The Yankees inability to find a backup catcher or utility infielder who can contribute with the bat while fielding decently is baffling because by not finding these kinds of players, who are often available and always inexpensive, the Yankees risk seeing a team with a payroll in excess of $200 million fail to make the playoffs because they were unable to solve problems that would have cost, at most, a few million dollars in salary. Given the age of a number of key players, notably Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees have additional reason to need a strong bench, and should have known this before the season started.
The Yankees inability to develop highly touted pitching prospects into quality major league starters is an organizational problem that probably involves scouts, minor league managers and coaches, big league managers and coaches and front office management. Solving this problem will not be easy and probably cannot be done simply by bringing in one pitching guru like the San Francisco Giants’ Dick Tidrow.
The New York Yankees have been the biggest non-story of the off-season. Not surprisingly, given the role the Yankees play in baseball’s shared consciousness, this non-story has itself become one of the major themes of this off-season. Shortly after the World Series, the Yankees renegotiated a big contract with their ace pitcher CC Sabathia. Since resigning Sabathia, the team has done almost nothing. They have signed Hideki Okajima to a minor league contract, parted ways with longtime catching star Jorge Posada, but made no significant changes to their major league roster.
While all pitching prospects, presumably, would like to develop into big league pitchers who can have long and productive careers, this is not the goal of the teams who control their future. Bringing pitchers along slowly and carefully is probably the best thing for pitchers, but it may not be the best way to win championships. Baseball history is full of pitchers who burned out early or injured their arm due to overuse at a young age, but for fans and management this is not a tragedy but simply part of the game. Teams should not be oblivious to the risks of overworking a young pitcher. These risks are quite real, but teams should also recognize that sometimes they need to take that risk.