A Horrific Season is What the Yankees Need to Return to Greatness

Hiroki Kuroda I was talking to my friend a few days ago about the Yankees Red Sox opener. We started joking how the the rivals are fighting for fourth place in the AL East this year.

Isn’t it incredible how you can make that comment only half-kidding?

For the first time in about 16 years, Boston and New York fans must succumb to the three “other” teams in the AL East. As a Yankees fan, Toronto, Tampa, and Baltimore have been just thorns in our sides, would-be tacklers failing perennially to prevent my Bombers from reaching the endzone.

Not this year.

And I’m okay with it.

I’m a little excited in an abstract way. Injuries and payroll dump may result in a Yankees team of homegrown talent, not multi-million-dollar synthetic puzzle pieces. Maybe my team can relax and bond over watered down expectations instead of folding under the postseason pressure to quench a near-insatiable thirst of “World Series or bust”.

Perpetual greatness allows for occasional mediocrity.

Look at the 2011 Indianapolis Colts. Just like the Yankees, Peyton Manning & Co. were a perennial powerhouse, spoon fed VIP entrance to the playoffs from week one. Eventually, age settled in and the Colts needed to start fresh. Incredibly they only needed one year and a #1 pick to bounce right back to Super Bowl contention, but they played their cards right and inquired from within, just like the Yankees dynasty from the late 90s.

Here’s the payroll (money…rank in league) of the last ten World Series Champions:

San Francisco Giants: $118M……8
St. Louis Cardinals: $105M………11
San Francisco Giants: $98……….10
New York Yankees: $201………….1
Philadelphia Phillies: $98………..12
Boston Red Sox $143……………….2
St. Louis Cardinals $89……………11
Chicago White Sox $75…………….13
Boston Red Sox $125……………….2
Florida Marlins $49…………………25

The theory is sound: better players = higher chance of winning, better players = more money, more money = higher chance of winning. Ya spend more, ya win more.

It just doesn’t work like that.

If you told me the Yankees will go 72-90 but will give their home-grown talent reps and experience, I’d take it. *On second thought, I’d rather that season come next year. I want to see Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte get one last chance at a title.*

Unfortunately, for a team that has lead the league in payroll every single year since 2001 (numbers here), they have but one World Series to boast during that time.

Yankees “big” free agent contracts since 2004:
Disaster deal, Okay deal, Good deal, Great deal (in my opinion)

Alex Rodriguez – 10/252, 10/275
Carl Pavano – 4/40
Johnny Damon – 4/52
Kei Igawa – 5/20
A.J. Burnett – 5/82.5

CC Sabathia – 7/161
Mark Teixeria – 8/180

Maybe I’m a little harsh, but has any contract since Mike Mussina’s 6/88.5 deal  been a great sign?

Dr EvilMaybe these large contracts in a big market are disguises for failure. A-Rod said it himself. He used steroids with Texas to help reach near unrealistic expectations. When presented with a salary many fans will never see in their lifetime, it’s a lot of pressure.

Chemistry wins championships. Not paychecks.

The $200M mindset is a great, aggressive strategy, but it’s not how you win World Series. Plus, there’s more excitement rooting for Brett Gardner or a young Robinson Cano as opposed to a free agent filling the Yankees laundry.

So what if Hiroki Kuroda is injured. So what if we throw a minor league team out there until late May. But I want to see what we have in our farm system. I just don’t feel like Lyle Overbay, Travis Hafner, and Ben Francisco are more than temporary patch jobs. Let’s go Yankees. It’s been 13 years. We’re due for a dynasty.

Why Granderson’s Injury May Be a Positive For the Yankees

It took less than an inning. Picking up right where the Yankees left off in last year’s ALDS, a broken forearm will sideline all-star outfielder Curtis Granderson until May. The knee-jerk reaction is “here we go again,” “that sucks,” and other one-liners emanating negativity and pessimism.

But nothing against Granderson, and I don’t wish injury upon anybody, but it wouldn’t bother me if he was out for the year.

