Sunday, December 22, 2013

How to become the Knicks of baseball: Long term contracts to old, brittle players

Now, they're saying the Yankees may sign Stephen Drew. Nobody knows what for. He might play SS. Maybe 3B. Or 2B. He could he could be our fifth starter. We'll sign him for three to five years. Who cares? We're buying old players the way teenagers buy phone aps. Come spring, when we decide who plays OF, it'll be like the Three Stooges trying to get through a doorway. That is, until the inevitable trade of Brett Gardner.

Why such Grinchian negativity? The Drew rumors. These scatter-shot signings are so reminiscent of old George Steinbrenner in the 1980s that I'm wondering if Hal is making good on his threat to take over the team. These are the kinds of moves Peter Angelos made in Baltimore, when he destroyed that franchise for 15 years. Worst of all, Boston is doing it the right way.

The Redsocks have the top ranked farm system in baseball, according to Baseball America. (We rank 16th.) Two rookies - Bogartes and Bradely - will start this year, infusing their veteran lineup with youth. Meanwhile, Joel Sherman did the math last night, revealing just how insanely old our team will be next year. This is what Sherman says about our captain.

Derek Jeter, 39, is 4 ¹/₂ years older than the next-oldest likely starting shortstop, Jimmy Rollins. He missed most of last season with a twice-fractured ankle. He turns 40 in June. Shortstops who have come to bat even 300 times in an age-40-or-older season: Luke Appling, Honus Wagner, Omar Vizquel and Barry Larkin. None missed most of the previous season with a twice-broken ankle.

Thus, you might say we should sign Stephen Drew.  But in doing so, we would be adding another long term contract to the pile. The Boston Herald is cackling about it.

In 2015 alone, they have $127 million already on the books — $51 million more than the Red Sox have from 2015 through infinity. In 2016 the figure dips slightly to $123 million; in 2017, it’s $64 million, in 2018, it’s $38 million and in 2019, it’s at $21 million. So, maybe the average Yankees fan is not all that worked up about having $373 million worth of contracts on the books after next year. After all, co-owners Hal and Hank Steinbrenner have spent lots of money for lots of years and have had lots of championships to show for it — except for lately.

 We are caught between a rock and hard place, between old age and long term contracts. We are throwing gasoline on a fire. It's going to explode, and there won't be enough money in the world to put it out. Stephen Drew? Another oldster. No draft picks. No rookies. Dear God.

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