2014 American League East Preview: New York Yankees

We’re now less than a week away from opening day of the 2014 baseball season (while that whole thing in Australia was fun, I’m not considering it the “real” opening day).  As we count down the remaining days of spring training this week, Orioles Proving Ground will be asking some of our friends to answer somewhat important questions about the Orioles American League East foes.

Today, Dave Watts tries to keep his emotions in check as he answers questions about the New York Yankees. Below are links to the teams we’ve already looked at.

Tampa Bay Rays | New York Yankees | Toronto Blue Jays | Boston Red Sox

Orioles Proving Ground: Before the season, the Yankees made a whole lot of noise about keeping their payroll underneath the luxury tax limit of $189 million, only to eventually blow past it.  At any point this offseason, did you actually believe that they would try to stay under that limit?  Why or why not?

Dave Watts: This is less a question about what I believe, and more a question of if I care or not. The answer is NO. The only baseball fans that care about the Yankees payroll are Yankees detractors. “Waaah the Yankees spend too much money, it’s not fair <insert crying emoticon here>”. Tear, tear, shut the hell up.

If the Yankees end 2014 as the winners of their 28th World Series, it won’t be with an asterisk indicating they over-shot their annual pay-roll projections. Fans won’t be having muted celebrations. The ticker tape parade through the Canyon of Heroes won’t be called off. The Yankees sports and entertainment conglomerate will still be a highly valued, highly profitable organization, and Jeter will still get laid. Case closed.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not promoting poor business practices, or a “whatever it takes to win” business mentality. The Yankees baseball team and associated business ventures are for profit business, and should be run as such. The Yankees have a larger bank roll than all of their competitors. It’s asinine to suggest they shouldn’t use it. The only thing I care about as a fan is that they use it wisely. Just because they can over-pay, doesn’t mean they should, A-Rod being a prime example of that.

Maybe management was naïve in their projections, or maybe it was just a bold-faced lie. However, I, as a fan and a consumer, really don’t care. It’s not like they told me that if I liked my health insurance I could keep it.

OPG: Derek Jeter announced that the 2014 season will be his last.  At what points in the season will you experience each of the 5 stages of grief?

DW: First, I just want to say that you are a dick for even asking me this.

I’m going to be in Denial until the 2015 season starts, all in hope that Jeter can and will pull a Favre. Of course, I only want him to do this after he goes out on top, hitting above .300 and pulling off some other things that 40 year olds shouldn’t be able to do. One of my worst fears as a fan is that he’ll go out with a whimper; that 2014 will look like 2013 instead of 2012.

But forget the stages of grief, because this year is going to be awesome. The media puff pieces on Jeter will be never-ending. I’ll watch every Top-10 Jeter moment on every channel, even whatever they show on ESPN Deportes. I don’t need to know what they are saying to know it’s awesome. The national and New York sports media LOVE Derek Jeter, and that love will manifest into glorious reminiscing of his career. I’m fist pumping just thinking about it. Seriously, I just did this:

Jetes

As for the other stages of grief:

Anger won’t happen. What could I seriously be angry about? Someday I get to tell my kids, wherever they are, about Derek Jeter, the same way my dad got to tell me about Mickey Mantle. Except with Jeter, there won’t be as many “what ifs?”.  As great as Mantle was, there will always be a feeling that he could have been even greater; the heir to Ruth, if lifestyle, booze, and injuries didn’t get in the way. To a lesser extent, the same can be said about Don Mattingly. If only he didn’t have that back injury. It’s frustrating to think about. When looking back on Jeter’s career, the biggest “what if” I’ll have is if he could have broken Pete Rose’s record of 4,256 hits (Jeter sits at 3,316). Jeter turns 40 this year. Rose played until he was 45. I think Jeter could do it if he wanted to, but Rose didn’t exactly go out at the top of his game.

Earlier this year I was walking through Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Pete Rose was signing autographs inside a small sports memorabilia shop. No one was in line and he looked miserable. Hits record notwithstanding, I’d rather be Derek Jeter.

Bargaining: I think I just answered that. I won’t be angry, because I won’t need to bargain with myself. Jeter reached his potential.

