Can the Yankees Afford To Do Nothing?Added - Dec. 19, 2014 - Comments
In the past, when the New York Yankees had a season that fell short of expectations, owner George Steinbrenner would simply take out his checkbook and throw money at the problem. His offspring, Hank Steinbrenner, does not seem so eager to do that in this particular off-season. Or does he? The free-agent season is just getting started, and the Yankees a certainly have some decisions to make. From 1995 to 2012, this team made it to the post-season in every year but one. Last season's 84-78 record, which was good enough for second place in the AL East, was actually kind of miraculous, considering the fact that at one time or another, this team lost four of its starting pitchers, and had to deal with the circus created by Derek Jeter's annoying "farewell tour" all season long. Joe Girardi should have gotten much more consideration for the manager of the year award, as he kept the Yankees in the wild-card race deep into the season.
The Yanks spent a lot of money after their 85-77 finish in 2013, acquiring the likes of catcher Brian McCann, outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, and designated hitter Carlos Beltran, along with Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who of those four acquisitions proved to be the real sensation, contending for Cy Young consideration (as well as rookie of the year) before he was sidelined with an elbow injury. One might expect that if CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, and Ivan Nova can come back healthy, the Yankees could have a heck of a starting rotation. On top of that, they discovered a great rookie in the bullpen in Dellin Betances, who was 5-0 with a 1.40 ERA.
There are some good free-agent pitchers available, including the so-called Big Three of Jon Lester, James Shields and Max Scherzer, all of whom have great credentials. But the Yankees have let it be known that they are not really interested in going after any of those, because they are a little too old to be giving a long-term deal to. They may be playing possum, but they have not done the full-court press with any of those pitchers yet. The Yankees have all they can handle in trying to re-sign relief pitcher David Robertson, who was also entertaining an offer from the Houston Astros (well, reportedly; the Astros believe Robertson is using them just for leverage).
The question is, can the Yankees afford to go through this off-season without making a major splash? Remember that the Baltimore Orioles won the division, while the Boston Red Sox have started out things with a bang by signing both Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez to free-agent contracts. The Toronto Blue Jays have acquired Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin. Everybody seems to be making moves to improve, and the Yankees may be forced to follow suit. Can they simply count on their pitchers getting healthier? Somehow we don't think that's the way George would have operated.