FIFTY THOUSAND MOONS
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Posted by el duque at 8:09 AM
As Hal spoke, the Cardinals, Tigers, As and Rays - franchises that win year after year on far less than the Yankees spend - were still playing baseball. Some teams know how to build. The Yankees don't. Ah, but I'm just saying what everybody already knows, eh? Sorry about that.
Yesterday, The Hal Mary stressed that he's having second thoughts about cutting payroll to that infamous $189 million figure - you know, the budget number that drove all the team's decisions last winter. It was the reason we passed on Russell Martin: No multi-year deals. (Although Hal gave one to Ichiro anyway; we can discuss that for the next 12 happy months.) It's the reason we signed Kevin Youkilis: He took a one-year. It's the reason we traded for Vernon Wells: The Angels pay his salary next year. It's the reason we settled on Travis Hafner: One year. Brennan Bosch. Ben Francisco. One year deals.
We sacrificed 2013 to get within striking distance of a $189 million budget - and now the owner says he's not committed to it..
Well, isn't that nice?
So, now we're going to run out and sign free agents to five-year deals? Because the pickings this winter are slim. Or will we bundle up our few young prospects - who right now are at their lowest market value - and trade for a new Grandyman? Smart teams - see above - deal their Grandersons before they decline in value. Stupid teams - see here - trade for stars whose best days are behind them.
OK, hypocrisy check: For the last 11 months, I've taken batting practice on the Steinbrothers by defining their $189 million budget target in terms of new boathouses for their servants. I believed it was ridiculous to run the New York Yankees like a soup kitchen. The team lost fans, YES viewers and the Big Apple zeitgeist - which it's had for nearly two decades, thanks to the hapless Mets. But there was logic to reaching $189 million: The team could escape those astronomical luxury taxes established by Commissar Bud Zelig. If you viewed 2013 as sort of a rebuilding year - frankly, we didn't rebuild much - you could almost rationalize the cuts. But now, having done it, we're throwing the plan overboard?
Listen: The Yankees need young players. It's that simple. We can't buy our way out of old age. Help must come from the system. This year, our best prospects tanked - every one. But we have no choice other than stick with them, buy young international talent, and wait for some kids to emerge. They are 20 and 21. Somebody will turn it around. That's what prospects do. If we trade a bunch for Rick Rhoden, we could be in the dregs for six to 10 years. We will watch the Yankee brand become a punch line. We may be approaching an event threshold for collapse. It's happened in the past. Three years of Eric Bedard will not save us.
One last thing: The reason the Yankees stayed in the Wild Card race until the last week of the season was not a heroic, plucky bunch of players. It was the dilution of talent in a system that lets lame teams chase one more empty slot.
The fact is, the Rangers, Rays, Orioles and Indians in the last month took turns falling apart. On Sept. 13, the Yankees were totally in the Wild Card race. All they had to do was win some games. Over the next 12, they went 3 and 9. Three and nine. They won the final three games against Houston - and who the hell cared? If Hal is so proud of his team for fighting - well - one got thrown out at 2B because he stood and watched a fly ball at home plate, thinking it was a home run, and another, in a must-game situation, was jogging out grounders to first, because that's his signature style of play. Pride of the Yankees? Not this year. Ah - dammit, once again, I'm only telling you what you already know. Sorry.