Since the Yankees’ scrappy dynasty of the late 90’s, the Steinbrenner wallet has headed the forefront of the New York Yankees product – cashmere-quality athletes who, on paper, should give the Yankees a World Series every two or three years.

About 12 years have gone by since the subjective start of this philosophy and the trend has been anything but what the Evil Empire expected – while borderline unfair, one championship in 12 years isn’t acceptable in the Bronx.

Personally, I want to see young guns get a chance to showcase their skills for the team who’s scouts handpicked them. There’s something different about cheering for a Robinson Cano vs. Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner vs. Mark Teixeira.

I’m not hating on A-Rod nor Teixeira, but the majesty of, for instance,  the ’98 Yankees came partially due to the homegrown talent that together created the perfect jigsaw puzzle: Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, David Cone, Mariano Rivera.

As a die-hard Yankee fan it seems my team today is kind of…. artificial.

It’s why I don’t mind watching Cashman wiggle his way out of paying a cent in luxury tax. Give your homegrown talent a chance to shine. The big bully free agency strategy is nice in theory, but has not shown the results we’ve come to expect out of the Bronx Bombers.

Remember Tony Womack? In 2005 the Yankees signed the veteran second baseman to a deal, only to forfeit that position to a young Robinson Cano that May due to Womack’s inability to do anything.

I don’t expect a home run like this to come from Granderson’s strike of bad luck, but there are Jeremy Lins out there waiting for their time.

Take as much time as you need Curtis. We want you healthy… but hopefully more good will come out of this than bad, and I hope a 22-year old Joe Schmo will have the chance to cash in.

Lance Armstrong, Choosing Oprah Shows Weakness

By now you have probably heard that Lance Armstrong, probably the most popular cyclist of all time, has decided to come clean about his doping – that all seven of his Tour-de-France titles were won under circumstances not disclosed at his time of victory.

I’m glad Armstrong came clean. By doing so it reveals the seven-time champion could no longer support the weight of the monkey-turned-ape that has weighed on his shoulders since that first injection. It gives me hope he will use this to better himself as a person.

Earlier today my sister and I discussed his legacy. I support anyone who has raised over half-a-billion dollars for cancer research, and he now seems prepared to start a new chapter. Everyone deserves a second chance.

My sister took it from another angle: Why Oprah?

Why the loving, caring, everything’s-gonna-be-okay philanthropist who has limited connection to the sports world? Does Armstrong think he can soften the blow of an image crumble by coming clean to someone known to emphasize the good more than bad?

I had to agree.

To do what Armstrong has done — embarrass an entire sport for a full decade — I think you owe us an interview with Barbara Walters, Stephen A. Smith, Katie Couric, or someone of equal objectivity.

Say what you want about Alex Rodriguez, but he handled this situation better than anyone has so far: admit what you did as soon as you’re accused, accept an interview by a figure in the category above (Peter Gammons in this case), and try to move on.

While I have no doubt Oprah hit all the major points and conducted a professional, emotional, informational interview, I can’t help but think how it would be different if the interviewer was of a different breed. It’s tough to envision Ms. Winfrey unleashing caged anger on someone who single-handedly cheated an entire sport for so long. While I wouldn’t want to see him interviewed by a Tour-de-France beat writer, it would’ve been nice to see him answer the questions of someone more tied to the sports world.

Does his choice of Oprah show he’s not mature enough to accept the beat down he deserves? Or am I over thinking it? For someone who has put on an act of this magnitude for this long, I think we have every right to micromanage.

But who knows? Maybe for the first time we’ll see the cycling fan side of Oprah. I heard every night she stays up late and watches cycling coverage on The Ocho.

Hey Peter Le Fleur, don’t quit on your team. Just do what I did and everything will be okay.

Sporcle of the Week: 2009 Yankees

My Giants got crushed today, so nostalgia pushed me toward the 2009 Yankees Sporcle: Name every player that played at least one game for the Yankees in 2009.

Two or three years ago I may have gotten 100%, but I’ll settle for 25 out of 45.

