By Sweeny Murti
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We all like to dream, and it’s easy this time of year. March, springtime, exhibition baseball … it’s all about dreaming.
I’ve said before that the magical part of this group of Yankees prospects is that you can dream on their potential because you truly don’t know what the ceiling is.
But March — all baseball people will tell you — is the hardest time to evaluate prospects. It’s different than the grind of a long season in real competition. And it’s harder still to predict repeated success year after year.
The message from Yankees fans is pretty clear. You are all excited about the future that you see in front of you. This March is different because you’re not only dreaming of the continued rise of Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, and Aaron Judge. You are also dreaming about Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, Dustin Fowler, Jorge Mateo, Justus Sheffield, and Chance Adams. There is this whole new group of young guns to get excited about, and you start to dream about the next fun summer, the next fun October, and the next Yankees dynasty. There are so many good players, what are you going to do with all of them?!?!?
Dream on, but don’t imagine they’ll all come true.
Okay, I stole that line from Billy Joel’s “Vienna.” But that line keeps coming back to me.
Because all these players won’t be part of the Yankees’ next world championship team. How many of them will be? Hard to say.
But I look back to the young Yankees stars of the early 1970s and realize that Bobby Murcer was traded for Bobby Bonds, who was then himself traded for championship pieces Mickey Rivers and Ed Figueroa. Ron Blomberg was a No. 1 overall draft pick and Murcer’s Sports Illustrated co-cover boy in 1973. His career was over by the time the Yankees were riding in ticker tape parades again.
I pulled the 1995 Yankees yearbook off my shelf Wednesday morning. That team had a win-now roster along with several Monument Park Yankees on the rise. You know who they are.
But also sprinkled into the narrative of the promising future were Russ Davis and Sterling Hitchcock (traded for Tino Martinez), Brian Buchanan (traded for Chuck Knoblauch), and Matt Drews (traded for Cecil Fielder).
Ruben Rivera was the best of the whole lot. He was traded for Hideki Irabu, and neither one ever lived up to the hype. Brien Taylor met a different kind of misfortune, an off-field injury that stole his 100-mph fastball.
The all-or-nothing future isn’t fair to think about for this current group, I get that. It’s just so hard to predict how high the bar is. And my fear is that we set the bar so high we won’t appreciate how good they can be or become.
It’s entirely possible Sanchez hits “only” 20-25 home runs this year and still has a very good season. It’s entirely possible Bird struggles against some lefties and spends the season platooned with Chris Carter. It doesn’t mean he’s doomed to be a part-time player his whole career.
Frazier and Torres might not make it to the majors this year, and that’s okay. If they do, they might struggle, and that’s okay, too.
Look, I’m guilty of it as well — we see a few good things from a player and we want to believe there are 15 years of highlights ahead. Sometimes you just have to be a little patient.
Slow down, you crazy child. You’re so ambitious for a juvenile.
Yes, I stole that from Billy Joel, too.
Follow Sweeny on Twitter at @YankeesWFAN