After getting swept in the League Championship Series last fall, the New York Yankees went into the off-season with a lot of work to do. Knowing Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter would likely be out until the middle of the season, they needed to make upgrades. They also needed to fill holes in the outfield and at catcher. However, they needed to do this on a budget, as ownership wanted to cut the team payroll to $189 million for the 2014 season, which limited their options and caused people to forget the likes of Josh Hamilton and Michael Bourn donning Pinstripes.
As a result, the Bronx Bombers went out and signed old foe Kevin Youkilis for a one year deal for $12 million. Instead of resigning Russell Martin, who signed a two year deal for $17 million with Pittsburgh, or bringing in A.J. Pierzynski or Mike Napoli to play catcher, they decided to go with journeyman Chris Stewart to be the primary starter with Francisco Cervelli and later rookie Austin Romine splitting time with him. In the outfield, they gave a 39 year old Ichiro Suzuki a two year deal for $13 million, and after Curtis Granderson’s injury in Spring Training, traded for Vernon Wells, owing him about $14 million total for this year and next. Yeah, even though they already stated they wanted to cut payroll, they went out and added more and in the form of awful, washed up players. Instead of adding cheaper but useful players like Nate Schierholtz or Mike Napoli that would help stick to this $189M plan but still help this team compete, they added expensive, old scrubs.
This spare parts strategy seemed to pay off, at least in the first two months of the 2013 season when they peaked at 30-18. Since then they are just 27-38, seven games out of a playoff spot. The offense is just atrocious, with only soon to be free agent Robinson Cano and perhaps Brett Gardner as the only reliable, above average players. The pitching besides Hiroki Kuroda and Mariano Rivera has also struggled in the last two and a half months, with even CC Sabathia having the worst season of his career. Derek Jeter looks like he can’t play everyday anymore, Mark Teixeira is another albatross contract and Alex Rodriguez is all over the news for the wrong reasons besides his poor play.
Clearly, after 19 seasons, 17 playoff appearances, 13 division titles, seven league pennants and five world championships, it’s time for the Yankees to rebuild, but thanks to this front office, particularly general manager Brian Cashman and owners Hank and Hal Steinbrenner the process will be even longer and very painful. For the next three years, they will have over $65 million invested in Rodriguez, Teixeira, and Sabathia, all looking the wrong side of 30. Unlike the 2008-2009 offseason, the Yankees’ last spending spree, the free agent market in the coming years will also be scarce, as many mid/small market clubs have locked up their stars, like Justin Verlander or Evan Longoria.
This would lead them to try to rebuild the way they did in the early 90s, through the minor league system. However, it is very dry at the moment with little talent ready for the big league level in the immediate future, as any legitimate prospects in the recent past were either traded (Jesus Montero) or otherwise ruined by the organization’s poor handlement (Joba Chamberlain, Dellin Betances).
Perhaps the biggest cause for the upcoming drought is this team’s inactivity at the trade deadline. Sure, they traded for Alfonso Soriano and got the Cubs to pay for the massive majority of his contract like the Angels did for Wells, but you’d think this would mean they are serious in trying to make a push for the playoffs this year and more moves would be coming, but they did nothing. They didn’t get a third baseman, as the Yankees are starving for offense there. They still have no catcher and no shortstop either.
With so many holes, a realistic and more wise option would have been to become sellers. To be free agents Cano and Kuroda could have gotten a mother-load of prospects if Cashman played his cards right. Remember who the Mets got for Carlos Beltran two years ago? That’s right. Zack Wheeler. Cano in his prime and healthy could have gotten even more than Beltran was worth. Now they will either lose him for nothing or give him a ridiculous contract. Teams hungry for back end starters like Atlanta or the Dodgers also could have given up something decent for Phil Hughes, also to be a free agent.
seems to be IS a total lack of direction in this organization. They seemed to have deceived the fans and the media into thinking they’re trying to put a winning product on the field but are doing it by simply adding has-been names and more albatross contracts, rather than doing it by replacing aged players with younger ones with enough talent to stick around and excel, at least enough to be apart of a future. They poorly equipped themselves for the season, perhaps on purpose. Instead, this team is old, washed up, and simply unwatchable.
Yes, a dry spell was going to happen sooner or later. But Cashman and the Steinbrenners blew several chances to rebuild on the fly and now, this team is headed for the abyss. For perhaps a long time. Get ready Yankee fans. It’s going to be painful.