Brian Cashman has been saying "The Yankees need to get younger and more athletic" for several years now.
Since 2005 he has been slowly re-molding the machine, re-invigorating the farm system and retooling the roster to fit his championship vision.
For 2 seasons we've watched the Eli Whitney approach to roster construction. Cash and Joe Girardi swapped out relievers like Edwar Ramirez, David Robertson, Jose Veras, Jon Albaledejo, and Billy Traber as they were overworked or ineffective. Shelley Duncan, Alberto Gonzalez, Cody Ransom, Francisco Cervelli, Ramiro Pena and Juan Miranda have all made their cases for spots on the bench as they were needed.
From down on the farm, Brett Gardner has pushed his way into the everyday lineup, at least equal to Melky Cabrera, and while Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain have struggled as major league starters, their development is something the Yankees haven't seen in a decade.
Meanwhile, the Royals are paying more to Kyle Farnsworth than all those players will earn combined.
All of these are the periphreal moves that (I believe) make championships possible- built around a core that finally includes several quality starters.
But I think the important moment of the season came in June when Cashman made a visit to the team before a game against the Braves.
Joe G. was going through the season mechanically pencilling in Arod at third, and Cash had to step in and lay down the law (as he did with Torre and the Joba Rules).
Arod came alive after that because he started getting the regular rest the doctors had ordered. He hit .322/.421/.572 the rest of the season. And the team came alive with Arod, riding a hot streak that carried them from 5 games back in Atlanta to tied for first within 2 weeks and uncatchable by the end of July.
Cash has a huge budget to work with and the largest (and most demanding) fan base in baseball, but resources are only valuable if they are deployed wisely. He's been doing that better and better since he restructured the organization, and now he's clearly added solid leadership to his bag of tricks.
The Yankees are in good hands.