It’s an A-Hole, for Cash-Man!
Via Jonah Keri today –
The New York Yankees have carried some truly miserable benches over the years. Which makes sense, if you think about it. When you trot out rosters stuffed with superstars, no self-respecting part-time player is going to sign with you, given how little playing time he’s likely to get. Every time Clay Bellinger pulls out his two World Series rings, he should thank George Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman for building teams that were so loaded, the Yankees couldn’t do any better for a backup.
This year’s Yankees team isn’t stuffed with superstars. At this point, they have two: Robinson Cano (who’s eligible for free agency at year’s end unless the Yankees can convince him to re-sign by offering the GDP of São Tomé and Principe) and CC Sabathia. But now, instead of playing time being the problem, it’s money. The 2013 Yanks are so committed to holding the line on salaries, and have so much tied up in thirtysomething former stars like A-Rod, Jeter, hell, even A.J. F’ing Burnett, that they can’t, or at least won’t, outbid other teams for quality part-time players. Which is why, after Curtis Granderson suffered a broken forearm that will keep him out 10 weeks, the projected Opening Day left fielder for the Yankees — the mighty New York Yankees — is Juan Rivera.
Granderson’s injury is just the latest setback for a Yankees team that has major collapse potential. Nick Swisher bolted for the Indians, while the Pirates (the Pirates!) outbid New York for Russell Martin. In Swisher’s stead, the Yankees signed Travis Hafner, a once-devastating hitter who’s still a plus bat when healthy, which is a bit like saying Rick Ankiel was a plus pitcher when his fastball wasn’t drilling people in the 14th row. Swisher’s actual vacated right-field job falls to Ichiro, who we’re supposed to believe is now reborn at age 39, because he found a few holes in the defense in 67 games for New York. A full year of Brett Gardner could be a big upgrade … but Jeter’s a gigantic regression risk coming off ankle surgery and following an out-of-the-blue 216-hit season. Mr. Glass Alex Rodriguez has been replaced by the nearly-as-gimpy Kevin Youkilis. Replacing Martin at catcher are Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli, whose collective offensive impact projects to be dead ball–ian. As good as the starting rotation might be with everyone back, the starting nine could make this the worst Yankees season in more than two decades.
Given all those holes and potential holes, Rivera’s presence in the lineup bodes ill for the Yankees’ chances of repeating as AL East champions, even if he doesn’t play more than the five weeks or so that Granderson would be projected to miss after Opening Day. Rivera’s essentially been a replacement-level player in five of the past six seasons, with no significant contributions since 2009.
I’ll just hang up now and listen to your reaction.