The Latest Yankees Injury: First The Jokes, Then The Reality

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Mark Teixeira has a strained right wrist and will be out for 8-10 weeks.

Considering the age permeating the Yankees’ roster, Joe Pepitone would fit right in.

When Brian Cashman broke his right fibula and dislocated his ankle skydiving and doing his Flyin’ Brian act that turned out to be Flyin’ Brian Landin’ and Breakin’ His Bones, I compared him to George Costanza, a fictional former Yankees’ employee on Seinfeld. As an organization, the Yankees are playing out the Seinfeld episode in which Elaine starts acting like (and gets identical results) as George. “I’ve become George,” she exclaimed. Well, the Yankees have become the Mets. “We’ve become the Mets!!!” Expect to hear that soon. Only it’s worse. The Mets, in recent years, have grown so accustomed to bad things happening that it’s just sort of there like a goiter. With the Yankees, though, they’re expected to be in the World Series every year. The fans have deluded themselves into thinking that they should be treated as if they won the World Series the year before even if they got bounced in the first or second round of the playoffs or, perish the thought, didn’t make the playoffs at all. History must be altered; facts must be twisted; truth must be ignored—all options are on the table to maintain the alternate reality.

A panic-stricken Mike Francesa wants them to trade for Justin Morneau. This is based on the Twins rebuilding and that Morneau will be available. What he’s missing in his desperation is that while it’s logical that the Yankees, because of fan demands and ticket prices, can’t put a team with the likes of Dan Johnson at first base and Juan Rivera/Matt Diaz or some amalgam of rookies in left field joining a lineup with a catcher who might as well not even bring a bat to the park, the Twins are in a position of having to fill a new ballpark of their own and to put up a pretense of trying to be respectable, at least in the beginning of the season. There was a similar dynamic with Francisco Liriano a couple of years ago that the Twins were going to trade him to the Yankees before the season started. Why? Because the Yankees needed an arm? And this was while the Twins were expecting to actually compete for a playoff spot.

Yankees fans and apologists in the media still don’t get it. They don’t understand that the Yankees don’t get whatever they want. You’d think it would’ve sunk in by now, especially after Cliff Lee told them to take a hike, but it’s still not getting through. Also, immediately after this story broke, a fan called into Francesa’s show and said he wouldn’t be surprised if this Yankees team doesn’t make the playoffs.

Doesn’t make the playoffs? Here’s a clip for you:

Not only is this current configuration not making the playoffs, but without Curtis Granderson and Teixeira for extended periods; with Alex Rodriguez gone ‘til who knows when; with Derek Jeter returning from a serious injury; with the age on the pitching staff, they’re lucky to be a .500 team.

There’s not going to be a Morneau trade to the Yankees. It had better sink in that this is the future that they mortgaged for so long, kicking the need to rebuild down the road with Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera maintaining performance and staying healthy at an almost supernatural rate. Last year, all three got hurt. Now Teixeira, A-Rod and Granderson are out. Now, with the age on this team and the inability for older players to take special potions, pills and manufactured concoctions to get on the field, this is what happens to players of a certain age. They get hurt and they’re out for extended periods. They can’t play as well as they once did, nor can they recover as rapidly from the wear-and-tear of the games. It would be fine if the Yankees still had an offense that could possibly account for the age and decline of their core players, but they don’t. They made a conscious and stupid decision to let Eric Chavez and Raul Ibanez leave. Could they use those players as backups now?

All of a sudden, the absurd and uncharacteristic cheapness is spinning around on them and immediately blowing up in their faces. Fans are going to demand something drastic that’s not going to happen. They’d better get accustomed to the way things are and how they’ll be for the next two seasons. The type of player that will be available to them to play first base for the next couple of months is identical to the faceless cast of retread characters they have manning the outfield in Granderson’s absence—I’m talking about the Daric Barton-type from the Athletics. Barton has put up good on-base numbers when healthy, but he’s always hurt and makes Jason Giambi look like a Rhodes Scholar.

