Starting with a turbulent off-season, where Yankees fans learned that the late, great George Steinbrenner’s definition of winning was not passed down to his son and inherited team owner, Hal.
The fact that the Yankees are not a lock for a playoff berth this season shouldn’t be as shocking as it feels because the red flags were a flying, specifically two, before Spring Training even started.
1) The first red flag was not making starting catcher Russell Martin a top priority during the off-season. Actually, Martin who clearly stated he wanted to stay in the pinstripes did not even receive an offer from the Yankees at all.
Donde es mousier Martin?
Martin is down in Pittsburgh playing for the Pirates, a team who is a game back in the NL Central and sitting atop the NL Wild Card standings with a 2.5 game lead.
Earlier this week, I was listening to the ESPN station on Sirius and the Pirates inking Martin ranked as the fourth best made last off-season.
Not shocking, as the Pirates are a better team with Martin.
Here are two Martin tweets that made me cringe.
@keithlaw How does Russell Martin have the 8th highest defensive WAR # on fangraphs? Doesn't seem possible a catcher could have that impact
— Ryan Moulder (@RyanMoulder1) August 30, 2013
Russell Martin is the Pirates’ MVP | Pittsburgh Sporting News http://t.co/mA7FAZLUCo
— Danielle Aprea (@ApreaDanielle) August 29, 2013
2) Red flag number two was basing the 2013 season’s success on players coming off the DL (disabled list).
Filling in major holes with sub-par, but cheap options just to hold down the fort until stars got healthy was flat-out irresponsible.
Not to mention risky considering age and severity of the injury.
- Captain and starting SS Derek Jeter had a walking boot still on his surgically repaired ankle in mid-January.
- Overpaying injury prone Kevin Youkilis to fill in at 3B for Alex Rodriguez bombed, shocker. I forgot that Youks was on the darn team he has been on the DL for so long. The Yankees knew that A-Rod’s second hip surgery would sideline him until mid-August.
- Ace CC Sabathia had elbow shards removed from his elbow over Christmas. In my opinion, regardless of how minor a procedure CC had, he is still the Yankees ace and it is his throwing arm. Enough said. And CC is putting up the worst numbers of his career, as he is 11-11 with a 4.81 ERA. CC has been taken deep 27 times this season, well surpassing his career high of 22 homers over an entire season. Currently, he is leading the AL in earned runs with 95.
- All-Star first baseman Mark Teixeira tore the sheath tendon on his right wrist the first day of WBC practice, which was basically at the beginning of Spring Training. Wrist injuries are complicated to begin with but this particular type has a recent history of not healing after weeks of rehab and ends up requiring season ending surgery.
- In his first at-bat of Spring Training, a pitch ricocheted off Curtis Granderson’s hand and broke it. He returned on May 14th, and on May 24th it was déjà vu all over again. The Grandyman returned from his second DL stint on August 2nd.
- Signing the only productive hitter from the 2012 off-season, who also publicly stated his wish to return would have been a good start to the Winter Meetings. But veteran Raul Ibanez didn’t want to wait on the Yankees so he resigned with one of his former team’s out in Seattle. Ibanez has hit 25 homers with the Mariners, and is posting a .308 RISP. Whoops….
Ok, that is enough for red flag number two, as I could go on and on but I think I conveyed some of the more critical examples under one broad category of a bad off-season.
Bottom line is if the Yankees are not playing baseball come October, which is currently hindering on falling into “it would take a miracle” classification, Bronx Bomber fans know whose to blame.
Hal was more concerned with the franchises long-term budget without seeming to care about the team itself.
I mean how in God’s name does the son of the Boss not know that winning, is all about the Benjamins?