With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Yankees squad each day this week. Today's topic: What's the vision?
Edgar Martinez doubled and Ken Griffey Jr. slid safely home to clinch the 1995 American League Division Series, allowing the Mariners to celebrate and sending the Yankees on a painful cross-country flight home. That heartbreak preceded a dynasty to come, and general manager Brian Cashman hopes something similar is about to transpire now.
Cashman says that he can see some parallels between his current roster and the Yankees teams of the mid-1990s, when a core of promising players joined a crew of experienced veterans at the big league level and turned a corner toward sustained years of winning.
"In the '90s, we were building toward something," Cashman said. "There was a Wild Card-making situation and we got knocked out, and then you continued to build on it and grow and add pieces to it. The next thing you know, you collapsed into a real unique situation."
Cashman senses that the fan base is ready to believe in that transition, and so the vision for the 2017 Yankees is to continue what started at the non-waiver Trade Deadline last season, when several stars were moved to contenders in an effort to jump-start a farm system that now ranks among the game's best.
The more youthful Yankees went 32-26 (.552) from Aug. 1 through the end of last season, remaining in the postseason chase until the final week. Cashman says that serves as "proof in the pudding" that as long as they stay healthy, the 2017 squad will be able to seriously chase an AL Wild Card berth at the least.
"I think we've got a great chance to compete in this division," Chase Headley said. "We certainly are younger, but we're extremely talented. These younger guys are very, very good players, and we also have a lot of veteran guys still who have had a lot of success in this league.
"The expectations don't change. My goal is to come to Spring Training and get us ready to go out and win the division, and then once you get in the tournament, the goal is to win the whole thing."
Any overview of the Yankees' plan must include a glimpse toward the monster offseason of 2018-19, when names like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper are due to enter free agency.
By then, A-Rod, CC Sabathia, Brett Gardner, Headley and perhaps Masahiro Tanaka will be cleared from the payroll, giving the Yankees spending power to pursue those stars at what could be a wild Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. For the moment, they are happy to see if some of their future answers are already in the organization.
"At the end of the day, we are going to be in a position to do a number of things," Cashman said, "Maybe we can turn the clock back to be the big-game hunters that we have been accustomed to being."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.