Last month, the Yankees reclaimed the humble fishing village of Tampa - home to the Salvador Dali Museum - with an ad campaign seemingly cropped from Pepsi in 1965: "For those who think young." The "Baby Bombers" were born, and the future looked as flexible as one of Dali's clocks.
Five children would vie for two open rotation slots, and hopes ran high that the two Luises - Cessa and Severino - would pull swords from the boulder and claim the monarchy. Simultaneously, Brian Cashman hinted that several teams were inquiring about Brett Gardner, and the White Sox whispered that we could have the immortal Jose Quintana, in exchange for merely a left testicle of young talent.
For the last month, Yankee fans have hoped some NL contender in a place we never visit would suddenly crave a 33-year-old lefty OF with good chemistry and declining speed. They could have Gardy or Jacoby Ellsbury. In a perfect Yankiverse, we'd trade one of them for Quintana and start printing tickets for the October one game Wild Card.
Well, fuck that. Despite a 15-5 spring record - best anywhere - the holes in our roster are big enough to swallow the city of Scranton. Between now and April 1, Cashman will almost certainly cut a deal or two. The reasons...
1. Nobody has claimed the two starter spots. The brain trust seems to favor Severino (3.68 ERA in 7 1/3 IP), out of pure muscle memory: They've been touting him for years and can't quit the habit. (He's almost becoming the new Pineda.) The fifth appears to be Bryan Mitchell (3.77 ERA in 14 1/3 IP), but we've seen this movie before. Last year, Mitchell wrapped up a bullpen slot and then stubbed his toe, missing four months. The fact is, if anybody throws well next week, he can wear the crown... and folks, that's not a good sign.
2. We have too many outfielders - way too many; they're like an overgrown crop of tomatoes. We have enough for not only NYC, but for Scranton, Trenton and the European Union. Somebody's gotta go, and that dreamed-of suitor for Gardner or Ellsbury has yet to materialize. After tweaking his shoulder, Mason Williams - sent to Scranton today - never had a chance. Thus, the Anthracite Capital of Pennsylvania will now see Williams, Dustin Fowler, Clint Frazier, Jake Cave, Mark Payton, Rob Refsnyder and the suddenly intriguing Billy McKinney, who had a great spring. Considering that IF Tyler Wade is supposed to add OF to his resume, something's gotta give. We either trade an old guy, or we trade prospects. And thus far, nobody wants old guys.
3. Then there's Quintana, the rumor that will not die. I've ripped this notion for months - no sense going there again. We hoped the events of spring would force some team to need Gardner, giving us leverage for a deal. In fact, the joys of spring - such as McKinney's ascension - might make a Quintana trade more likely. We're like the shouting TV pitch man: We gotta move these cars! Be afraid. Be very afraid.
4. No matter what happens, all the roster churning will not fundamentally change the 2017 Yankees. To win anything, we must still close our eyes and imagine that somehow - magically, I guess - Ellsbury, Chase Headley, Starlin Castro, Michael Pineda and Aaron Hicks turn into all-stars. Frankly, we have a better chance of dating Emily Watson, but that's the level of surreal, Dali-esque reality to which we've been reduced.
We have big holes to fill, and I am dreading the deals ahead. They will shape 2017 - and perhaps years to come.