Yankees to Head in Different Direction


Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia figures to be the anchor of the rotation again as the team tries to reach the World Series. (Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press/MCT)
Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia figures to be the anchor of the rotation again as the team tries to reach the World Series. (Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press/MCT)

A new year, a new team, a new payroll, but one thing remains the same for the Bronx Bombers: the goal of reaching the World Series.

Critics in 2013 will not be so quick to jump on the Yankee bandwagon. It seems as if they aren’t the favorite to win for the first time in a long time. The American League (AL) East is as competitive as it has ever been. Now, with the addition of José Reyes to the Blue Jays, the wizard-like managing of Buck Showalter and the wise signing decisions of the Boston Red Sox, it seems like the Yankees are in for a challenge in a year where they saw the front office limit how much they can spend over the winter due to their new approach on salaries.

Even though George Steinbrenner would have not agreed to the new way of the Yankees front office, one thing is certain: he did anything to win at all costs, a type of competitiveness New Yorkers have been accustomed to since drafting Derek Jeter. With the win-at-all-costs approach, the last thing the Yankees thought they would have to give up is spending money in the winter.

There were plenty of re-signings this offseason along with players avoiding arbitration, including right-hand pitchers David Robertson, Joba Chamberlin, Hiroki Kuroda, and Phil Hughes, left-handed pitcher Boone Logan, left fielder Bret Gardner, center fielder Curtis Granderson and outfielder Ichiro Suzuki. While most of the core remains intact, this offseason saw fewer acquisitions than the fans are accustomed to.

In free agency, things went a bit differently. Losing outfielder Nick Swisher will be a big blow for the locker room and the home run production. The on-base percentage likely won’t suffer however, with former Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis, the king of walks, joining the bombers. The face of the Yankees has indeed changed over the past few months, but losing Swisher and Russell Martin won’t necessarily keep them out of the playoffs.

Now, though last season’s stopgap closer Rafael Soriano gone to the Nationals, all-time great Mariano Rivera is back to reclaim his position. Rivera, possibly the greatest closer of all time, is out to prove he still has some gas left in the tank. One aspect of the Yankees that cannot be overlooked is their experience at every single position, and it starts with the captain. Shortstop Jeter, who has spent the offseason rehabbing from ankle surgery, will have to lead this squad into the playoffs with much of the motivation and experience necessary for them to have a chance.

Time is of the essence for this incarnation of the Yanks, as next offseason will be the most important offseason for the Yankees since 2009, when the the late Steinbrenner was  writing big checks to players like Mark Teixeira, A.J. Burnett and C.C. Sabathia. This winter, second baseman Robinson Cano’s contract is up. Arguably the most talented second basemen in the game today will be demanding top dollar and keeping Cano is a top priority. If winning big remains as high on the Yankees list, then re-signing him is the right move.

All things considered, it’s fair to bet that the Yankees will win the AL East again. Their experience alone is an aspect of the locker room that cannot be matched. A 95-win season is well within sight and will be enough to capture a playoff berth. With luck enough to have a healthy ball club going down the stretch, the Yankees could well make the Series once again.