Today at the SportsZone we welcome guest writer George Murphy, another Mount St Mary alumni, as he looks at how the Yankee Dynasty was built, and how it has ended.

On July 30, 1990 George Steinbrenner was permanently banned from day to day management of the New York Yankees—- This day in Yankee history was in reality the birthplace of their eventual dynasty from the mid-1990’s until the early 2000’s. The Yankees, for a decade, were the pinnacle of superiority in how an organization should be run. For anyone born in the mid 1980’s or later, the only thing they know, is winning.

Following Steinbrenner’s suspension, the Yankees changed gears. From the late 1970’s and all of the 1980’s, the Yankees re-wrote the book on free agency, how it was handled, and player salaries. In 1990 the Yankee’s, led by Gene Michael and Buck Showalter, drafted Derek Jeter (1992) in the first round, Jorge Posada (1990) in the twenty-fourth round, Andy Pettite (1990) in the twenty-second round. The Yankees also were very vigorous with Latin American scouting and internationally signed Bernie Williams (1985), Mariano Rivera (1990).

These five players, were the core that the Yankees built themselves around. They then added in defense and experience, players whom did the little things. Wade Boggs, Charlie Hayes, Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, Joe Girardi, and Scott Brosius. A pitching staff of elite hurlers in David Cone, David Wells, Jimmy Key, Dwight Gooden, and Orlando Hernandez.
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This is how the Yankees were built to last. Solid arms, solid defense, and enough offense (built towards on-base percentage) to win. Then “the Boss” came back into form. And he started spending as he did in the 70’s and 80’s. Jason Giambi (7 years/$120 million), Mike Mussina (6 years/$88.5 million), Carl Pavano (4 years/$40 million), Jaret Wright (3 years/$21 million), Hideki Matsui (3 years/$21 million), Johnny Damon (4 years/$52 million) and Gary Sheffield (3 years/$39 million). Trading for Roger Clemens (1999), David Justice (2000), Robin Ventura (2002), Javier Vazquez and Kevin Brown (December 2003), and Randy Johnson (2005).

The Yankees continually fielded a perpetual line up of all-stars, all serendipitously causing fans to be overjoyed with every new signing. Every free agency seemed like an arms race with the Yankees trying to catch the Red Sox, and out-duel their ‘little brother’.

The downfall of the Yankee dynasty, some may say came after Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, where a bloop single over the head of a drawn in infield by Luis Gonzalez off of Mariano Rivera, lead to the Diamondbacks upsetting the favored Yankees.

The Yankees beat the Red Sox with a home run in extra innings in Game 7 of the ALCS, off of the bat of Aaron Boone – to again thrust them into the Fall Classic in 2003, yet they lost the Series, again. This time to the upstart (and since vanished) Florida (Miami) Marlins. The Yankees only had five prospects from 2000 until 2007 make an impact on a Major League level, Chien-Meng Wang (whose career has been derailed since a 2009 injury), Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain (with Hughes inconsistencies and the ill-fabled “Joba Rules” that came with them), plus Alfonso Soriano and Robinson Cano – both second baseman. The Yankees continuously leaned towards long term, expensive contracts and traded away their youth and prospects to other organizations. Players like Austin Jackson (2009 to Detroit), Ian Kennedy (2009 to Arizona), Melky Cabrera (2009 to Atlanta), Tyler Clippard (2007 to Washington), Mark Melancon (2010 to Houston, and Mike Lowell (1999 to Florida).

Others would say that the climax of the Yankee downfall happened in 2004, when the Boston Red Sox, reversed the Curse of the Bambino, when down 3 – 0 in the American League Championship Series – the “Idiots” came back and defeated the Yankees, in Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees did come back in 2009 to win a World Series, the first year in their new stadium. To do this, the Yankees went back to their spending ways – CC Sabathia (7 years/$161 million), A.J. Burnett (5 years/$82.5 million) and Mark Teixeira (8 years/$180 million). This team had an interesting combination of hold overs from the dynasty in Jeter, Posada, Rivera and Pettite. Mixed in with the free agents, Burnett, Sabathia, Teixeira, and Damon, plus the acquired talent of Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez, who became Reggie Jackson, part 2 that postseason. But most importantly we started to see more influx of home built youth as Cano, Gardner, David Robertson, Alfredo Aceves, Hughes and Chamberlain all contributed that season.
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Last year was a culmination of 12 years of over-spending without having the solid foundation the Yankees had in the early 90s. Injuries, suspensions, old-age, and no farm system to call on the stop the bleeding momentarily. Youngsters David Adams, Vidal Nuno, and Zolio Almonte played roles last season, and they got meaningful production from a collection of veteran castaways (Mark Reynolds, Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay, and a returning Alfonso Soriano to name a few), but with those cracks exposed and their Minor Leagues in disarray after years of ineffectiveness, the Yankees returned to their spending ways, overpaying for Jacoby Ellsbury (7 years/$153 million), Masahiro Tanaka (7 years/$155 million), Brian McCann (5 years/$85 million) and Carlos Beltran (3 years/$45 million), while actually showing restraint after they drew a line in the sand with Cano (a $175 million line), and didn’t cross it, even after the Seattle Mariners went well beyond that line.

This year the Yankees have the 23rd best farm system as ranked by Baseball Prospectus (https://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=22906).

The Yankees will not win again until they grow their own players. It is understandable that they want to continue to win and put on a product for their fans. But their fans don’t always understand that to win in baseball – you must continue to cultivate your own talent like the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox, whom continually develop and ciphon in their own home grown players, in addition to supplementing that talent with the right mix of free agency and trade additions. This is the Downfall of the Empire.

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