SPORCLE OF THE WEEK: 2009 YANKEES

To me, this World Series will forever be known as the one that saved me from a year of annoying Phillies fans. Rowan University was a good choice 🙂

Sporcle of the Week: Black Friday Edition

In honor of Black Friday and its great deals, this week’s Sporcle challenges you to name every $100+ million contract in MLB history. Ironic, but festive.

I impressed myself with 19 of 36.

I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving. Now we can get into the real holiday season!!

*TIP* Bang out all the Yankees first and go from there.
SPORCLE OF THE WEEK: MLB’s $100 MILLION CONTRACTS

A-Rod for Alfonso Soriano version 2013: The Perfect Trade

Alex Rodriguez is a burden to the Yankees. His off-the-field attention plus on-the-field mediocrity has failed him in New York.

Yesterday the Mets made a bold (but smart) decision to remove Jason Bay despite the $21 million left on his contract. They decided it was time.

I think it’s A-Rod’s time.

But to lessen the financial blow, the Yankees could make a move that brings in a separate terrible contract.

Could the Yankees retrade A-Rod for Alfonso Soriano?

In 2004, the Yankees sent Soriano, cash, and a player to be named later (eventually Joaquin Arias who just won a World Series ring) for Rodriguez. It was the blockbuster trade that guaranteed the Yankees World Series titles for the next five years.

Today, it would be the blockbuster trade that ends A-Rod’s underachieving, borderline embarrassing run in the Big Apple.

Yes, the Yankees don’t need Soriano, or even want him, but a designated hitter, late-game pinch hitter, and occasional corner outfielder (Nick Swisher has played his last game in New York) would be of value.

Soriano’s team hasn’t won a playoff series since 2003. I’m sure he’ll trade a demotion for a real chance at a championship. Ichiro Suzuki did.

In what may be sports’ most immovable contract, Rodriguez is slated to make $114 million over the next five years – five more years of this.

No team will take him unless given a going-out-of-business discount. Plus, Rodriguez is a 10-5 player (ten years in the league, the latest five for the same team) so he can veto any trade.

With his home and heart in Florida, how about Rodriguez to the Rays, Soriano back to the Yankees, and Tampa prospects to the Chicago Cubs?

The poor, loveable loser Cubs have the equally inconvenient piece to rid. Soriano is owed $36 million over the next two years. If the Yankees pick up Soriano’s full contract, Chicago would gladly pay $36 million of Rodriguez’s contract to gain essentially “free” prospects and open up room on the roster. They might pay up to $40 million if the prospects are right.

The Yankees’ former second baseman strikes out way too much and is unequivocally overpaid – fits right in with the Yankees already. Chicago would jump to lower their salary, and I believe Soriano would return to New York (also a 10-5 player) where he was a fan favorite in the early 2000s.

The Yankees can rid themselves of the cancer into which Rodriguez has manifested and pay a smaller portion of his salary.

$114 million – $40 million = The Yankees eat $74 million.

The city of Miami wants Alex Rodriguez and vice versa. With A-Rod’s abysmal production since his fantastic 2009, the Yankees can probably get Miami to pay him $25 million over his last five years (including the prospect[s] they send to Chicago).

$74 million – $25 million ≈ $50 million

Proposed Trade:

Chicago Cubs
Get: Tampa prospects
Give away: 40 million to pad Rodriguez’s salary
Give away: Alfonso Soriano to Yankees

New York Yankees
Get: Alfonso Soriano
Give Away: Alex Rodriguez to Miami
Lose: The remaining $50 or-so million on Rodriguez’s contract

Miami Marlins
Get: Alex Rodriguez ($25 million over five years)
Give Away: A prospect or two to Chicago

When all is said and done, why cant this work?

Brian Cashman and the Yankees have declared publicly they are trying to get below the $180 million mark for luxury tax relief, and with Soriano they would only owe $18 million per year over the next two, versus  about $23 million per year over the next five.

The best trades are the ones where all parties improve. At this point in Rodriguez’s career, the Yankees will benefit from a divorce, the Cubs can win some prospects, and Miami gets street value for a fun, back-page player who wants to be there.

Do you think Derek Jeter could talk Scott Brosius out of retirement?