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New York Yankees 2017 season preview: Rebuilding with youngsters

By
Larry Fleisher, The Sports Xchange
New York Yankees Aroldis Chapman throws a pitch in the rain in the 9th inning against the Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium in New York City on June 27, 2016. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
New York Yankees Aroldis Chapman throws a pitch in the rain in the 9th inning against the Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium in New York City on June 27, 2016. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

It was a quiet offseason for the New York Yankees, unless you consider all the talk about young players in the minor leagues who are on the verge of making the majors to be noise.

For the Yankees, they're hoping the talk eventually leads to positive results for a team that has grown stale and boring to many fans. It has been nearly five years without a playoff victory and the old way of doing business -- signing veteran free agents to lengthy contracts -- is a thing of the past for now.

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"I'm optimistic about this season, because I think there's a good mixture and there's a lot of talent in that room," manager Joe Girardi said. "Sometimes with young players you have to manage how they handle certain situations, whether it's struggling for a couple of weeks and how they respond, but we're up for that task. I think we have good veteran leadership in there that will help the young players through that."

Last year, the Yankees stumbled to a 9-17 mark, hovered around .500 leading into the non-waiver trade deadline. It could turn out to be one of the best things to happen to the Yankees since it accelerated a rebuilding program.

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By the end of July, the Yankees decided to pull the plug, getting Gleyber Torres from the Chicago Cubs for Aroldis Chapman, acquiring Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield from the Cleveland Indians for Andrew Miller and other highly touted prospects from the Texas Rangers for Carlos Beltran

Shortly after shedding three of their most productive veterans, the Yankees called up catcher Gary Sanchez. Sanchez struggled during spring training last season but electrified the Yankees so much that they climbed back into wild-card contention.

To review, Sanchez hit 20 home runs, drove in 42 runs and produced an OPS of 1.032 in only 53 games. He was so productive that some thought he could have won Rookie of the Year, an award he finished second in the voting to Detroit Tigers' right-hander Michael Fulmer.

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Sanchez will be joined by another player, who produced in a similar matter in 2015. Greg Bird hit 11 home runs in 178 at-bats and was scheduled to be now-retired Mark Teixeira's backup before injuring his shoulder.

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Now he is the regular first baseman and putting on a power show in spring training.

Sanchez and Bird are part of a team in the midst of completing a transition from veterans to youngsters.

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There are still plenty of veterans but the real interest lies in seeing how the youth movement unfolds and combines with the goal of staying in contention.

The Yankees may miss the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons but if a youth movement goes according to plan, postseason games could return to the Bronx sometime soon.

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