So, today, first and foremost, Ripcord understands that, if the Yankees fail to make the 2014 post-season, he might not be celebrating next Thanksgiving as the team's GM. (Note: It's possible that a personal level, he feels quite secure with Hal Steinbrenner. But there IS that Steinbrennerian firing gene, the family's genetic trait, which was designed by God's evolutionary plan to keep the servants from ever feeling secure.) So... let's throw a wrinkle into this scenario: Let's say you are supposed to win next year - and develop a long term Yankee strategy.
This weekend, we signed
In fact, hitting the $189 budget number IS the current Yankees' long term plan. If we stay below it this year, we can proudly say that the rancid 2013 season was sacrificed for a worthy cause: We'll be able to shoot the moon next winter on whatever free agents are available, in an ever-shrinking base of players.
Under our long term plan, McCann, age 30, will catch this year and next, and then morph gradually into a 1B and DH. Trouble is, he might be substandard at both positions. We don't know. Let's just say in three years, this contract might be viewed in Vernon Wells territory.
Also, by signing McCann, we lost our first-round draft pick - which is central to every other team's long-term strategy. Who cares, eh? We haven't had much luck with first-rounders, anyway, right? So... we have hereby solved our catching situation, and figured out our future 1B and DH - sort of.
So... is there any position on the Yankees right now with a long-term strategy clearly in place?
Show of hands, please. Class? Anybody? You there, in the back, wearing the Jay Buhner t-shirt!
Yes, there is Brett Gardner in CF and - um - David Robertson somewhere in the bullpen and - well - maybe Ivan Nova as our second or third starter. For 2016, everything else is a complete mystery. We have no can't-miss prospects in the pipeline, no twentysomething star on the roster. (Somebody might blossom, but we just don't have them now.) And looming over every decision is that $189 million payroll.
Next month, if A-Rod gets booted from the game, we might outbid the Angels and Rangers for Robbie Cano and stay under budget. If not, it's probably either Robbie or the $189 figure. As for 2B? If Robbie goes, God only knows! There is the Japanese pitcher Tanaka, who might be posted around Christmas. We can shoot fire hoses of money his way. But if the Dodgers want him more... If Robbie goes, who's got the bigger hose? Carlos Beltran? Ha. You make me laugh. Raul Ibanez? I speet on you. Jeter? In 2016, instead of dating supermodels each night, he's going to be hanging with Michael Kay on YES.
Over the next month, the Yankees will make moves that define not only next year's team, but the next five years. If the New York press won't hold them accountable for that long range plan, the Yankee fan base has to do it.
The rules of baseball have changed. MLB is moving toward an NFL-like parity. Two years ago, Boston made a master stroke in building for the future. They are now the world champions. What the hell is our long term strategy? And if it is, "To win every year," God help us.