The parade has been swept up, and the tears have flowed in Boston. Ladies and gentleman, the inevitable has happened: the Yankees have bought another World Series. Sure you can give credit to the power and allure of the dollar that essentially attracted enough free-agent talent to the Bronx to win them their 27th championship, but don’t you feel just a tiny bit happy for them? No, of course not. What on earth was I thinking? With the pressure off, and no more big-bad-George Steinbrenner in the front office, “repeat” is what I’m definitely thinking.
Over the past years, George Steinbrenner was like a mix between Bill Nye the Science Guy and Donald Trump. With some basic knowledge and a disgusting amount of money, Steinbrenner tried tirelessly to recreate the Yankee teams that went on to become a dynasty. Unfortunately, the Frankenstein-esque creature he came up with never quite got the job done. Ever since that dynasty evaporated in an epic 2001 World Series in the desert, many fans of baseball (aka not Yankee fans) took solace in knowing that money did not earn championships. Well, think again. Boston has won twice, in 2004 and 2007, followed by this most recent New York victory, which means that the two highest payrolls in the MLB are still consistently racking up the hardware. Be advised, however, the spending spree is about to cool down for the Yankees. Well, at least for this off-season.
It’s hard to fathom an off-season where the Evil Empire doesn’t delve deep into their wallets to round up the latest crop of mercenaries. They seem to have the bottomless pockets needed to attract any and all guns for hire. What they have this time is some stability and experience. That’s right, the 27-time champions have experience.
They finally figured out that when bats go cold, great pitching can bail you out. Though Mark Texeira was a tremendous off-season signing, the Yankees know that their best pick-ups were C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. When it comes time again to empty the treasury, the next big-fish they’ll be looking to sign will be throwing baseballs, not hitting them out of the park.
I give some credit to the Yankees spending sprees as well. As much as they’ve blown hundreds of millions on top-notch talent like Texeira and Alex Rodriguez, they also managed to lock them up long term. This means that the heart of their order is going to be potent and stable for a long time to come. Guys like Texeira and Rodriguez are fairly durable too. Throw in Derek Jeter as a reliable lead-off man for the next few years, and suddenly the logical place to throw more money is once again your starting rotation. With Andy Pettite retiring soon, the Yankees will be seeking some pitching, and far be it from them to sign anyone but a perennial all-star.
With that in mind, there are plenty of big names available on the market this winter. Guys like Erik Bedard, Rich Harden, Brandon Backe and Brad Penny are all looking for new jerseys to don. Why won’t the Yankees want to take the risk? I have no doubt that on any other year, the Yankees would squander upwards of $15 million per season to nab a shaky guy like Bedard, but with two great starters in Sabathia and Burnett already locked up, the money is much better used elsewhere. That elsewhere is in 2010 and a certain birdie decides to fly the coop.
When the 2010 season completes, and the free agent market is open for business, I can promise you that the biggest story will be where Roy Halladay, the classy, misfortunate Toronto ace will end up. With stellar statistics playing on poor Toronto teams, it is quite the mental exercise to dream of what his numbers would be on a contender. Now that the Yankees have many key players locked into long-term deals, saving a lot of their cash this winter is a wise move if it means overpaying for the best pitcher in baseball.
Sometimes patience pays dividends, but when have we ever known the Yankees to be patient? That is where they are different. They aren’t the do-or-die Yankees of the meddling George Steinbrenner era. They have a mellower owner and reliable, proven talent. Even if guys like Johnny Damon and World Series MVP Hideki Matsui don’t re-sign (of which only Damon should be re-signed), New York still has a legitimate chance to repeat. Doc Halladay in pinstripes only ups the ante.
Yeah, yeah, I know it’s the same old story. Yankees spend gazillions, win lots, yadda yadda. If you want to know what the big story is, see Bull Penned from two weeks ago, and you’ll see a certain somebody accurately predict the World Series finalists, and winner. No applause necessary, just get me a Yankee-sized cheque.