Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Yankees Officially Not Getting Under Payroll

With Tanaka agreeing to terms on a 7 year $155 million deal, the Yankees have officially committed to not getting under payroll, and not just this year, but for years to come.  Some of the biggest contracts on the team: Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran, all share something in common besides their hefty price tag.  They all have no trade clauses written into them.  So these guys are going to be the face of this team for a while, and for me, I'm having trouble really supporting this idea.  The Yankees don't seem to have a long term team building strategy, and their short term team building strategy basically ensures that we won't be building from within.

What's funny about this whole Tanaka signing to me, is what our old friend Hank Steinbrenner had to say:  “Anybody that questioned our commitment to winning is going to have to question themselves.” (Source).  I don't quite remember the Yankees commitment to winning being a big part of the dialogue about the Yankees this off season.  What I do remember being questioned is whether the people running the Yankees knew how to build a team, and whether they could commit to a team building strategy that focused on player development and signing the right players as opposed to the expensive ones.  A strategy that would set the Yankees up not just for this year, but for years to come.  We've basically signed 3 guys on the declining part of their careers, and paid huge money to do so.  In other words, we've done nothing different than we have in the past. 

The Tanaka signing may end up proving to be their smartest signing of the off season.  If it wasn't coming on the heels of over paying for Ellsbury, McCann and Beltran, while losing Cano, it might look even smarter.  When we had guys like Mo, Pettitte and Jeter on the team, these sorts of deals were no problem.  But when you're down to just Jeter, and you sign all these guys, you basically change the presentation of who the Yankees are.  We like our homegrown guys, and not having impact players who are homegrown is going to wear on fans.  At some point, it doesn't feel like you're watching the New York Yankees anymore.

Despite this, there are some positives about this season.  Watching Jeter in what could be his walk year will certainly be a treat, but I'm also excited to see one particular homegrown Yankee play this season: Alfonso Soriano.  He was a clutch bat in a wasteland of an offense last season, and seemed to really turn his season around.  He could pull an Ichiro and return to his less than stellar form, but here's hoping that we can get Soriano the championship he never won, since we decided to trade him for that homerun hitting, MVP-caliber player who has totally worked out for us.  Totally.


Rich Mahogany said...

Thanks to those no trade clauses, you will have many years to get used to this team. If they win, you will grow to love this ragtag bunch of millionaires in their 30s. If they don't, this will be one of the most awkward assemblages of players in recent memory.

My rough ranking of the Yankees' new player deals from best to worst:

Tanaka - it says something that the Yankees had to look outside this country to find a good player who is under 30. Unless the Yankees are completely wrong about how Tanaka will perform in MLB, his deal is fair when compared to other young aces, and the Yankees don't have any young aces of their own.

McCann - the Yankees had absolutely nothing at catcher, and now they have a very good catcher who is not all that old.

Ellsbury - this deal is a wild card because we don't know whether Ellsbury is injury prone or just unlucky. But it's very unlikely to be a bargain, and fairly likely to become an albatross or at least a huge overpay. It's also a strange deal because Gardner is a similar player who comes at a fraction of the price.

Beltran - The corner OF spots are where the Yankees should be cobbling together options, not overpaying past-their-prime guys. The Yankees should have learned this with Ichiro and Wells (at least they got a deal on Wells) but instead spent the money they should have allocated to a decent 2B or 3B option to a 37-year old RF with bad knees.

Fernando Alejandro said...

I agree with everything you say except but you forget one very important thing: Beltran's knees were surgically ninjas.