By Sweeny Murti
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Here are my Sweet 16 thoughts with Opening Day just one week away.
1) The Yankees are about to start the 2013 season with about $100 million in salary NOT contributing to the team.
Alex Rodriguez ($28 million), Mark Teixeira ($22.5 million) and Curtis Granderson ($15 million) will all definitely start the season on the disabled list. Add Derek Jeter ($17 million) and Phil Hughes ($7.15 million) as likely DL players, although both could be back as soon as Final Four weekend. Throw in Clay Rapada (less than $1 million), out maybe for the first two weeks, for accounting purposes. And add the $8 million that A.J. Burnett gets paid by the Yankees to pitch for Pittsburgh this year and the $1.5 million buyout of Rafael Soriano’s option that counts towards this year’s payroll number. It adds up to $100 million, or more than two-thirds of what MLB teams actually spent on payroll in 2012.
2) But when you spend more than $200 million, you buy the advantage of still being able to field a team that includes CC Sabathia ($23 million), Robinson Cano ($15 million), Hiroki Kuroda ($15 million), Andy Pettitte ($12 million), Kevin Youkilis ($12 million), Mariano Rivera ($10 million) and Ichiro Suzuki ($6.5 million). Not all are still in All-Star form, but not many teams are capable of filling holes this way.
3) The group that is still here is what, for me, separates this Yankees team from what most Yankees fans fear is coming — an under-.500 disaster. The last time that a Yankees team finished under .500 was in 1992 (76-86), and the best starter on that team was Melido Perez. The only Yankees All-Star in 1992 was Roberto Kelly. (Strangely there were 14 All-Stars that would play for the Yankees in the future). The 2013 Yankees are not the 1992 Yankees. Far from it, in fact. This team will have a tough year ahead. But they are holding better cards than they did in 1992.
4) Sabathia, Kuroda, and Pettitte are healthy. This is a HUGE part of what the Yankees needed this spring, regardless of any other injuries. Yes, there are questions regarding the durability of all three this year, but starting the season with all three healthy gives the Yankees a big edge.
5) Rivera is healthy. Enough said.