SportsReporters’ Mandel Responds to Will Leitch’s Love Letter About Yankees in Oct. 7 New York Magazine

Published on: 4th October, 2013

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Will Leitch writes for New York Magazine  | read this item

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The current issue of New York Magazine contains an article written by a very good writer named Will Leitch. It’s entitled, “Don’t Panic, The Yankees Are Already Back” and talks about how there really is an excellent master plan in place for the Yankees to stay at or near the top of the American League standings for the foreseeable future.
 
I decided to write to Mr. Leitch to correct some of his assumptions.

 

Mr. Leitch,

Generally, I find your opinions interesting and balanced.

And well-written.

Today, having just read your “Don’t Panic, The Yankees Are Already Back” piece in the October 7th issue of New York Magazine, I felt compelled to contact you to help you to understand where your overly positive views of this franchise and its future prospects have not only gone awry, it’s completely unreasonable. I’m happy to lay out for you, the four main reasons why the future of this team, of this iconic organization is going to look more like the trough of losing the Yankees found themselves in from 1965 – 1975 than in the fanciful state you place them in.

Incompetent Organization and Decision-Making

You made no mention of the makeup of the executive branch of the Yankee organization and its impact on this team’s on-field failures for three years running. One of the reasons the franchise finds itself in this perfect storm of aging veterans, unproductive young players who cannot step in to replace the old players, and an overstuffed payroll they no longer want to carry is because of the incompetence of the front office. That great “baseball man,” Randy Levine, held the title of Deputy Mayor of New York in his last job. It has been joked about in baseball circles that he couldn’t pick out a baseball from a football if given the chance, yet, he is the President of the New York Yankees.

Brian Cashman, the titular general manager of the team and the person with the purported responsibility for delivering talent for the major league roster and developing talent in the crucial minor league system, has failed miserably. The question is, has he failed by his own decision-making or by being hamstrung by the several bosses he reports to (Levine, Lon Trost, Hal Steinbrenner – son of George), as opposed to the old days, when Cashman needed only to gain the approval for baseball moves from one man, the towering George Steinbrenner, the former managing general partner of the team who passed away in 2010.

Payroll Imbalance

The Yankees 2013 payroll paid 80 million dollars just for pitchers, a figure that exceeds the total payrolls of several major league clubs. By itself, although a ridiculous amount of money to spend, one could almost excuse their decadence if the pitchers weren’t mostly ready for Social Security. Andy Pettitte is 41. Hiroki Kuroda is 38. Mariano is 43. CC Sabathia, the former ace, is the baby of the starting staff at 33, and an old 33, at that. The only reasonably priced starting pitcher on this team is the mercurial Ivan Nova, the 25-year old who can look like Cy Young on any given day yet follow that up with a performance closely resembling Cy Old.

Lack of Developed Talent Within the Farm System

Most clubs can develop a position player or two every year to bring up to the majors and begin to to contribute at that level. The Yankees have nobody, not one player, who projects as a starter on the 2014 Yankees. The last home-grown player the Yankees can take credit for who has had any impact on their success is Robinson Cano, now 30 years of age and ironically, in real jeopardy of leaving the organization for a higher bidder for his services. Having a productive system mitigates against signing over-valued, aging free agents to long-term contracts (see Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia) that cannot be worth the money that is paid out to these lucky recipients, especially in the last third of the contract’s length.

The Yankees Are No Longer the Yankees in the Eyes of Major League Free Agents

The Bombers used to be the team everyone wanted to go play for, since Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson left the Oakland Athletics in the 1970s to bring their talents to the south Bronx. It’s simply not the case, any longer. Professional athletes (and their agents) realize just as much endorsement money can be made by playing in Indianapolis (Peyton Manning) and Minneapolis (Joe Mauer) and Anaheim as in New York. The lure of the big city simply ain’t what it used to be.

Best, 

Scott Mandel

SportsReporters.com

 

Editors Note: Will Leitch sent me an email within seconds of receiving the above note. It reads:

 

Leitch, Will
to scott
Wow! Impressively researched! I don’t actually have time to dig into this now, but I absolutely will. Thank you for doing it.
And please do send it to New York Magazine’s editors. They will love it.
Best,
Will
Will Leitch writes for New York Magazine

Will Leitch writes for New York Magazine

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