For the longest time, the New York Yankees have been called the “Evil Empire” due to their financial clout and ability to sign any free agents of their choosing. A funny thing has happened in 2016 though; after seemingly punting on the season at the trade deadline, the Yankees have managed to not only stay in the Wild Card race, but are gaining momentum.
New York Yankees Youth Movement
With the trade deadline rapidly approaching last month, the Yankees executed a number of trades involving veterans Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, and Carlos Beltran. The players netted a handful of top 100 prospects, and the Yankees were finally looking to build up their farm system. On top of that, the team also released Alex Rodriguez and have begun to phase out veterans Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann.
The kids were finally going to get a chance to play.
Out With The Old In With The New
Of course the assumption was that with all the young prospects getting substantial playing time, the Yankees would fall out of the playoff race sooner rather than later. No fan base likes the word “rebuild” but the Yankees were embracing it head on, and for the most part, fans were on board.
Surprisingly instead of struggling, the Yankees have flourished. Since the deadline, the Yankees have a 21-13 record, which is the third best in the American League during that span. New York has gone from 5 ½ games out of a Wild Card spot to just 2 ½ games; and their being led by their youngsters.
Gary Sanchez set the world on fire when he debuted a month ago, and while not all the players have been as productive, contributions are coming from everywhere. Although they’ve struggled at times since getting called up, both Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge have had their moments. Luis Cessa has settled in nicely at the back of New York’s rotation. Even Luis Severino, who struggled mightily as a starter earlier this year, has found his groove in the bullpen.
Let’s not forget about some of the “older” guys that hold down the middle infield. Starlin Castro had an up and down first half, but has been locked in since the All-Star Break. Didi Gregorius has enjoyed a breakout season this year and may be the Yankees best everyday player at this point.
Did I mention that both of these grizzled veterans are just 26?
In fact on most days, the Yankees have five regulars in their lineup who are 26 or younger. How crazy is that? This is the same team that was trotting out Ruben Sierra as an everyday player back in the mid-2000s because they didn’t want to commit to a youth movement.
There is a lot of excitement in the Bronx this September, as the Yankees are not only playing young, talented players, but are in the thick of the playoff race. In all honesty, there are probably still too many teams the Yankees would have to leapfrog to make the playoffs, but the fact that there is meaningful baseball being played at this time of year is a big enough win.
Looks like the kids are alright.