Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Let's face it: 2014 is Tanaka... or $189 million and retool

Between now and January 24, Masahiro Tanaka will decide the future of the New York Yankees. His agent will call Brian Cashman and give the verdict on whether the team should try to win this year or start looking down the road.

Strange, how it's come to this, eh? We've tracked through a dead farm system, an aging lineup and the public banning of A-Rod. The Redsocks now sit atop the world of baseball, and the Yankees - o, those mighty Yankees - are grasping for the 2014 one-game playoff, that phony post-season that was installed to make MLB look a little less like the National Pastime and a little more like the NBA.

Well, if we sign Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees could be competitive this year. Add an ace pitcher to the lineup, well, that's can put a so-so team into the playoff mix. Suddenly, the Yankees could be a trade deadline acquisiton from the post-season. Hey, ya' never know.

But without Tanaka, well, ouch. Good luck, Yankee fans. Without Tanaka - or the Tanaka we're hoping he'll be - the Yankees must hope for a) Sabathia to put on 30 pounds and get younger, b) Kuroda to take off 40 innings and get younger, c) Nova to add three years of maturity, d) Phelps/Pineda/Bannelous/Nidal - good grief - why bother listing them all? - to become Andy Pettitte. All this must be added to a batting order thick at the top and pencil lead thin at the bottom. And then there are the injuries, sure to ravage such an old roster. Nope. Without Tanaka, this is a team likely to be out of the race by August 15, and there will be no worse place to play sports in America than Yankee Stadium for the final six weeks. We'll be watching Slade Heathcott playing Kevin Maas.

Without Tanaka, there is - well - Ubaldo Jimenez, and another lost draft pick. Without Tanaka, there is Adam Warren, a perfectly fine long reliever, asked to throw 180 innings. Without Tanaka, the Yankees roll the dice on a Brett Gardner trade, and even if they succeed, it's hard to imagine their strengths overcoming their weaknesses.

January 24 is the deadline. That's when Masahiro Tanaka decides the future of the Yankees in 2014. Amazing, eh, that you can invest so much money into an operation and still be waiting for the call.

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