Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Yankees day care: Do the Steinbrenners have the patience for these youngsters?

TAMPA — Under construction.

It's hard to tell which is undergoing the more major renovation, Steinbrenner Field or the Steinbrenner Yankees.

Hard hats are swarming New York's spring training home, performing a $40-million makeover. You can't swing a tool belt without hitting men at work. Now if only they could tear down the remaining four years on Jacoby Ellsbury's contract ...

But behold the other work crew, those kids with the bats and balls and gloves, the new wave — the Baby Bombers — at George M.'s stadium and at the Yankees' Himes Avenue complex.

"We haven't been this young in a long time, probably since maybe 1996," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

"This feels different," Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner told media.

Meet the new Yankees, the profoundly younger Yankees, the Yankees as we haven't seen them in decades. You might indeed need to set the wayback machine for 1996, which would suit the Yankees fine, harkening to the birth of the "Core Four" — Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada — who helped make a Tyrannosaurus run of postseasons and championships.

Let's not get ahead of things here.

Baby steps.

But it's about time the Yankees took a step back to move forward.

Fennelly: Heartbreak over Miami

Will it last?

Can the Yankees possibly have the patience to run a day care?

For now, it stands as pinstriped reality. Mark Teixeira has retired. Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann have been traded. CC Sabathia and his fat contract are done after this season. Alex Rodriguez retired, too, though he'll be at spring training as the world's highest paid special advisor and instructor, as he is still owed $21 million. That's a lot of fungoes to hit.

The future, shiny and bright, the paint still drying, is everywhere with these Yankees. It rides with kids like 24-year-old catching and hitting sensation Gary Sanchez, who dazzled with 20 home runs in 53 games in 2016. It's young talent like first baseman Greg Bird and 6-foot-7 outfielder Aaron "So-Called" Judge. That is not really Judge's nickname, but wouldn't it be great if it was?

The Yankees haven't won a playoff game since 2012. So it's time to try something new. Last season at the trade deadline, the Yankees were sellers, not buyers. GM Brian Cashman filled the farm system with treasure.

Let's not get carried away. New York isn't paying guys in beaver pelts. The payroll is still more than $200 million. The Yankees brought back million-mph closer Aroldis Chapman (five years, $86 million) and signed Matt Holliday (one year, $16 million) to DH.

But when New York traded Chapman to Chicago last season, it received, among others, 20-year shortstop Gleyber Torres, one of the top prospects in baseball. When Miller was traded, he fetched outfielder Clint Frazier and pitcher Justus Sheffield, two more promising prospects.

"I think there's a lot of talent in this room," Girardi said. "I think these kids can do a lot. I think they can help a lot. And, again, there's more coming."

But will they produce? That's the question. You know, along with the starting rotation.

More from Martin Fennelly

Girardi said, "I think about '96 and it was kind of the year that Jete and Mo burst on the scene, but Mr. Posada was coming and started to become a huge impact in '97 and I feel that that's kind of what we have here, young players that have a chance to have a huge impact at different positions ..."

This team is so young, and that concept is so new to the Yankees, that for the first time the mighty club organized an offseason getting-to-know-you caravan through New York City to help introduce some of the new wave to fans. Among those on the trip to the big city and skyscraper canyons was Justus Sheffield, all of 20. He's a left-handed pitcher from Tullahoma, Tenn.

"I have a cornfield in my backyard," Sheffield said with a grin.

Here are the kids, coming out of the cornfield.

Still, I wouldn't be surprised if the Yankees went back to being the Yankees after this season, when superstars like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado hit free agency. The Yankees might not to be able to help themselves. Or maybe they will.

Guess it depends on the story the Baby Bombers build.

Under construction.

Contact Martin Fennelly at mfennelly@tampabay.com or (813) 731-8029. Follow @mjfennelly.

Yankees day care: Do the Steinbrenners have the patience for these youngsters? 02/16/17 [Last modified: Friday, February 17, 2017 1:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred moves closer to wanting a decision on Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred called Wednesday for urgency from Tampa Bay area government leaders to prioritize and move quicker on plans for a new Rays stadium.

    MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred talks with reporters at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    The Austin Pruitt experiment might be over, or at least be put on pause. After allowing six runs over seven innings to Seattle on Friday, the rookie didn't get through the fourth Wednesday, giving up five runs on four homers. ERA for past six starts: 5.29.

  3. Rays journal: Homer-happiness returns against Blue Jays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays are back to hitting home runs, which was the norm of the offense for much of the season before the offense went cold.

    Adeiny Hechavarria greets teammate Kevin Kiermaier after his home run during the third inning at the Trop.
  4. Jones: Stop talking and start building a new Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was good to see Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred at Tropicana Field on Wednesday, talking Rays baseball and the hope for a new stadium somewhere in Tampa Bay.

    Commissioner Rob Manfred is popular with the media on a visit to Tropicana Field.
  5. Rays vs. Blue Jays, 1:10 p.m. Thursday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Today: vs. Blue Jays

    1:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)