As for Depression, I’ll probably only hit this stage if Jeter has an awful year. As I stated earlier, it’s my worst fan fear. Check that, finding out Jeter used PEDs is my worst long-term fan fear. For this coming season, if he plays at a respectable level, and I get my positive Jeter media coverage, I’ll be a happy man.

Now, Acceptance goes hand-in-hand with denial, and that is going to take a while. Let me fill you in a little secret. In the beginning of 1996, I didn’t like Derek Jeter. I had just turned 14 years old. The Yankees were coming off of their first post-season appearance of my life-time, a heart-breaking 3-2 series loss to the Seattle Mariners (after winning the first two games). Don Mattingly retired, replaced by Tino Martinez. Our shortstop was Tony Fernandez, and I liked him. Who the HELL was this Derek Jeter guy. The rest, as they say, is history. As for acceptance, considering it took some time for me to accept Derek Jeter replacing Tony Fernandez, I’ll let you do the math…dick.

OPG: Between recent injuries and ineffectiveness, the Yankees projected starting infield (Tex, BRob, Jetes, and …umm, Kelly Johnson, who really needs a nickname now that I think about it) probably doesn’t inspire confidence in most people.  Do any of these players even reach 100 games played at their respective position in 2014, and if so, who do you think has the best chance?

DW: First things first. KJ? K-Jo? Not A-Rod? We just need to wait until he hits his first homerun and John Sterling will come up with something.

This is a tough question, partially because I don’t want to face the reality of it. I’m actually worried anything I say here will jinx the possibility of these guys having strong, full seasons. Tex makes it over 100. He’s only 33 and basically didn’t play last year. Not-Arod has a good chance too. I think Roberts will put up rejuvenated numbers for a while, but I’m unsure of his longevity. That leaves Jeter. I abstain.

OPG: Jacoby Ellsbury is poised to become a favorite of the ladies when Jeter retires. Any chance Jeter gives him advice on how to properly prepare a “morning after” gift basket?

DW: This is a very presumptuous question.  Let’s get one thing straight; Jeter is retiring from the baseball field, not THE FIELD. Ellsbury isn’t poised to become anything relative to Jeter. As the new guy, he’ll probably be putting together Jeter’s “morning after” baskets, FOR FREE. That’s the advice he’ll get from Jeter. Learn by doing.

At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how many signed (base) balls Ellsbury gives out to his lady lovers. If he wants to fill Jeter’s shoes on the baseball field and THE FIELD, he better put some rings on it. Preferably 5 or more.

OPG: This offseason Robinson Cano apparently got fat.  Do you have a theory as to why he would let himself go like that?

DW: I think that’s just probably where he keeps his loads of extra cash. Some athletes just don’t have good business sense, and I’m going to put Cano in that category. Banks? Nah, not for Cano. He’s keeping that cash close.

Yeah, I’m bitter, but I’d like to think I make a bit of sense too. Cano left the media capital of the world to go play for SEATTLE?!?! He took playing salary over marketability. Jeter is leaving. Cano was the new face of the team. He left the Dominican population center of the US.

DR

Being the best player on the New York Yankees makes you bigger than life. Being the best player on the Seattle Mariners makes you that guy that will never be Ken Griffey Jr. Then again, this is all the Yankees’ fault in the first place. If they never negotiated against themselves and signed A-Rod to a 10-year, $275M contract, through his 42nd year of life, guys like Cano wouldn’t be able to get 10-year, $240M deals. I can’t blame Cano for taking the money and job security, but I think this move will be detrimental to the over-all arch of his career and his future marketability.

As to why he got fat, besides the cash strapped to his abdomen, he had to load up on good Dominican food before he took his ass out to the great northwest.

OPG: Prediction?

DW: 95 wins, 1st in the AL East

2 Responses to “2014 American League East Preview: New York Yankees”

  1. […] semi-coherent analysis of the Baltimore Orioles « 2014 American League East Preview: New York Yankees […]

  2. […] Bay Rays | New York Yankees | Toronto Blue Jays | Boston Red […]

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