“I’m surprised,” a disingenuous Hal Steinbrenner told the press yesterday in Arizona, “to hear that there’s anger if you see what we’ve done this offseason.” Well, I would just call it anger, Hal. There’s also a lot of frustration, derision, and lethargy out there.
“We’ve signed three or four of the biggest free agents on the market,” the Yankees managing general partner said. “We’re pretty happy with that.” On hearing this, the hearts of millions of Yankees fans everywhere began to beat wildly: what news of major deals was about to be announced?
Palpitating hearts were immediately stilled when we found out what Steinbrenner meant: “It’s great to have Andy [Pettitte] back and Haroki [Kuroda] and Ichiro [Suzuki].” Ah, yes, once again, the old Yankees game of resigning their aging players and then selling them back to us with the brag that the Yankees bagged “some of the biggest free agents on the market.”
And let’s not forget Kevin Youkilis. “I’m excited about that,” Steinbrenner wnet on. “I’ve always liked him as a player.” Yes, we like Youkilis, too. But he’ll be 34 in March and hit .236 last year. What exactly is there here to be excited about? Comforting might be a better word with A-Rod on the operating table, at least with the acquisition of Youkilis we’ll know that when a ball is hit down the third base line it probably won’t keep going until it hits the left field wall. Beyond that, things are beginning to seem desperate.
But, “As I’ve said all along, the young players that have stepped up are going to have to continue to do so, and some of the ones that haven’t yet are going to have to.” Umm, exactly which young players? You mean perhaps Jesus Montero, the kid who hit 15 home runs last year? Oh, sorry, not him–he’s on the Seattle Mariners now. Exactly which young Yankees are going to have to step forward?
What all of Steinbrenner’s evasiveness and double talk is designed to get around is precisely the fact that the Yankees don’t have any hot young talent ready to step up. And if they did, the Yankees’ 2013 season wouldn’t look as if were running neck-in-neck with the Mets. Once again, neglect of the farm system has left the Yankees looking at a bleak winter with little leverage for deals and little choice but to resign grizzled old veterans.
Last year, “Obviously nobody is happy with the end results, but we still had a hell of a record and a hell of a season, and I’m proud of that.” If you’re not happy about where the team ended up, then what exactly is there to be happy about? Well, I suppose we can all be happy that the Steinbrenners achieved their stated goal of bringing in a payroll of under $189 million. How about printing T-shirts for the coming season that say, “The Best Team In Under The Luxury Tax Threshold Could Buy.”