Narratives die hard.
Quick: Who is the most impatient team in the majors?
The Yankees, of course.
Except, a case could be made that maybe they are the most patient. They certainly are on the short list.
They have had the same GM, Brian Cashman, for more than two decades. Aaron Boone is just their fourth manager since 1992. The Yanks stuck with Damon Oppenheimer through years of unfruitful drafts because they thought he was good at his job, and the rewards have been flowing in recent years.
The stereotype of the Yankees being as patient as a Tasmanian devil after a few Red Bulls was fostered by George Steinbrenner and his carousel of managers and GMs, and his near zero tolerance of player failure — in a game rooted in failure. The Boss’ influence lingered after his July 2010 death. Slowly, though, the organization became more and more reflective of Hal Steinbrenner — who, among other things, has an MBA and is a pilot, and is comfortable with data, setting a course and sticking to it.
Among other items, Steinbrenner insisted on steadily working toward a payroll that would fall under the luxury-tax threshold, which apparently will happen this year. After decades of throwing their wallet at problems, the Yankees had no other choice but to work with what they had — less expensive youngsters who often need patience to grow.
It has turned into one of the great blessings in organization history, coming at a time when young talent has never had greater collateral in the game.
This also ties into a period in which Cashman also has never been better at his job. He has constructed a decision-making balance with scouting, analytics, sports science, etc., that has the Yankees on an extended run of accumulating quality talent.
“Hal is wired in a certain way, so it stems from the top,” Cashman said. “I have evolved and grown over time. We have hired well and we have good people working here. At end of the day, leadership starts at the top — the dance step gets set by the ownership group. The singular answer is the Steinbrenner family wants to win and wants to win now, but Hal has set a tone of wanting payroll down and the system up, and he has allowed time to let that happen. When you get marching orders, your job is to execute the orders.”
The Yankees’ front office has done well in the draft, internationally, on the waiver wire and in trades big and small. But part of the success story also has been that when this version of the Yankees believes in talent, they have the patience to wait out growing pains or dips in performance.
“I don’t think patience is the right word,” Cashman said. “I call it discipline, not patience. We are very disciplined. We are not emotionally reactive. We try to make informed decisions and that takes time to, among other things, communicate with all departments and get the most accurate view of the landscape at the time and then try to apply it properly.”
Every current Yankees success story pretty much has endured a period when the outside noise of media/fans was screaming to trade the player, demote him or change his role.
But the Yankees stuck with Aaron Judge through his 2016 strikeout-apolooza. Would the 2006 Yanks have done that? Remember all the calls that same season to just leave Luis Severino in the bullpen, where he had thrived, rather than return him to the rotation, where he had been atrocious?
There have been so many narratives on Gary Sanchez they are hard to list in one column, but some big ones were that he was lazy, never going to be able to catch in the majors and not worth sticking with after he bombed having a major league job all but handed to him in spring 2016.
Didi Gregorius had those horrendous first six weeks in 2015, still in the large shadow of Derek Jeter. Miguel Andujar was never going to be able to field enough to stick in the majors.
Dellin Betances had to go after bridging a bad end to 2017 with a poor 2018 beginning. He is back as arguably the most imposing set-up man in the majors. The Yanks did not become discouraged with Jonathan Holder’s mediocre results in 2016-17 and have been rewarded in 2018 with elite performance.
Aaron Hicks was a waste of talent in 2016. How long are the Yankees sticking with Hicks, for example, shows up in my email quite often from Yankees fans. The answer is for a while. The same with Greg Bird, as the Yanks try to get through all the injuries to get to a bat they believe still is above average. The same with Sonny Gray, who the Yankees think can be a consistent, above-average starter.
This is an organization that took Domingo German and Austin Romine off their 40-man roster at some point, yet retained them and kept working with them, and both are augmenting a team with the best record in the majors. So, if the Yanks are willing to persist with German and Romine, let’s just say they are not going to give up on the 2017 NL MVP very quickly no matter what kind of strikeout totals Giancarlo Stanton has manufactured to date.
“In terms of our organization giving the proper time to see talent flourish, there are a number of cases when we waited on it and it never came,” Cashman said. “That is the nature of business. It is not all success stories. The way our game is set up and the way the game is truly played, you have to give talent time. Not all the guys you place bets on work out, but you still have to give it time.”
Does that sound like the motto of the most impatient organization in the majors?
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