Of course, 2012-13 was the Yankee "Winter of Fiscal Prudence," when Hal Steinbrenner ruled that his team needed to cap payroll at $189 million. Thus, Hal refused to sign two-year deals with anyone - anyone! - and then broke the edict for Ichiro. What a man. What a mind. It's a wonder the Malaysian Air Force never calls for advice.
Today, we know the $189 million "goal" was about as real as those crystal Mayan skulls in Atlantis, which foretold of Matt Damon's rise. But what if Cashman had just physically manhandled Hal - you know, the way Wendy Murdoch did to Rupert - maybe whacked him a phone or pushed him into a piano (the way Wendy Murdoch did to Rupert) to force Hal to relent? What if Cashman talked sense to Steinbrenner - (Ha, I do a funny one, eh?) - and Hal scuttled his plan. What if we had signed Russell Martin to a two-year deal? (Note: We still wouldn't have re-signed Nick Swisher, because he broke Jeter's ankle.) Yes, what if we could leap to the next astral plane, the alternative universe where Hal 9000 wasn't such a dud? Where would we be?
Visit to Alt-Universe No. 19:
Lindsay Lohan is a man. Barack Obama is the President of Kenya. Humankind has learned to speak dolphin language. And the Yankees re-signed Russell Martin.
Poor Pittsburgh. Once again, they didn't make the playoffs. But at least they have the memory of that great Pirate rightfielder, the saintly Mel Hall. We, on the other hand, made the 2013 post-season. We won the one-game playoff, against Tampa, but then were cuffed around hideously by the Redsocks, the '13 team of destiny. Our bats folded, as everybody swung for the fences, as usual. Lester and Lackey shut us down. Boston fans mocked us. It was ugly. We were swept in three. In his post-game depression, Cashman ate a light bulb.
We have Russell Martin this year as catcher, plus all that money that would have gone to Brian McCann. That's OK, because the rumors are hot that we will sign Matt Wieters next winter, and the talk is so abundant that Buck Showalter is moaning about it all the time. Baltimore fans will boo Wieters all the season, unless he signs a contract extension. We view him as a future Yankee.
But this winter, Steinbrenner didn't have to atone for missing the 2013 playoffs. At first, he put more money toward re-signing Robbie Cano, but it didn't matter: The Seattle deal was destined to happen, in order to boost Jay-Z's ego and his most important priority: His agency. Thus, Cano is gone.
To compensate, Hal quickly went out and signed Jacoby Ellsbury, a shot across the bow of Boston. Also, we needed to boost ratings on the YES Network. Then we signed Carlos Beltran, basically because - well - actually, it's the same in this universe: Nobody's really sure why we signed Beltran. The mystery is universal.
But what about all that Brian McCann money? Hal didn't have to spend it. Remember, he wasn't so shamed by the 2013 collapse. Thus, he didn't chase Masahiro Tanaka so desperately. The memory of Kei Igawa kept him on the sidelines. Theo Epstein's Cubs snagged Tanaka. And Steinbrenner lately has been eying that $189 million cap: The Yankees are within striking distance of Fiscal Prudence - saving money on the luxury tax. Hoo-ray.
But wait: What about Brian McCann? Where did he go? Boston, my friends. He fits in perfectly with the Redsock lineup, especially after we took Chicken Bone Ellsbury from them. That leaves us with - gulp - Ubaldo Jimenez and a shot at that magical $189 million concept. Yes, this is the $189 Million Universe.
In other words, stay put, everybody. We're better off where we are. At least Boston doesn't have McCann, and we have Professor Tanaka. Hal Steinbrenner... brilliant, again! What a man. What a leader. What a universe. Pass the meat loaf.