With the Houston Astros losing George Springer to the Toronto Blue Jays, I got to wondering if these two franchises are about to swap spots in the baseball hierarchy.
The Blue Jays are now doing what the Astros did over the last decade. They are supplementing homegrown talent with the right free agents. Toronto now looks as if they are going to have a chance to create a nice little run. Houston gave themselves that chance, but is their window closing?
But what I’ve been thinking about even more-so is, will the Yankees dynasty ever come to an end?
Of course, this isn’t the same franchise it was in the mid-late ’90s, and some will argue this current iteration of the franchise isn’t a dynasty—having not won a World Series title since 2009. But the Yankees currently have the second-longest streak of consecutive winning seasons in baseball history. The last season the Yankees lost more games than they won was 1992. The only streak longer was the Yankees from 1926-1964.
Baseball is a different game than it was from that era, however, and is even different from when the Core Four was winning championships in the Bronx. Baseball might be in its most competitive era to date. Most franchises have the resources and knowledge to be able to make a World Series run.
Most franchises go through waves, so to speak. Where they have to hit rock bottom for sometime before they can reach the pinnacle of success again. Some teams have longer terms in between success or shorter windows to win, but most come back up to the top at some point.
A team like the Kansas City Royals, for example, had a window of about four or five years of championship-caliber baseball in the last decade. On the flip side, over the last 27 seasons, the Yankees have had a championship-caliber team in all but about four or five seasons.
As Yankee fans, we’ve come to expect more than just a winning record, however. The last 11 seasons can be considered failures because the team didn’t win, or even make, a World Series. But no other franchise in baseball has that kind of expectation from their team. There isn’t a North American sports team with the expectations of the Yankees. Not the Patriots, not the Spurs, not the Red Wings.
Even if you don’t consider this to be a time of dynasty for the Yankees, the question still stands, how long can they go on as one of the best teams in the sport? The Royals didn’t have enough money to pay their best players and their farm system took a hit with some trades. The Astros has the 5th highest payroll in 2020, according to Spotrac, but have two aging aces and two star players that will command money around or greater than what Springer just received. They have a couple of budding stars and an OK farm system, but they may be heading into a cycle where they aren’t considered one of the best teams in baseball after winning a title in 2017.
The Washington Nationals had been one of the better teams in baseball for almost a decade before 2020, culminating in a World Series win in 2019, but they also missed the playoffs three times between ’13-’18. Now they have an aging ace, a payroll they aren’t happy with and a bad farm system.
Even the two teams most like the Yankees in tradition and payroll, the Red Sox and Dodgers, can’t boast the longevity of this Yankee dynasty. The Red Sox have just as many 5th place AL East finishes over the last 10 years as they have AL East titles. The Dodgers are the one team that comes close to what the Yankees have been able to do, winning eight straight NL West division titles, and finally a World Series in 2020. But they had issues with money and ownership before this most recent purchase.
So, is that what it will take for this Yankees run to come to a close? A change in ownership? We’ve all learned money doesn’t win championships but is that the main thing keeping the Yankees near the top of the baseball world? Or is it the front office? Brian Cashman is loved and hated by Yankee fans, but he’s been in charge of the talent the Yankees acquire for much of this run.
What if it is the fans that keep this team going at its best? A fanbase that isn’t happy with 27 consecutive winning seasons but demands rings. Whatever it may be, it doesn’t look like the sun will set for this franchise for a while. They still have talent, money, a good farm system and a way of working the international market.