Via Phil Rogers:
Impatience rarely is rewarded in baseball.
It happens, sure. The World Series the infant franchises in Florida (1997) and Arizona (2001) won come to mind. But there have been a lot more spectacular failures than successes from teams that spend heavily to get themselves to the top.
None of the great teams ever really have been purchased, but the Yankees of 2009-11 now are poised to become the first.
It’s true the Yankees still have stars they developed in Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera. But after committing $796 million to elite free agents with an average age of 32.4 years the last two years — retaining Alex Rodriguez, Posada and Rivera while adding Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett—there’s little comparison to the franchise that won with guys like Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill, Scott Brosius and a young Andy Pettitte.
With a new, heavily subsidized—and possibly criminally financed stadium (someone could go to jail over the inflated appraisal of the land)—the Yankees conduct business as if they live in a booming economy. Their fans are thrilled; fans of the other 29 teams, not so much.
The meter is still running, of course. But as of Christmas, the Yankees had outspent the other 29 teams in free agency this winter—$423.5 million to $296.6 million. That’s staggering.
Will it work? We won’t know until next October, and history suggests the odds are against a team built around the superbly talented, minimally impactful Rodriguez and Teixeira.
Rodriguez (especially) and Teixeira seem to want it both ways. The skills that put them in the middle of the lineup, as well as their paychecks, suggest they should be leaders, but they never have led their franchises. Rodriguez seems to want to be Jeter—a regular guy who drives in runs as he helps little old ladies across the street—and Teixeira seemingly just wants to be left alone.
Imagine the contract Teixeira would have gotten if he ever had done anything except put up stats. After all, this is a star who in his first six seasons never has been higher than seventh in MVP voting.
Between them, Rodriguez and Teixeira have played in 11 postseason series. Their teams are a combined 22-29, advancing to the next round only three times.
Sabathia’s teams have won one of his four postseason series. Burnett never has played in the postseason (he was hurt when Florida won in 2003).
For what it’s worth, post-2000, the Yankees went out and “bought” Hideki Matsui, Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, Gary Sheffield, Mike Mussina, Kyle Farnsworth, Tom Gordon, Paul Quantrill, Tony Womack, Steve Karsay, Kenny Lofton, Jaret Wright, Rondell White, Jose Contreras, Jon Lieber, Kei Igawa, Octavio Dotel and Carl Pavano. And, in a way, they “bought” Alex Rodriguez, Bobby Abreu, Raul Mondesi, and Kevin Brown – by taking on their contracts when their former team no longer wanted to pay them.
And, none of that “buying” ended up in a ring, did it?