Last night, Jon Lester went off the Yankee grid, hours after we lost David Robertson - in both cases, without ever firing off a shot.
Today, a popular view across the Yankiverse is that Hal Steinbrenner has been marshaling his bottle deposits, planning to grab a Max Scherzer or a James Shields, or somebody at least bigger than the two sorry teams signed for the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl: Penn State (6-6) and Boston College (7-5). Ouch.
Throughout the bidding processes for Lester and Robby, we were constantly told to keep our eyes on the mighty Yankees, who could strike suddenly and get their man. This, it turns out, was absolute crapola - a boldface lie - ejaculated by agents and click-happy websites.
This morning, in the continuing spirit of absolute crapola, let's imagine that the Evil Empire signs nobody else this winter, aside from an occasional Zelous and Yangervis. They walk away from the great Chase Headley chase and ignore Mad Max and Invisible Shields. Maybe they pen a Brendan McCarthy or Jason Grilli. Meh. And, of course, next July, our front office will be frantically gobbling up bad contracts like rolling a lint catcher over your ugliest Christmas sweater. Because, in the end, bad contracts are what they do best.
But, according to the wondrous Cot's Baseball Contracts website, here's where the Yankees stand in long range contracts. Take a moment, and peruse this, because it is the Yankees' version of the CIA Torture Report. Study it, and you will see for yourself how screwed we are:
The Yankee payroll currently stands at $180 million. But, as you can see, that's not counting the looming arbitration settlements for Kelley, Phelps, Pineda, Warren, Wilson, Betances and Didi Gregorius. Without doing anything more, our payroll will vault near or above $200 million. It won't be until 2018 when the team climbs out from under this Mount Everest of bad contracts. The question is, will we have merely replaced them with new ones?
(Obligatory note: A $250 million payroll is a pittance compared to the money being made by the Yankees. It's been estimated that Hal Steinbrenner could double that payroll and still break even. But he won't, because - in the end - this is a mere parlor game being played by friends, and if he spends too much, the other owners will not like him, and it wouldn't be fun. Hail Hydra.)
Take one more look at that graphic. In 2018, the Yankees will be on the dime for Tanaka, Ellsbury, McCann, Gardner and Miller. They'll have picked up Betances, Pineda, Phelps, et al. But you can get the picture. In 2018, if we do something stupid, the Yankees could start building a long term powerhouse.
There is a scene in the Showtime series "Homeland," where Mandy Patinkin - playing the brilliant CIA analyst - tells a U.S. General something like this: "We have been in Afghanistan now for 14 years, without thinking about the long range. Instead of fighting a 14-year war, we have fought a one-year war, 14 times."
Listen: It's time for the Yankees to think in similar terms. Yes, we can load up and try to make the 2015 Wild Card game. And yes, if you snag a wild card, who knows what might happen? But if we are going to build a team like the one that won four rings between 1996 and 2000, we must prepare to sit out the next wave of eight-year deals. It starts this week, right?