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Friday, July 11, 2014

Sayonara, Yankees.

Masahiro Tanaka will pitch again for the New York Yankees either in September 2014 or in 2016.  If Tanaka needs Tommy John surgery on his right pitching elbow it will be 2016.  If rest and rehab are sufficient, Tanaka may return in September.  However, by then the Yankees may be out of contention.

This could be a blessing in disguise.  It could force the Yankees to rebuild rather than patch the sinking ship of aging players who don't even deserve to be called a team.  The Yankees started the season with no regular younger than 30.  Patching that is as silly as assembling the group in the first place.

Yankee management lacks both the intelligence and imagination to compete in the current environment.  During the early years of the Steinbrenner era, the Yankees could bludgeon the opposition by spending wildly on free agents.  There were so many that the Yankees could make mistakes but still succeed.  Starting with Reggie Jackson in 1977, the Yankees had many successes and failures but the net impact was generally positive.  Dave Winfield did not provide any championships as Jackson had but he was a success.  Not so for Steve Kemp, Dave Collins, Ruppert Jones, Jerry Mumfrey.  You get the idea.  Just spend, baby.  That was George's way and his kids are trying the same thing but times have changed.

1. The Yankees are no longer the only team with lots of TV money streaming in.
2. Other teams are using their new line of credit to lock up their own talented players when they are young and before they become free agents.  See Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw.
3. The result in recent years has been less talented older free agents.  See Jacoby Ellsbury, Brain McCann, both of whom were gobbled up by the Yankees in the recent off season even though both filled spots that did not need filling nearly as much as gaping holes at several other positions.  The Yankees simply signed the players they thought were the best available and paid them like stars, which neither is.
4. More teams are getting smart, which the Yankees never were.  That only increases the Yankee problem.

The Yankees are dumb and unimaginative.  They're currently descending into the realm of the NBA Knicks, a team going through its second consecutive implosion in a decade.  The NBA has a pretty hard salary cap.  The Major Baseball League (MBL) has a soft cap.  From 2003 through 2012 the Yankees were the top spending team each year; the Dodgers in 2013 and 2014.  The Yankees exceeded the cap in every season, winning the championship in 2009.  Boston exceeded three times and won three championships.  Texas once.  Angels once.  That's it.  All other teams stayed under the cap.  St. Louis and San Francisco each won two championships.

Get the picture?  And it gets worse.  The Yankees have decent talent in the minors but no stars to either bring up or trade for veterans.  Tampa southpaw David Price, 2012 Cy Young award winner, may become available before the July 31 trading deadline but the Yankees do not have the top prospects to tempt Tampa into trading Price to the Yanks.

And the Yankees stubbornly insist on trying to qualify for the tournament every season, thinking their fans are as dumb as they are.  With the extra wild card spot introduced in 2012 it's much easier to slip into the tournament.  But do Yankee fans want their baseball team to be like the Knicks: qualify but be eliminated early?  After a couple of seasons of that few Yankees fans would find it acceptable.

Fans can tell the difference between this bunch and Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle.  And next season Derek Jeter will be gone.  No one wants to root for monument park.  The Yankees cannot cover up their failures with more uniform numbers retired or more plaques awarded to former players.
Red Buttons won the Acadamy Award for supporting actor in the 1957 film Sayonara
photo by Born Newborn Assoc. - PR agency via Wikimedia Commons

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