Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |
There's no silver lining, not when another team is spraying champagne down the hall. It'll take some winter to get to the bright side for these Yankees after losing the AL Championship Series and that's OK.
They should let the sting settle in and fester a little. They failed to take advantage of two chances to eliminate the Astros. No matter how loaded with talent the Yankees are, and no matter how many of their lauded minor-leaguers are vying for high spots on the prospect lists, each trip to the postseason is precious because who the heck knows when the next one is coming.
Or what freak occurrence or hot pitcher could derail it when - if? - it does.
So use the pain. That's what Joe Girardi was getting at when he told the young, remarkable Yankees that the loss "really needs to be the motivating factor during the winter and spring training to get better," as he said in his postgame press conference.
"Because I believe this club can even get better."
He added: "I'm extremely proud of this group, what they've accomplished up to this point. But I think there's more. More. And that's the motivating factor."
Girardi is dead on about the Yanks, who are awash in high-end young players who we probably haven't seen the best from, plus talent from the minors trying to push its way into the spotlight. Don't forget all those glorious Yankeebucks they can spend to fill a hole on the free agent market, too. GM Brian Cashman has proven to be bold and creative in roster construction.
So as the ache of blowing a 3-2 series lead fades, the Yankees are in a terrific spot going forward, especially since their young stars got a big dose of October seasoning that can only help.
That's important because now the house money officially has been spent. Expectations are already multiplying. This year's Yankees did not face the crushing pressure of some other pinstriped teams because this was more about finding out about the Baby Bombers with fringy contention mostly a hope.
Could Aaron Judge really play? (Hot take: We could be looking at the Next Great Yankee). Gary Sanchez and Luis Severino had plenty to prove as their careers advanced and they did. We learned that Greg Bird, when healthy, is dynamite. The bullpen was a marvel.
The Yankees have upended the typical rebuild. Yes, the Yanks did not have to do a complete teardown, and they have more resources than anyone, but good luck to the general managers of bad teams who try to sell a "five-year plan" to their owners and fans now. Ha.
Still, for these Yankees, things are changing rapidly, even as they begin to unpack their breakthrough season. Even for a team well set-up, it will be a busy off-season.
Both Girardi and Cashman have expiring contracts. Masahiro Tanaka had an uneven season but a spectacular postseason - he was 2-1 with a 0.90 ERA and held opponents to a .145 average - and he could trigger an opt-out clause in his contract and become a free agent.
CC Sabathia is a free agent, though he made it clear to reporters after Game 7 that he wants to be back. The "Toddfather" - spiritual guru/third baseman Todd Frazier - is a free agent, too.
The outfield is crowded. How do they find room for Clint Frazier? Where does mega-prospect Gleyber Torres fit in next year? Maybe Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield offer rotation options. Not every prospect turns into a star, but the Yankees seem to have enough solid in-house inventory that some will help.
Meanwhile, the Yankees have some raw emotion to process after losing. Girardi noted he'd need some time to be able to reflect on his team's run, how it bloomed into something worth investing in at the trade deadline, and ultimately pushed the AL's real best team to the brink.
"I think right now it probably hurts too much to really think about that," Girardi said. "Maybe as you move forward and as the winter goes on, the excitement will be there about what this team accomplished.
"But, again, we fell short. And that's what hurts. There are a lot of days that go into a season and now we have to start over. And this club has to prove itself again."
There's plenty to dream on, though. Maybe enough that the Yankees seize the next precious postseason opportunity.