C.J. Nitkowski: ‘Astros Have Revolutionalized Way Teams Rebuild’

If you ask most baseball analysts, they’ll probably tell you that the New York Yankees had a good season. Very few people expected the Yankees to do much of anything this year, and they wound up hosting a Wild Card game – this after leading the AL East for the bulk of the season.

But after losing to the Astros, 3-0, in a one-game playoff Tuesday night, what do Yankees players think about their season? Would they consider it a success?

“No, absolutely not,” FOX Sports MLB analyst and CBS Eye on Baseball co-host C.J. Nitkowski said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “That’s strictly speaking from the player perspective and probably from the front office to some degree. Now the upside I think maybe for Brian Cashman is he made that decision not to move any of their good young players – (Luis) Severino, Greg Bird. There’s a couple other guys in the minor leagues they refused to part with to get the David Price or Johnny Cueto type. So from that standpoint, he understands that’s the decision that they made. He’s thinking long-term and he expects this team to be competitive over the next few years . . . without spending a ton of dollars on free agents. They’re not going to go just that route.

“But for the other guys waking up – the guys in uniform – it’s an awful feeling,” Nitkowski said. “Whenever it happens, if you’re not the last man standing, you’re disappointed in your year. Losing in the World Series last year for the Royals, we would say, ‘Man, what a huge accomplishment that is for them.’ And while they may give themselves a little bit of a pat on the back, that next day you’re still pretty bummed about the fact that you did not win. So I think for everybody but the last man standing, it’s always going to be a disappointment.”

The Astros, meanwhile, have to be elated. They will face the Royals in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday.

Not bad for a team that went 162-324 (.333) from 2011-2013.

“I said this a couple years ago,” Nitkowski said. “I said they’re either going to revolutionize how teams rebuild, or this whole thing’s going to blow up in their face – and I think they may have revolutionized the way teams rebuild. Which is you literally empty it out, you’re the worst team in baseball for a couple years, you get the first overall draft picks a couple of years – Carlos Correa was one of those guys – and then hopefully you hit on your draft picks. Mark Appel, the jury is still out on him, but that’s kind of the way that they did it. And then when they got close enough, they had the resources where they went out and they got Scott Kazmir, they got Carlos Gomez and they had no problem trading some of their pieces to do it. They spent a little bit of money in the winter.

“So they deserve to be credited because they did a really good job,” Nitkowski continued. “It was an interesting way of going about it. A lot of people didn’t love everything that they did. They’ve had some bumps along the way, but you can’t discredit them now. They’re in the postseason and they’re going to the ALDS. They did a really nice job.”

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