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2013 Yankees.

Get used to it and brace yourself. It gets worse from here.

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10 thoughts on “The Latest Yankees Injury: First The Jokes, Then The Reality

  1. I think most rational Yankees fans have been expecting a rapid demise like this for several seasons. The Yankees may suck for the next couple of years, but the moment the final out of the 2014 World Series is made, the handcuffs will be off.
    The Yankees will be flush with cash, and will overwhelm ALL opposition in the auctions for the best free agents. Nobody, not even the mighty Dodgers, can equal the financial resources of the Yankees. By 2016, the Yankee lineup will look like an All-Star roster once again.
    The Yankees also have s few high ceiling prospects due to arrive in the Bronx between 2014 and 2016. Among them are Mark Mongomery, Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, Manny Banuelos, Gary Sanchez, and Slade Heathcott. If a couple of these guys perform to their potential, the Yankees are going to be right back in 1st Place and will resume their seemingly perpetual playoff appearances.

    1. The looking forward to 2014 is a major risk. Players will take the most money, of course, but the Yankees no longer have the massive power over the rest of the sport that they once did with the emergence of the Dodgers’ new ownership; the Angels opening the vault; and the Phillies, Red Sox and Mets will have money to spend by then. Also players who would previously have been available because they priced themselves out of the smaller markets are signing long-term deals to stay with their current clubs. Andrew McCutchen is an example. Bryce Harper and Mike Trout will never see free agency and the pickings won’t be as vast as the Yankees are accustomed to.
      It can’t be forgotten that the Yankees late 1990s dynasty was built on homegrown talent, not by checkbook general managing. They need to cultivate new youngsters and the odds of them replicating what they did—with luck as well as talent—with Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte and Posada is hard to repeat.
      Given the way the hot prospects of the last few years have flamed out and done pretty much nothing while with the Yankees (Chamberlain, Kennedy and Hughes), it’s a little delusional to think these young players in the low minors will automatically develop and become stars.

  2. Grant Brisbee was writing about this at Baseball Nation the other day, about the fact that having a core like the Yankees have had defy the natural aging curve for a decade and a half is an astonishing and almost unprecedented run of good luck. However, unlike you, he won’t believe they’ve lost the rabbit’s foot until he sees it.

    Me, I’d like to believe it, there’d probably be a lot less mindless Mets-bashing if the Yankees do fall from grace, and they certainly are overdue. Logic would tell you it’s about to happen. But considering that they sprinkled moondust in Ichiro’s hair last year and turned him into a hitter again at age 400, and resurrected Raul frickin’ Ibanez from the crypt too, I don’t wanna jinx this jinx too much.

    1. Ibanez was no shock that he was productive. Yankee Stadium was conducive to his swing and he still produced with the Phillies.
      Ichiro was bottom line luckier than he was with the Mariners. What I will say about him is that his attitude was a total turnaround from when he was with the Mariners, but that could’ve come from the veterans in the Yankees’ clubhouse and that they had a chance to win. If they’re at (or under) .500 in June, you’ll see Ichiro looking for singles to pad his batting average.
      The Mets-bashing comes from Yankee fans who see the success over the past two decades as a birthright. They’ve got a nice blast of reality coming. Then the bandwagon will empty. They’re not welcome with the Mets.

      1. Hey, don’t forget about the infamous Yankee Strike Zone (TM), which is about a foot smaller in diameter (for hitters) than it is in Seattle! (Or Queens for that matter.) Of course, a bad year or two for the team (and/or Jeter being forced to retire) and that would go bye-bye too.

        And some of the worst bashing of the Mets comes from writers who are (or were?) ostensibly fans, like Rubin or Megdal. Granted, Jeffy being as utterly dislikable and clueless as he is (and Fred being somewhere in la-la land mentally) does not help matters, but really, that shouldn’t extend to dumping on the players. But then, Rubin and Megdal probably reflexively hate Sandy because they think they should have gotten his job.

