“It’s about winning the summer. It’s not about winning the winter. That’s what we’re going to try to do again.”
And the reigning champ could not have said it any better, as the Yankees big winter makes them the team with something to prove heading into 2014.
What is truly baffling is how a $500 million winter spending spree could leave any team with uncertainties but that is the state of the 2014 Yankees.
And anyone blind to the questions looming is suffering from déjà vu circa 2009.
What separates 2009 from today is that was money better spent, and that championship season the team was not banking on veterans coming off injuries to stay healthy or bust.
But remember that off-season the Boss was still around, and the only “goal” was to fix the issues with the best players available. And that would have meant that Robinson Cano would still be the starting second baseman; and the bullpen would have some combo of Grant Belfour, Fernando Rodney and Joe Nathan.
The 2009 Yankees were without a doubt a more complete team. The bullpen was the best in the biz, the infield was a dynamic force and the bench was filled with legit back-ups.
Bullpen, infield, and bench all pose risks that could make or break the season.
BULLPEN – Closer Mariano Rivera is gone but I think David Robertson can do the job. The problem is there is no D-Rob setting up for D-Rob. And fact is a closer can’t save games if there is no opportunity given to him. I still am in shock that the Yankees front office felt no need to make sure D-Rob the smoothest transition.
INFIELD – What is Plan B if Jeter (age 40), Tex (age 34) or Roberts (age 36) lands on the DL? What if two get sidelined? It is always risky putting all your eggs in one basket; a lesson I thought the Yankees learned from last season.
BENCH/DEPTH – Farm system proved rotten at the top last year. The only Yankees prospect to land on Baseball American’s top 101 list is Gary Sanchez and he dropped from 47th to 85th spot. The farm houses some talent youngsters in the lower levels but this is about the now, and it ain’t pretty.
Maybe it is paranoia from last season that has me concerned with the idea of playing roulette at both second and third base. Not to mention a debunked farm system with zero prospects even to use in emergency if need be.
Maybe my cup is half full, but as Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey once said:
“I believe there are five teams in the AL East that could finish first, and five teams that could finish fifth. It’s going to be a couple bounces here or bloopers, or an injury or two that makes all the difference.”