let’s look at the money the Yankees spent in the offseason, and see if hindsight might improve what the Yankees did. There are just a couple of ground rules:
• I’m not going to contemplate what they could have done with the salaries of Mariano Rivera and Robinson Cano, because neither of them were going anywhere.
• I won’t search for a first baseman, as the Mark Teixeira injury came relatively late in the offseason. Same goes with the [Curtis] Granderson injury and looking for another starting outfielder. That’s a little too much hindsight.
Excluding the Rivera/Cano salaries, the Yankees committed $83.5 million this offseason… [Hiroki] Kuroda and [Andy] Pettitte were probably the best options, and there’s no point in seeing what else the Yankees could have done with the money.. [Kevin] Youkilis is an overpay, most likely, but he was just about the only option for a team looking for a starting third baseman… and I think the [Travis] Hafner deal was a decent gamble, too, so he stays…
there are three [offseason acquisitions] left, and they’re all outfielders. Ichiro, [Vernon] Wells, and [Brennan] Boesch will combine to make just under $28 million over the next two years. Let’s look at a couple of combinations that might have been more appealing than that waking nightmare of a potential outfield:
Torii Hunter ($26 million)... Cody Ross, Nate Schierholtz, and Geovany Soto ($29 million)... Scott Hairston, Eric Chavez, Maicer Izturis, and A.J. Pierzynski ($25.5 million)... Russell Martin and Ichiro ($30 million)... Ichiro, Juan Pierre, Yorvit Torrealba, and, hell, I don’t know, Rick Ankiel, with the rest of the money going into a slush fund for one heckuva holiday party ($15 million)... Ichiro, Delmon Young, Cody Ransom, and Miguel Olivo (converted to 3B for the hell of it) ($15 million or so)... Danny Murphy, Donnie Murphy, David Murphy (trade), and Dale Murphy ($7 million and prospects)... Ichiro and a Free Cockapoo Puppy at the Park promotion (first 25,000) ($26 million)
.... here’s the main point: If there was $13 million to spend on an emergency Vernon Wells, how was there not enough money to sign a catcher?... the decision to spend on Wells, even if prompted by injuries, means that they had a little wiggle room in the payroll the whole time. The didn’t spend it on a catcher. They didn’t spend it on an outfielder who was a better bet than Ichiro. They spent it on Vernon Wells…
You can’t blame the Yankees for the fastball that broke Granderson or the unexpected aches of Teixeira. Apart from that spate of bad luck, the offseason was prudent and calculated for the Yanks. Until we found out there was a slush fund for emergencies, that is. Now that we know that—and how they used it—we can wonder openly what the Yankees were thinking.