The World Series is upon us in a matter of days and the New York Yankees can learn from both the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox in building their team.
Today, I’ll examine the Cardinals and see if there are any familiarities. Tomorrow, I’ll compare both to the Red Sox.
The Cardinals’ way is to build with young pitching, something it will take the Yankees a long time to do. The Mets are trying to go that way but suffered a setback with the injury to Matt Harvey. The Yankees, of course, are still a win now franchise, so they won’t wait.
A look at St. Louis’ rotation shows the rotation highlighted by Adam Wainwright is homegrown. Wainwright was drafted by Atlanta, but traded as a minor league. He never pitched an inning for the Braves. A testament to how deep the Cardinals are is rookie 15-game winner Shelby Miller didn’t even pitch in the NLCS.
Both would love to have somebody like Miller in their rotation. Miller might even be the No. 1 starter for both.
The Cardinals have been highly protective of Michael Wacha, whose innings limit began on spring training and lasted through the season to the point of where he is ready for the playoffs without reservation.
Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Miller, Wacha and Joe Kelly have done all their pitching with the Cardinals and in their system.
With Matt Harvey out for the year, logically more would be demanded of Jon Niese – coming off a shoulder injury – and Zack Wheeler, who was scratched from his last start because of a stiff shoulder. But, the Mets must be careful as to not have another injury like Harvey’s. That Wheeler complained after his last start is alarming. The Mets are also looking at prospects Rafael Montero, Jacab deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.
Meanwhile, across town, C.C. Sabathia is ailing, Andy Pettitte retired and the Yankees are counting the days until Phil Hughes leaves. Currently, they are building with Ivan Nova and Hiroki Kuroda. The Yankees have a lot of work to do to do their rotation, and it would likely be done with spending.
The Yankees and Mets could find themselves in a bidding war for innings-eaters Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang.
The Yankees say they aren’t hoping for Alex Rodriguez to be suspended, but if he is that gives them flexibility to shop the market. That ability would be even more enhanced if they don’t re-sign Robinson Cano.
The Cardinals believe strongly in building up the middle, which is why they chose to keep Yadier Molina and say goodbye to Albert Pujols. One might have though Pujols would stay after the Cardinals won the World Series after the 2011 season.
The Mets are attempting to do the same with Travis d’Arnaud, who is a long way of becoming another Molina – any of them. While the Mets have a prospect, but the Yankees can’t be happy with the group of Chris Stewart, Austin Romine or John Murphy.
While the Mets now have a plan, they acknowledge they are building. The Yankees would never say as much and what they do in the offseason is largely dependent on Rodriguez and what they decide with Cano.
The Cardinals signed Matt Holliday, which was a gesture to Pujols of their intent to keep him and protect him in the lineup. The Cardinals built with prospects – a reflection of a strong scouting system and minor league system – with first baseman Allen Craig, who could be activated for the World Series; second baseman Matt Carpenter; third baseman David Freese; and outfielder Jon Jay.
This enabled them to add what they needed from the outside, notably right fielder Beltran and shortstop Rafael Furcal.
Complementing from the outside is what the Mets need to do and what the Yankees have always done. If the Mets remain intact, the best they can hope for is another 74 victories.
The Mets would jump at the Yankees’ 85-77 record, but the Yankees are looking to pick up at least five more victories to see the playoffs. They don’t have the inclination to build like the Cardinals, but must consider the similarities of Pujols and Cano.
Pujols’ best days were clearly behind him so they wouldn’t match the Angels, who are already regretting the signing.
Eschewing a monster contract like that gave the Cardinals considerable flexibility and without the fear of a cumbersome contract later.
The Mets made their long-term commitment to David Wright. The Cardinals said no to Pujols, and the Yankees might be wise by to say no to Cano.