Monday, October 23, 2017
It has been years since the future of the Yankees has been as clear as it is now. A dynamic core of young talent, centered on the captivating Aaron Judge, is in place. Burdensome contracts — symbols of the checkbook strategy that the Yankees used to rely on to build contenders — are coming off the books.
It does not take pinstriped glasses to envision World Series title No. 28 in the near future — with 29 and 30 not that far behind.
In effect, this Yankees season, which did not end until a Game 7 loss to the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series on Saturday, was an affirmation of an organizational evolution, one in which the impetuous has largely given way to the meticulous.
And yet, in the somber aftermath of Saturday’s defeat, it was hard not to recognize the inevitable uncertainty of the winter ahead.
Part of what made this season special—and it was special despite how it ended—was that it was a surprise. Nobody expected Aaron Judge to do what he did this year. Few expected the season Luis Severino ended up having. Raise your hand if you saw Chad Green coming?
The Yankees could very well be better in 2018 than they were this year, but it’s not a given. They do have to replace several important parts of the team and it’s fairly likely we’ll see regression in a lot of areas that exceeded expectations. But now we also are going to expect great things from them going forward, and while I’m optimistic it’s not a given. Houston isn’t really going anywhere any time soon. Cleveland will probably be a top team again next year. Boston is always around and always irritating.
I’m not so sure 2018 is going to be a consolation prize, especially with Hal-Cap™. The Yankees are freeing up a fair amount of money but they can’t spend a lot of it if they want to remain under that salary cap. Maybe that’s better and will force them to give more prospects an extended look. But it also means that there’s a good chance the 2018 team won’t be as good as the 2017 team was.
Still, the outlook is far better for this organization now than it was a year ago, and that’s pretty nice.
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