Up until a few weeks ago, it was the opinion of this author that the Yankees would be fine in 2013, but would be screwed in 2014. It’s amazing how a few weeks can change everything. While I will fall short of saying the Yankees will not compete this season since their rotation is still one of the best in the league, at the least it is safe to say it will be a challenge for Joe Girardi and Co. to stay afloat.
Amidst news that Steinbrenner could be abandoning the 2014 austerity budget plan, count me amongst those who think that it’s a foregone conclusion that the unpopular policy is already dead. While the policy is gone, the effects will be felt all through 2013.
Until a few weeks ago, it was promising that the Yankees could, and probably would compete. Nick Swisher’s power was not replaced, but Ichiro could make up for it in other ways and would play better defense. Russell Martin was gone, but he was a wreck at the plate last season anyway, and there was hope that Austin Romine could step in as a viable replacement. A-Rod was out, but Kevin Youkilis would provide some relief on that front. Who knows, the Yankees might even be better off without Alex. Yes, Jeter and Mo were coming off injuries, but come on, they are Jeter and Mo! At that time, I was still a believer.
Then Curtis Granderson goes down with a serious injury after being hit by a pitch. That one hurt, but most saw through Granderson’s power numbers and were not impressed with his lack of ability to hit for average anyway. Then in a moment the Yankees chances in 2013 took a major hit when Teixeira went down with a serious injury. It’s an injury he and the Yankees will have to be extremely cautious with, because they have a tendency to linger and ruin careers. Not that this last part was a surprise, but subsequently Austin Romine was sent down and it was announced that none other than Francisco Cervelli was going to be the opening day starter at catcher.
The Yankees are now left with a team sapped of power and are being forced to make signings like Brennan Boesch. This all comes down to what I like to call “the budget crisis.” It was short-lived, but the lessons from it will never be forgotten by Hal Steinbrenner. Bad things happen when the New York Yankees stop spending money. To be completely fair to Steinbrenner, no one could have predicted these two Spring Training injuries. The injuries, however, would not have been as significant if the Yankees were trotting out Nick Swisher in right field and Russell Martin at catcher. In fact, Swish could have even played first.
Hal’s punishment for his mistakes is what will amount to a one year hangover following the budget crisis.
As bad as 2013 has the potential to become, however, it actually improves the outlook for 2014. If Hal Steinbrenner has even a smidgen of the old man in him (and I think deep down inside he does) then he will spend with a vengeance for the 2014 team. Robinson Cano won’t be going anywhere. Hal and Cashman will have free agents such as Adam Wainwright, Josh Johnson, Brian McCann, Tim Lincecum, Matt Garza, Hunter Pence, Curtis Granderson, and Nelson Cruz to throw money at. Someone will bite.
All money aside, the Yankees top four prospects will all be knocking on the door by 2014 if all goes right. In fact, nine of BBDP’s 10 best prospects in the Yankees organization should all be in Triple-A or above by 2014. Furthermore, 14 of their top 20 will be in Triple-A or above. It’s also possible one or two who are in Triple-A and above in 2013 could show they belong. Any and all of these players could also be used to obtain big bats in a trade. Let’s be real though, prospects aren’t what is going to save this team in 2014, spending money is.
The last time the Yankees won a World Series was also the last time they went on a spending spree. Obviously such spending cannot happen every year, but nothing close to that amount has been spent ever since. 2008 was also a year when the Yankees missed the playoffs. 2013 is shaping up to be that type of season.
The 2013-2014 off-season is teeing up to be a big year of spending for Hal Steinbrenner and the Yankees. All of the ingredients to a Steinbrenner spending spree are slowly mixing together in a container of shame, bad luck, and failure. It took four years of frugality and no championships to reach that point, but the Yankee way will be restored soon enough.
Let me go on the record as saying that I don’t think anything Steinbrenner did was wrong in trying to get the budget under control. A few things happened that were out of the team’s control and thus the plan failed. That said, Hal knows it’s time to pick up the pieces the only way a Steinbrenner knows how, by making it rain on the MLB.