January 22, 2014

#Yankees get #Tanaka — but, can they win?

Not much to add, on the surface, beyond what others have said, about the Yankees signing of Japanese stud Masahiro Tanaka for 7 years and $155 million. But, I do have a few thoughts.

The four-year opt-out is interesting. Is this going to become more of a trend, at least among pitchers? And, if players and their agents want it, what about owners and GMs wanting to make it mutual.

I mean, what if Tanaka, or Clayton Kershaw, also with an opt-out, suddenly become Tim Lincecum and, all the brilliance that seemed to lay ahead now no longer does? If I'm a GM, I'm insisting that become a two-way street.

Second, when I saw the early numbers being floated, I expected at least six years, and more than $20M per year, which this is. So, no real surprises in the final numbers.

Third, is Robinson Cano now even more pissed, after this contract and the ones to Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury? Maybe at least as pissed as Albert Pujols two years ago? Will somebody in Seattle please stick a mike on him? Would be a diversion from Richard Sherman.

Fourth, how many years will you be above the lux tax limit?A bazillion, probably.

Fifth, can the Yankees compete? Can they win?

My answer? Maybe for a wild card. Barrying injuries (and hey, David Schoenfield, Boston was luckier that way last year, arguably, than the Cardinals) it's not going to be easy for New York to catch them.

Alex Rodriguez was still above league average at 3B, and Eduardo Nunez is not the long-term answer.. I don't expect Jeter to hit 2012 form this year. Mark Teixeira will decline further. You've got crap at 2B. You've got a horrible defensive infield. And, who knows how well the back half of the pitching staff will do on starters, or if Sabathia and Kuroda won't slip further. Plus, we don't know much about the whole bullpen, with Rivera's retirement.

All the changes are probably little more than treading water for a team that outperformed its Pythagorean by six games last year and no longer has Mo as an end-of-game safety blanket.

Another reason Yankee fans shouldn't jump up and down too much? As of the middle of next season, your likely starting lineup will all be 30 or older
The projected lineup of the New York Yankees, with their age as of July 1, 2014:
  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF, 30
  2. Derek Jeter, SS, 39
  3. Carlos Beltran, RF, 36
  4. Mark Teixeira, 1B, 33
  5. Brian McCann, C, 30
  6. Alfonso Soriano, DH, 38
  7. Brett Gardner, LF, 30
  8. Kelly Johnson, 3B, 31
  9. Brian Roberts, 2B, 36

Congratulations. You're likely now the official California Angels, only worse in some ways. Maybe a few games better, maybe not. At least Arte Moreno's still not in lux tax territory, let alone as a repeat offender.

I'll pencil you in at 85 wins, about the same as last year. Jonah Keri's in roughly the same frame of mind, saying the Yankees could still finish third in the AL East. If I'm generous, you get 88 wins, but still no more than a 50-50 shot at a wild card slot.

And, it doesn't get better after this year. Let's assume Jeter has brains and retires after this year. Who replaces him? Let's assume the Steinbrenners tire of the drama and dump A-Rod permanently at some point in the future. Who replaces him? Who's your long-term answer at second?

Let's for fun assume the Captain doesn't retire, and the Steinbrenners and Cashman decide to accept A-Rod back, in part because free agent third-basemen pretty much suck next year. Congrats! Most of your lineup is now guaranteed to be 31 or older. Whomever likely replaces Soriano at DH will probably be 30-plus.

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