Mike Silva's New York Baseball Digest » Blog Archive » Yanks Spending Spree Gets Them “In the Mix”

Yanks Spending Spree Gets Them “In the Mix”

By Mike Silva ~ March 30th, 2014. Filed under: New York Yankees.

Normally the Yankees spending $400 plus million in an offseason would lead to assurances of an AL East title and October baseball. This time, all Brian Cashman did by acquiring Jacoby Ellsbury, Masahiro Tanaka, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann is get the Yanks back into the same Wild Card mix they were in last year. The difference is they’re actually an 85 to 87 win team versus the over performance of what was really a 79-win team in 2013.

Lets start with the positives.  The Yankees may have the best fifth starter in baseball in Michael Pineda. Their bullpen has interesting arms such as Vidal Nuno, David Phelps and Adam Warren that provide some upside. Any of those individuals could step-in to the rotation, and give Joe Girardi quality innings. Gone are the days where injuries lead Cashman and company to turn to the trash heap for the Sidney Ponson’s of the league. In the bullpen,  Dellin Betances and Shawn Kelley will potentially miss a lot of bats.  David Robertson is replacing the “Babe Ruth of closers,” but his process- high strikeout rate and a decreasing walk rate - makes him a good bet to be among the elite closers in baseball. Not Mariano Rivera, but you can’t ask for anything better. The free agent acquisitions should all perform to historical levels, a tremendous upgrade from last season, with Tanaka possibly becoming the ace that CC Sabathia once was.

So why the pessimism? There still are too many question marks on this roster. Any sane baseball analyst that doesn’t wear pinstriped-colored glasses knows that, in best case, question marks falls somewhere down-the-middle of the outcome scale.

So what’s different than prior spending sprees? Cashman knew the “magic beans and pixie dust” patchwork that led to an 85-77 finish last year would not be sustainable in 2014. The problem is $400-million isn’t enough as he needed a bit more to fill his holes at second, third and bring in veteran bench insurance for the aging Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira. I believe the infield will ultimately be one of their glaring weaknesses.

I expect a post-wrist surgery Mark Teixeira to lack the power of prior years, and be more of a defensive-minded first baseman. Derek Jeter, despite staying healthy this spring, will be asked to become the first 40-year old shortstop to perform at an elite level since Honus Wagner.  In other words, not since Woodrow Wilson was President of the United States have we seen that kind of combination of age and performance at the position.

What about the top-of-the-rotation? Tanaka better be good as advertised since both Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda are no sure bets to repeat their prior performances. Hearing Sabathia talk about “re-inventing” himself should be a clue as to what we should expect from him going forward. There are far more examples of aces struggling with a compromised repertoire later in their career (see Randy Johnson), then those that returned to their prior All-Star level (Tom Glavine).

What should be even more concerning for this Yankees team their Plan B for Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson. Roberts would be a great option at second, and probably the leader to become a fan favorite, if this were 2005. It’s been four years since Roberts stayed on the field and performed acceptably to be considered an everyday player at the position. Johnson has some interesting left-handed pop for Yankee Stadium, but profiles better as an “around-the-world” bench player than alternative to Alex Rodriguez at third. If they fail, then what? Dean Anna? Yangervis Solarte? Eduardo Nunez? Those are the kind of alternatives that got the Yanks in trouble last season.

I believe this Yankees team has too much age, too top heavy in talent and lacks appropriate depth. We all praised Hal Steinbrenner for ignoring the luxury tax threshold and bringing on Tanaka, but he still pinched pennies when it came to critical parts of the roster. If you were going to splurge, go all the way and step up for Cano at second. That would have made the offseason that much different.

Vegas has the Yankees over/under around 86-87 wins, and I believe that is exactly where this team will end up.  Is that enough for a one-game playoff? Maybe, and once you get in the tournament that is the modern MLB playoffs anything can happen. On the flip side, I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees finished in the low eighties and towards the bottom of the AL East. Not a bad “worst-case” scenario, but not what this organization and fan base has experienced the last two decades.


Listen to Sweeny Murti of WFAN preview the 2014 season on the Weekend Watchdogs.

Post to Twitter Post to Yahoo Buzz Post to Delicious Post to Digg Post to Facebook

The following two tabs change content below.
Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

Latest posts by Mike Silva (see all)

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.