City Sports Report

New York Yankees face off season full of questions

A-Rod3

Last winter, the plan for the New York Yankees was to honor ownership’s intentions of fielding a team with a payroll under the $189 million luxury tax threshold. The final result was the Yankees signing Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, and Masahiro Tanaka to nearly half-a-billion dollars in current-and-future salary.

Call it an extreme case of wishful thinking.

The change in approach by the Yankees didn’t provide the results they were hoping for in 2014.  Ellsbury was good, however Beltran and McCann struggled all season. Tanaka was extraordinary for the Yankees until he hurt his elbow. The Yankees failed to make the playoffs for the second year in a row, only the third time in the last 20 years. It was not the vision general manager Brian Cashman had in mind, especially for team captain and icon Derek Jeter’s final season.

This offseason once again comes with plenty of question marks the Yankees must address. This is a team with gaping holes all over the roster. It’s shaping up to be Cashman’s most challenging winter to date as the team’s general manager.

Pride is what arguably led to the Yankees changing course with their spending last winter.  It will most likely be the same a year later. The term rebuilding is not one that fits into the everyday vocabulary of this team. The objective remains the same, anything less than a championship for the Yankees is considered a failure.

For a team that’s been as successful as the Yankees, the yearly championship or bust mentality makes for a thin line separating pride and logic. This is the line Cashman and his staff tightrope every winter.

The Yankees have major concerns at shortstop, third base, the outfield, and in the starting rotation. Derek Jeter has retired, however Alex Rodriguez is returning. Overall depth should be a top concern for Cashman this winter. The Yankees have been decimated by injuries the last two seasons. Beltran, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and Ivan Nova all missed considerable portions of 2014. No matter what high-profile additions the Yankees make for 2015, the makeup of the roster’s core players still remains older and prone to injury.

No one knows what to expect from Rodriguez in 2015. He’ll be a 40-year old third baseman, a year removed from baseball, and coming off a suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. Rodriguez has three years, $61 million remaining on his contract with the Yankees.  He gets another $6 million by hitting just six more home runs and tying Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time list with 660. He has more than enough incentive to remain a fixture in the Yankees plan, even though they’d probably wish for a cheaper alternative.

Chase Headley is one name to keep an eye on this winter as a contingency plan for Rodriguez. Headley was a trade-deadline acquisition who plays a solid third base and filled in at first base for Teixeira. The Yankees may want to get a deal done before other interested teams begin to aggressively pursue him.

It’s always fun whenever the Yankees are in the hunt for free agents.  It seems as if there is no bottom to their spending. However, history has proven this method has not produced winning results on the field nearly as much as it does with headlines off of it.

If Cashman and the Yankees are going to be big spenders again this winter, it may be in their best interest to spread the money around to players who bring value and can contribute as role players on a team that’s still heavily invested in plenty of star power … although aging.

Somehow I just don’t think that’s going to be the final result.  When it’s all said and done, history has way of being right when it comes to this team.

Anthony Rushing is a contributing writer for CitySportsReport.com, you can follow Anthony on Twitter @AnthonyRushing_

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