We won four out of the first five World Series. We got in six World
Series. Then all of a sudden the expectations became more than I could
deal with. What do I mean by that? I had a tough time telling my players
when we won a division title and got to the postseason that it wasn’t
good enough, that I was disappointed in them. I couldn’t do that because
I know how hard they worked. That’s where the contradiction was. We
know that expectations are always higher when you play for the Yankees,
but I couldn’t deliver the message if we didn’t win the World Series
that it was a disappointing year.
— Joe Torre, talking about his Yankees days with MLB.com.
I think that “we’re the Yankees and only championships are acceptable” stuff you hear all the time is largely P.R. these days. George Steinbrenner believed it when he ran the team, but — and I mean this in the most respectful way possible — George Steinbrenner is kind of a nut.
All professionals want to win, and the Yankees are no different than anyone else in this regard. But I seriously doubt that Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner believe that not winning the World Series is as mortal a sin as the Yankees’ hype-machine makes it out to be. They want to win, of course, they’re not happy when they lose, but like Joe Torre, they’re not going to tell their people that they were disappointed in them if they don’t win it all.
I think that whole “only championships are enough” business is something that the team found useful to perpetuate as the team was returning to glory in the 90s, and remains somewhat useful in that, no matter what happens with the Yankees, no one ever, ever questions the team’s motivations like so many other teams’ motivations are questioned.
But I bet, in an unguarded moment, Cashman and those guys would tell you that as an ethos, it’s kind of a pain to live up to for the very reasons Torre points out.
MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.
Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.
The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.
Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.
While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.
Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.
After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.
It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.
Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.
LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.
Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.