Somewhere, at some time at some place, Hal Steinbrenner had an aha moment. He realized that as presently constituted, the Yankees weren’t going to win the World Series this season.
As one very wise person once said, you are what your record says you are, and these Yankees aren’t a juggernaut by any sense of the imagination.
After 104 games played, they sit at 52-52, a .500 team on the nose. They were 44-44 prior to the All-Star break, are 8-8 following the All-Star break and finished July with a 13-13 record following Sunday’s loss to the Rays.
Despite having arguably the greatest trio of relievers ever assembled on one team in the history of baseball, it wasn’t translating into victories. The Yankees opened the season banking on the team handing over a lead to the bullpen after six innings so the “No Runs DMC” trio of Betances, Miller and Chapman could shut the door.
As it turned out, the amount of times the Yankees were able to turn over a lead after six innings to the pen were too few and far between and the team’s were problems were not enigmatic. The issue was lack of talent. Plain and simple.
Taking all of this into consideration, Hal did something George was incredulous to during his 36-year tenure as Yankees owner. He jeopardized the immediate future with the hopes of one day spawning the magic of the franchise’s iconic past by trading away prized pieces Chapman and Miller for wellsprings of prospects.
First, Steinbrenner gave Brian Cashman the approval needed to send Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs in exchange for minor leaguers Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford, as well as former Yankee Adam Warren.
Then six days later, Steinbrenner did the unthinkable, giving Cashman the go-ahead to trade Andrew Miller to the Indians. In return, the Yankees received two of Cleveland’s top three prospects in Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield (not the he nephew of former Yankee Gary Sheffield), and minor league pitchers Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen.
The jury is still out on how great newcomers Torres, Frazier, Sheffield, as well as main stayers Mateo, Judge and Sanchez will be, but the Yankees have put themselves in a potentially galvanizing position not seen in the Bronx since the likes of Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera were all virtual unknowns Yankee brass was praying would one day lead the franchise back to glory.
Following the Chapman and Miller deals, the Yankees are now tied with the Astros for having the most prospects in MLB.com’s top 100 and have the most prospect points of any team in the sport with 400, according to Jim Callis of MLB.com.
While barring any miracles, 2016 will not bring elusive championship No. 28 to the “Canyon of Heroes,” Hal Steinbrenner’s pragmatic realization that it makes more sense to essentially wave the white flag on one season and deal with the resulting scourge in order for the Yankees to possibly form another dynasty was a decision years in the making and is something that could pay enormous dividends in the not too distant future.