We left yesterday off with Jeter’s fractured ankle and Game 1 of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers, which the Tigers won in extra innings following the Captain’s injury. Three games later, the Tigers swept through the deflated Yankees before they themselves got swept by the waiting San Francisco Giants, led by Buster Posey, Pablo “Panda” Sandoval, and a slew of remarkable pitchers. (About 3 months later, another San Francisco team tried to win another championship, but it was Baltimore who took home the Superbowl rings that night. There must be something in the water there…)
Derek Jeter’s fractured ankle and subsequent surgery to repair it the following week was the first of several colorful off-season stories. Shortly after the season ended for the Yankees, pitching ace CC Sabathia underwent surgery on his elbow to repair a bone spur. A doctor finally put a cause to Alex Rodriguez’s decline (much to the chagrin of the haters) and scheduled a January surgery on his left hip, similar to a 2009 procedure on his right hip. While Sabathia will be ready for Opening Day, Alex will be out until at least the 2013 All-Star Break (July 16 is exactly 6 months from his surgery, so a solid recovery and rehabilitation should get him back on the field by August at the latest).
Yes, there is an ongoing investigation into some links with the now-infamous South Florida clinic regarding the possibility of PED usage or consultations. But until the MLB completes their investigation, I don’t want to opine or stipulate or assume. PEDs are evil on their own merit, so until there are conclusive statements from officials, I won’t give it another thought or comment on this blog.
The Yankees picked up their options (predictably) on Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson, re-signed several key players (Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and Ichiro Suzuki), and saw many other good free agents get snapped up by waiting teams — Eric Chavez (Arizona), Freddy Garcia (San Diego), Raul Ibanez (Seattle), Andruw Jones (Japan), Russell Martin (Pittsburgh), Nick Swisher (Cleveland), and Rafael Soriano (Washington).
The two biggest pick-ups for the team were Kevin Youkilis (long-time former Red Sox) to fill in for Alex Rodriguez at 3rd base while he recovers and DH Travis Hafner (long-time former Indian) to fill in the role left vacant by Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones. Already Youkilis is finding the media around the Yankees is much different from what he’s used to with Boston, but I’m willing to bet that with a little encouragement from the veterans, Youk can learn the art of the cliché and vague comments we’ve come to love from the Bronx. Hafner has yet to make an official appearance at Spring Training, so we’ll find out soon enough how these two veterans in their own right settle into their Pinstripes.
I know there was a lot of flack regarding the relatively quiet off-season, but I have to agree with some of the remarks made by the front office recently. First, the Yankees weren’t in a position to grab a high-priced free agent because they are trying to cut their expenses and not pay that luxury tax again (how did this not get resolved 20 years ago during the strike I’ll never know, but that’s for another day’s entry). And second, there were only a handful of really quality free agents this year (which they weren’t going to spend the money on anyway), and if the Yankees are known for anything, it’s going after the quality acquisitions, perhaps with some minor missteps along the way, but quality still overall. 2014 does have quite a few free agents ready to ask for the moon come the off-season — including Cano and Granderson.
With the high possibility of several big retirements coming at the end of this year or even in 2015, this could be the last full year of this team as is, steeped in the history-makers of the last 20 years of the game. 2014 may have a completely different clubhouse, which could cause much disturbance among the “message board managers”.
But right now, we’re still looking at the core team we love for this year. The first week of Spring Training is nearly over and its stories are minor in comparison, predictable even. But isn’t that what we’ve come to expect from the team? Predictability, stability, and hard-work? That sounds exactly like what’s happening in Tampa to me.