This is the boiling point.
The Yankees didn’t just lose Thursday afternoon/night’s 18-inning marathon with the Athletics because they couldn’t buy a hit after the first inning. They also lost because they half-assed their way through an offseason in which they deemed it acceptable to downgrade all over the field despite a) winning the division by the skin of their teeth last year, and b) knowing it was very likely going to be Mariano Rivera‘s final season. Real nice going away present. That surfboard the A’s gave him today was more respectful.
New York has done a real good job of finding veteran complementary pieces on low-risk, short-term deals in recent years, but this winter it became their primary team-building strategy. It’s all they did. Best of all, they started giving some of those retreads multi-year contracts and assuming a whole bunch of risk. Vernon Wells has
sucked SUCKED for the last two years and five of the last seven, but apparently the magic of the pinstripes was supposed to bring his bat back from the dead. He and Ichiro were expected to form some kind of Frankenstein corner outfield monster that defied age and hit like it was 2005. That was their strategy. A real Major League team did this.
Best of all, they’re paying those two wastes of a roster spot — not to mention Kevin Youkilis, what a gem of a signing that has been — a combined $26M through next year, when they’re trying to cut payroll below the luxury tax threshold for no other reason than to save the Steinbrenners some money. Want to slash payroll and line your pockets? Fine. But don’t talk to me like I’m idiot and say you’re committed to building a “championship-caliber” team and you signed “three of the best free agents” over the winter. Get bent. At least speak the truth, then maybe your five-year old Stadium won’t be half-empty and the YES Network’s ratings won’t be in the toilet.
Of course, the team’s reliance on over-the-hill has-beens could have been mitigated if the farm system Brian Cashman has been talking about since getting his “autonomy” in 2005 actually produced a competent everyday player once in a while. Eduardo Nunez? Frankie Cervelli? lol. I’m sure Zoilo Almonte will come ride in on a white horse to save the day. The Yankees have done a fine job talking the talk when it comes to building from within and developing their own players, but they’ve fallen flat on their face when it comes to walking the walk. Outside of the Mariners, I’m not sure any team has gotten less from more out of their farm system than New York in recent years.
The Yankees lost on Thursday because they’re desperate. Desperate to hold onto the last glimmer of success from the dynasty years and afraid (unable?) to adapt and move forward with a new chapter in franchise history. Now they’re left with this laughable relic of a roster that is caught between being not truly good enough to contend and not bad enough to completely tear down and rebuild. It’s a very dangerous place to be, just ask the Phillies.
The Athletics swept the Yankees this series because they are the much better team, from top to bottom. Now the Bombers will go to Anaheim to face an Angels team that should serve as a scary warning should they not wise up and improve the way they go about building the club. The decision to willfully downgrade the roster this winter was a disgusting display of arrogance and cockiness from a team that claims it wants to give its fans a contender every year. Actions speak louder than words, and the actions say the club lacks direction.