them, we had to commit nearly half a billion dollars to do it.  Compare this to the Red Sox approach to last season, where they picked up role players, and middling free agents, trusted in their farm system, and bounce backs from current players to win the year.  In other words, they were the 1996 - 2000 Yankees.  We however are approaching team building the way we have since 2001: sign the big name.  This worked well for us in 2009, but it obviously didn't work well enough to allow us a repeat championship.  Now just a few years later, we're doing the same thing again.  Think about the fact that since 2000, when we won the last championship of the dynasty years and started to rev up our spending, we've only won one championship.  One.  In that same time, we've committed $2.4 billion to our payroll.  That's billion with a "b".  

The Yankees need to hope some of their prospects really shine this year.  After Jeter is gone, this team is not going to have a face.  Do you really think Tanaka, Sabathia, Teixeira, Ellsbury or McCann can replace him as the face of the franchise? 


Anonymous said...

It sounds like the Yankees do not have smart people making decisions about players. That is sad and I hope it will cost them in the ticket office. Otherwise, they will continue to make poor decisions about the team.

If Texeira is healthy and can produce, he might become the face of the Yankees just because he was part of the championship team. The others don't come close to that and many of them just remind us of other rival teams.

Rich Mahogany said...

Jeter's combination of longevity, on-field performance and appealing blandness can't be replaced. But when considering a team's image, the most important question is whether the team wins. Players on winning teams take on positive identities. Look at the Red Sox - in one year, they went from being portrayed as dysfunctional jerks to close-knit teammates who hang out together on off days. I don't think all that happened just because they traded noted asshole Josh Beckett, as they still had noted asshole John Lackey. The team went from being a very bad to very good, and you don't see very good teams described as dysfunctional.

Rich Mahogany said...

Gomes' comments begin with two idiotic sentences.

Yes, people can sign whomever they want. That's called free agency, and it's how Gomes joined the Red Sox.

Gomes may like to fight, but baseball is not boxing, it doesn't have a belt, you don't get to defend your title, and you still have to "reload" when your players leave, like when the Red Sox signed Pierzynski.

So all Gomes is saying is that the Red Sox are a deep and talented organization, which is true, but he is saying it in a profoundly stupid way.

Signing the big names has worked fairly well for the Yankees since 2001. They got some great years from Matsui, Mussina, Giambi, Sheffield, and Swisher. Trading for ARod was one of the smartest things the Yankees ever did (re-signing him is another story). The Yankees made the playoffs in all but two of those years, which is a real accomplishment.

I think the Yankees only started looking like a poorly-run franchise in the last two years, when the Hughes/Joba/Kennedy era ended with a whimper, Nunez never matured into a useful player, and the team's lack of minor league talent was exposed. Signing the big names covered up the team's inability to cultivate talent for more than a decade. Now that the well has run dry and the team is exposed at multiple positions, the Yankees have gone on an unprecedented spending spree to try to compensate. Even if this strategy works in the short term, it does not seems sustainable as the best players increasingly sign extensions rather than hit free agency, which makes actual free agents tend to be older and riskier.

Uncle Mike said...

In 1936, we won a World Series without Babe Ruth for the first time. In 1939, we won a World Series without Ruth and Lou Gehrig for the first time. In 1952, we won a World Series without Joe DiMaggio for the first time in 20 years. In 1977, we won a World Series without Mickey Mantle for the first time in 26 years. In 1996, we won a World Series without Thurman Munson and Reggie Jackson for the first time in 18 years.

When we win a World Series without Derek Jeter for the first time since 1978, one of two things will happen: Either we will, by and large, settle on a new "face of the franchise," or we simply won't care about one. Either way, I can live with it.

Fernando Alejandro said...

I like the comments here. I think you're right in that there is an element to winning that creates identity for a team. We associate players to how they perform for the team, and when it comes down to it, it won't matter if that player used to play for the Rangers, Mets, Red Sox or any other team in the majors. I think it'll be interesting to see how it all develops. I just don't feel very interested in this team in the moment, but that has a way of changing when baseball is being played, and an identity begins to develop. Right now it just feels like I'm looking at a random team.