The Yankees have not aged well.
I foreshadowed their collapse in 2010 in an article entitled "End of the Evil Empire." The signs were all there back then. The Yankees allowed themselves to be held hostage by aging heroes of their vintage past. The Yankees clung to Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettite like a child would cling to a teddy bear in the comforts of their bed during a thunderstorm.
The Yankees invested a large portion of their payroll on players (include Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson) who rarely saw the field. When they did see the field, they under-performed. More accurately, those players began showing their age.
The Yankees are still locked into a pitcher, CC Sabathia, for another three years and $71 million who has as many miles on him as a city transit bus. The 33-year-old had his worst season last year posting a 4.78 ERA.
The Yankees passed on keeping reliever Rafael Soriano a season ago. Soriano filled in admirably for an injured Mariano Rivera in 2012, saving 42 games. But Rivera was coming back for one more year, and Soriano wanted to be a closer somewhere.
Exciting young players like Brett Gardner have seen their path to playing time blocked by aging veterans like Andruw Jones, Raul Ibanez, Ichiro Suzuki, Alfonso Soriano, and Vernon Wells. Every successful team needs a player like Gardner. Take a look at the stats, and there isn't much of a difference between Gardner and Ellsbury (except in the dollars column). And Gardner has proven to be more durable than Ellsbury.
There was a time when free agents longed to play for the New York Yankees.
Times have changed.
First time I noticed this was in 2010 when Cliff Lee jilted the Yankees and signed with the Philadelphia Phillies instead. Despite the Yankees offering a ton more money, Lee chose the Phillies. The other two big free agents that year-- Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth-- also chose to go elsewhere.
While the Red Sox restocked their farm system, the Yankees tried to stick gum in the cracks of the dike. They brought in over-the-hill former superstars like Freddy Garcia, Ichiro, Jones, Ibanez, and Wells.
Friday came word that Robinson Cano-- a veritable baby on the Yankees at the age of 31-- chose to play in Seattle rather than stay in New York. Seattle? Granted, he had 240 million reasons to do so, but still. I don't think the endorsement deals will be flowing in out in the Great Northwest.
Cano was one of the few players the Yankees had home grown. He was suppose to take the baton that had been passed from Don Mattingly to Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte, and Posada. Posada is long gone. Rivera and Pettitte just retired. Jeter might as well be retired.
Cano took a look around, saw the kingdom that was being handed to him, and decided to bolt to the doom and gloom of Seattle.
How do the Yankees hope to replace Cano's 30 home runs, 110 RBI, .310 average, and slick defense? Thirty-one-year-old journeyman Kelly Johnson? Another 31-year-old journeyman utility infielder Omar Infante? It's laughable... unless you're a Yankees fan.
The Yankees did sign Jacoby Ellsbury (before losing Cano) and Carlos Beltran (immediately after losing Cano).
Ellsbury gets $152 million for the next seven years. I already wrote this week about why I think the Yankees made a huge mistake with this signing. It reeks of more dead money.
Ditto for Beltran. The Yankees just don't learn. Instead of trying to get younger, they're investing $45 million and three years on a 36-year-old outfielder with balky knees.
That doesn't even begin to address their pitching woes. There are too many blanks to fill in. David Robertson will step into the closer role, but who pitches before him. The starting rotation looks like CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, and pray it's over. The Yankees hope Michael Pineda can rebound from a lost season due to shoulder surgery. Reports are the Yankees signed Hiroki Kuroda to one more year at $16 million. Perfect fit for New York-- 38-year-old who is declining rapidlly (1-7 record and 5.40 ERA in August/September last season).
The Yankees are in trouble, not just for 2014, but for the foreseeable future. They have no help in the minor leagues. They have no trade bait. They've misspent their money. Their best player, Robinson Cano, is gone. Their Hall-of-Fame closer is retired. Their "ace" looks like he should be retiring soon. And they still have A-Rod.