By Jason Keidel
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Many New Yorkers – including yours truly – were simpatico on Robinson Cano.
Despite his undeniable athletic splendor, production, and durability, he wasn’t worth 10 years and $240 million. Seattle overspent for the sublime second basement and, according to an article on this site, they may have done so at the expense of the rest of their team, exhausting their payroll on one player.
And if this were part of a new fiscal mantra, we could follow the Yankees’ logic. But if Cano were based on principle or principal, why then blow $150 million on Jacoby Ellsbury? Was another team going to come within $40 million of the Yankees’ offer to the oft-injured outfielder? Probably not.
The Yankees, despite Hal Steinbrenner’s assertions of newfound frugality, went on the very monetary orgy they vowed to quit.
The Brian McCann signing was facile and fruitful. A no-brainer. But Carlos Beltran? Again, the Yankees were dueling with whom when they summoned another $45 million for a veritable geriatric? The Royals? That’s the team Beltran said he came within a whisker of rejoining. Were the Royals going to even top $30 million?
Does anyone see Beltran starting as many as 50 games in the third year of this contract, when he will be approaching 40?
If Ellsbury and Beltran were instead of Cano, no thanks. That’s $200 million on two variables, one young enough but brittle, the other old and creaky and living on his reputation as the best playoff batter in baseball. Of course, many Mets fans recall the reverse. A certain curveball from a Cardinal in Game 7. In fairness, it was a perfect pitch, which not even Ted Williams could have hit.
The Yankees are sending mixed messages. They want to be fiscally responsible, then overpay for two players, then give up on their best player. They want pitching but haven’t signed any free agent starters. They lusted for the Japanese ace, until they didn’t. Considering how they fare with Far East pitchers – Kei Igawa and Hideki Irabu, anyone? — perhaps pulling out of that derby was wise.
They need a closer and kinda like David Robertson but won’t anoint him. He’s got closer’s stuff. Sure, Rolaids cuts both ways with Robertson, who gives you indigestion with two leadoff walks before soothing your stomach with two strikeouts. But anyone who enters the ninth inning next year is filling the biggest chasm ever left on a diamond. Mariano is gone. Only the street now bearing his name remains.
This all feels like the dubious business model that made the Yankees the Evil Empire to begin with, spending wildly and recklessly and pointlessly.
Look at this team objectively, and it doesn’t look so encouraging.
Derek Jeter is 39, an age not befitting a shortstop, and returning from a twice-snapped ankle. Alex Rodriguez is also chronologically challenged, is facing a colossal suspension, and is clearly unwanted by his bosses.
Cano is gone, leaving an amalgam of “has-beens” and “have-nots” filling the chasmal void. Mark Teixeira is slowing down, and has some bizarre tear in a sheet in his wrist, as if any of us even understands what that is. No matter, we probably can’t expect his template .290 BA, 35 HR, 130 RBI anymore. Maybe he can bag another Gold Glove. Maybe.
Alfonso Soriano, who had a divine return to pinstripes, is also over 35 and can’t play any position with any alacrity. Ichiro is no longer Ichiban, and is more or less a .270 hitter with no power and greatly diminished speed. Brett Gardner is probably the most eclectic and electric talent on the team, but he too can’t shake the injury bug.
Ellsbury replaces Curtis Granderson, which should be an upgrade should Ellsbury no longer have his mail forwarded to the DL. McCann is a slam-dunk at catcher over the conga line of stiffs they’ve started since inexplicably letting Russell Martin walk.
What in A.J. Burnett’s name is the rotation gonna look like? CC Sabathia looks like he’s thrown one inning too many, with his fastball dropping ample mph last year. Hiroki Kuroda is closing in on 40, and completely collapsed after August last year. Why would this year be better?
Michael Pineda, the crown jewel of Cashman’s pitching vision, hasn’t hurled one strike in anger in the two years he’s been here. Ivan Nova is vocationally schizophrenic, an ace one start, Steve Trout the next. Pettitte is gone. Hughes is gone. Bartolo Colon was available, but they let the METS get him after winning 18 games in the AL last year.
The bullpen, always Joe Girardi’s finest managerial canvas, is missing Mariano, but G.I. Joe will improvise.
Top to bottom, the Yankees, as always, look a little too old and way too expensive. They appear to be a bunch of disparate parts cobbled together in a hurry to make a deadline – much like the new ballpark, which has been an eyesore from the start. Why mess with a good thing? The Yankees have been doing that since they essentially fired Joe Torre.
You may not recognize the new team, but you’ll probably recognize the result: just short of 90 wins, just short of the playoffs, way short of expectations.
Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel
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