The Yankees Recent Decline

Some Thoughts on the Yankees Decline Over the Last 8 Years

Most fans wouldn’t be too mad if their team had not won a championship in just eight years. If someone told Cubs or Indians fans that they would have to wait just eight more years to win the World Series, they would take it in a second.

For the Yankees and their fans, eight years is like an eternity. It has been well chronicled in books such as Buster Olney’s “The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty” that for some reason, even though they have more money than anyone else, they are having trouble getting past even the first round of the playoffs. During this time, their archrival, the Boston Red Sox, have reeled off two championships when they hadn’t won one in over 80 years.

For any other team, the last eight years would not have been a disappointment, but the Yankees believe it is their right to win the Series at least once every three years.

There’s no real way to pinpoint why the Yankees haven’t been able to win in the post season besides the obvious fact that they have overspent on many free agents. The overspending probably isn’t the problem since they have the money to spend, but it’s the fact that once these veterans get on the team, their production drops, some even within the first year of signing their contract.

Many believe the end of the Yankees dynasty began when they gave up the lead in game seven of the 2001 World Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks especially because they lost Chuck Knoblauch, Scott Brosius, Tino Martinez and fan favorite Paul O’Neill during the off season.

If anything else, the 2002 season would be the start of another dynasty with new faces as free agent Jason Giambi hammered 41 homeruns to lead the Yanks to the best record in the American League.

Although they lost during the first round of the playoffs, it was hardly unexpected since they had so many new faces.

Their dominance of the AL continued during the next year during which is what truly may be the last season of the Yankee dynasty. They made it to the Series once again only to be beat by a very young, inexperienced, Florida Marlins team in six games.

Not only did they lose out on the championship once again, the next season they watched the Red Sox finally beat their curse.

Perhaps what they needed at that time was a completely new over haul or a new look because over the next couple of seasons, they went from a great team to a good team.

They still made the playoffs every year, but they frequently lost in the first round.

Even though they added all stars Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield in the 2003 off season, it was just more of the same.

What the Yankees really need is to start building from within their farm system which they seemed to have started to do at least with their pitchers. They are still faced with aging outfielders with declining skills that are locked up in long term deals.

Many of the starters currently on their team, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada for two, are home grown talent that people forget about because they have been with the team for so long. During the dynasty, the Yankees farm system became dilapidated and was widely viewed as one of the worst in the league simply because the Yanks didn’t believe they had to grow their own talent, they would just continue to steal the top free agents from around the league and always have the answers.

The problems with this “solution” were probably magnified the most by the signing of Johnny Damon and the rapid decline of Jason Giambi. Both were at the top of their games when they signed with the Yankees in free agency and both didn’t take long to turn for the worst once they were in the pinstripes.

Many are not worried with the 2008 Yanks because they have come out slow out of the gate, but perhaps they should be. They now have a new mouthy boss who seems to think he knows all of the answers (Perhaps one of the reasons Joe Torre didn’t sign the contract.).

It has almost gotten to the point where one has to wonder who would want to play for the Yankees. Yes, they may have the history and the past championships, but the modern day athlete doesn’t seem to care as much about this as they do about their own personal agenda and the only agenda they would be following with the Yankees is the Steinbrenner agenda.

No facial hair, no long hair, no earrings and a boss with no real knowledge of baseball breathing down your throat isn’t exactly the most inviting place for a player to sign (Not to mention the relentless media and tabloid coverage that comes with playing in New York.).

At this rate, the Yanks are going to have to rely on the farm system to produce their talent because they are also not going to be able to simply buy up talent anymore.

Besides the reasons mentioned above, there seems to be a lot more teams out there willing to compete with the Yankees in terms of spending money in the free agent market in places that may seem much more inviting than a place where one has to sell their soul.

Perhaps the best thing the Yankees can do is to start playing the rich team’s version of Moneyball. Instead of trying to lead the league in buying up the most free agents on the market, perhaps they should start spending their money wisely in ways that their team could actually use.

Getting a new manager, Joe Girardi, was probably more of a positive than anything else and it has been reported that he has been able to fire up the team more than Torre had at the end of his tenure, but the problem lies more with the talent on the field than those in the offices, but it is up to those in the offices to find the right talent for the field.

4 Comments

  1. SoxAddict

    May 23, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    Not a single mention of steroids. For shame.

    The roid downfall of Giambi and Sheffield and Clemens (in doses .. heh get it? doses?) helped in their decline too.

  2. Bill Jordan

    May 27, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Most notably the downfall of Giambi and steroids as Clemens’ allegations and downfall really didn’t come until after last season and there’s no way to tell whether that affected his performance last year.

  3. Paul Strike

    February 16, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    I was born in Chicago in the 50s, so learned at an early age to appreciate and hate the Yankees. As I have aged the respect continues and I have outgrown the younger hate over yankees constantly besting ?my? White Sox. My response is about the championship tee shirts ? who decision to purchase generic ?gray? tee shirts to cover the Yankee pinstripes. Those tshirts made the guys appear ordinary like fans at a flag football game, and covering the Yankee stripes in this moment of triumph was to me an act of sacrilege.

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