In Building Up, Knicks and Yanks Go Their Separate Ways

By: Alan Levy

We’re so shortsighted or too distracted as fans to see what’s directly in front of us, and we’re always looking for the next big thing.  So let’s spend the summer  . . . giving all our attention to NBA free agency!  New York fans have been getting a front row seat to team building on several levels for several teams.

The “Melo-drama” (sorry about that) which was pretense for Carmelo Anthony getting a max contract in the neighborhood of $120 million for five years from the Knicks is only worth paying attention to if your baseball was doing nothing (Hello, New York fans!) or you don’t have a beach house.   Phil Jackson’s master plan started with the acquisition of Jose Calderon and Samuel Dalembert, drafting Cleanthony Early, developing Tim Hardaway Jr. and signing Anthony as the centerpiece.  As a Knick fan, you have to ask the next question – how does this make you a contender?

It’s been 42 years since the Knicks last won an NBA championship.  Three eras of basketball – (Kareem, Magic and Bird, and Jordan) that have blown by with the Knicks only seriously contending in about four of those seasons.  Even in 1999, the last time they were in the finals, they were the eight seed and constant overachievers – but not really contenders. Phil is betting on these kids to develop and for Melo to provide the leadership (which he has never demonstrated).  While I’m sure Phil would like to add another free agent body (Buenos Dias Sr. Gasol), salary cap limitations look like they will force the Knicks to develop a team internally.  It’s a gamble, but at least it’s a strategy.

The Knicks issues compare favorably to what is facing the Yankees.  As the Yanks progress from the Core Four to Sore Four (my new nickname for their “starting” pitching staff),they are forced to revise their team building strategy.  In spite of a lack of salary cap, it’s practically impossible to build an effective baseball team through free agency.  Baseball general managers have shifted tactics to locking up younger players at the first sign of success, buying out their arbitration and early free agency years.

In the past, the Yankees would sit and wait for players to become eligible.  Now their patience is netting them a beat-up Brian McCann; a game, but inconsistent Jacoby Ellsbury; and a used-up Carlos Beltran.  There are no pitchers to be had as stars like Kershaw, Cueto and Hernandez are locked up through their prime years and others like Wainwright and Verlander are getting on in years (despite Wainwright’s outstanding success this year, he is 32 years old).

Do the Yankees become sellers as they approach the trade deadline?   Since they’re only five games out and in a weak division, I think they will double-down and become buyers.  The trouble is, there’s not much left to bargain with.  Any young, pro-ready talent would already be up with the team (sit down, Yangervis) and some highly touted talent has not panned out (I’m looking at you Mason Williams and Manny Banuelos). With all the papers talking up Rob Refsnyder in the last month, we’ll sit back and watch if he becomes the next core star.   There’s no chance that Tampa will trade David Price to the Yanks and that’s not necessarily where the problem lies.  They need an everyday player to be the main cog in their lineup.  A centerpiece.  You know – a Carmelo Anthony.

Just Sayin’

I just paid for two of my Fantasy Football leagues – so its time to study!

With Tanaka-san on the shelf, it would be nice if Shane Greene turned out to be the real thing and not a tease (like Chase Whitely).

As a sports fan, the last three months have been riveting between the Stanley Cup playoffs and World Cup.  But now it’s time to dedicate myself to catching up on the TV I’ve missed.

I can’t recall a year where so many baseball players have been hurt.  It seems like I’m reading about some out for weeks and months every day.  Yadier Molina, Brandon Phillips, Tanaka – when did these guys become so fragile?