      2. Oh, if the Yankees have a bad year this year, Jeter’s going to have them by the balls. The last thing they’ll need is for Jeter to abandon ship simultaneous to Rivera and maybe Pettitte retiring coming off an 83-79 (or worse) record and a fourth place finish with Cano on the way to Los Angeles.
        You’re right about the writers thinking they could do the GM job better than the actual GM. It’s fundamentally ludicrous, but it doesn’t stop them.

  3. The funniest (or saddest) part of the Yankees’ current predicament might be the utter failure on the part of Yankee fans to understand basic market dynamics. First, who (or what) would they even trade for a player of Morneau’s caliber? Injured frequently as he has been over the past few seasons, I would be inclined to believe that the Twins would want some form of compensation—whether in the form of players or cash. The Yankees apparently have neither. Otherwise they would not be panicking so readily; the Yankees would already have the reserve personnel in place.

    Second, why would the Twins dump Morneau for the table scraps of the New York Yankees? The Yankees are evidently desperate to replace valuable players. Assuming that the Twins have a modicum of business sense, they will milk the Yankees for everything they can get before they consider trading Morneau. The Yankees are not negotiating from strength; they’re weak right now, and everyone in baseball can see it. (Yankee fans, however, may be the exception to “everyone” in terms of perceptiveness at this time.)

    My sense is that the Yankees are internally aware of their limitations yet remain unprepared to publicly own the fact that their resources are truly limited. But the signs are still very evident. If the bizarre off-season decisions (i.e., letting helpful pieces drift quietly off into the free agent market), the ongoing A-Rod fiasco, and continued slashing of payroll aren’t clear enough to Yankee fans, then it is going to be a very long trek through the wilderness.

    In short, I think you’re spot on about the self-delusion. I expect that very soon (if it hasn’t happened already) Yankee fans will begin to erect defense mechanisms, e.g., “Oh, I always knew they were going to lose.” Should the situation grow worse, they will need to construct quite a few more.

    1. When the Yankee fans are cornered and reality starts to set in, they retreat to the “we’re the Yankees, give us what we want,” template. They and the club had that attitude so many times with free agents who not so much as “rejected” the Yankees, but chose to go elsewhere. It happened over 30 years ago with Rod Carew and a couple of years ago with Cliff Lee. “You don’t want to be a YANKEE?!? HOW DARE YOU!!! We didn’t want you anyway. I hope you blow out your elbow.”
      The thing that I find strange (and somewhat understandable given history) is that they expect the franchise to be lying about saving money, but telling the truth about everything else like not knowing about A-Rod’s PED use or the prancing around as to whether they offered Cano an extension or not. It’s either-or. Either they’re telling the truth about the austerity and everything else or they’re lying about everything.
      Morneau is probably available for a mother lode of stuff—stuff the Yankees don’t have. But the Twins also need to sell some tickets so it makes no plausible sense to send him to the Yankees unless the Yankees drastically overpay, but they don’t have anything to overpay with. It’s a reality they’re not accepting. People like Francesa think that because he demands it, it will be so. History has proven that not to be the case. These are the Yankees and the sooner their fans accept and get used to it, the better.

  4. Morneau’s also a FA after this year. It’s almost a certainty that unless he completely stinks out the joint this year, the Twins will make him a QO. That means that if Ryan trades him, he loses the sandwich pick he’d have gotten if he’d kept Morneau, made the QO, and then Morneau left.

    So the Yankees had better be offering something better for Morneau than what would be available to the Twins in the first sandwich round this year. And if they have a couple of players that good, why wouldn’t the Yankees want to keep them, rather than burn them on a guy who’s likely to get benched when the far more expensive Tex returns from the DL, and then leave after the season? That farm system is not producing bumper crops like it used to.

    1. I’m almost positive that if Morneau is having a good comeback season and the Twins are going nowhere at mid-season, Ryan will trade him in June/July, but he’s not giving him away and he’s certainly not giving him away to the Yankees before the season starts.

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