The New York Yankees have been the gold standard for professional sports franchises for nearly a century. Throughout their storied history, the Yankees have accumulated 40 World Series appearances, bringing home 27 world championships – the most in professional sports history.
The Yankees built their baseball empire by accumulating proven veteran talent, fierce loyalty to their iconic stars and the ability to outspend any other major league club for players who help them contend for championships immediately.
While this tactic has been the Yankees’ blueprint for countless championship runs, it involves gutting their farm system year after year and shipping promising young talent away for proven yet aging players.
While it is hard to fathom how the Yankees have been such a successful franchise despite mortgaging their future every couple of years, their endless budget provides a viable solution.
Like all empires that overreach their boundaries, however, the Yankees are long overdue for a collapse. The 2013 season will be the beginning of the end of the New York Yankees dynasty.
Three of the Yankees’ best players have sustained injuries and two will miss at least a month of action while the other is in jeopardy of missing the entire season. While the Yankees’ penchant for building around aging stars has been successful, their season hinges on those players’ abilities to stay healthy throughout a grueling 162-game season.
Third baseman Alex Rodriguez played in an injury-shortened 122 games last season and then underwent hip surgery in January to repair a torn labrum. Rodriguez’s best-case scenario is returning to action at the All-Star break in July but will realistically miss all of 2013. Rodriguez hit for career lows in nearly every major statistical category in 2012, batting .272 with 18 homeruns and 57 runs batted in. At age 37 Rodriguez is still the recipient of an outrageous $105 million over the next five seasons.
First baseman Mark Teixeira is out for the entire month of April after damaging a tendon in his right wrist while practicing in preparation for the World Baseball Classic. Teixeira is coming off a disappointing season in which he struggled to hit for average (.251) and failed to hit for 30 home runs for the first time since his rookie season.
At age 32 Teixeira is still owed an enormous $90 million over four years and even admitted recently that he is both in decline and overpaid.
“I have no problem with anyone in New York, any fan, saying you’re overpaid,” Teixeira told The Wall Street Journal, adding “Because I am. We all are.”
Centerfielder Curtis Granderson completes the injury trifecta for the Yankees. Granderson broke his forearm in the first at-bat of spring training. Granderson is owed $15 million in the final season of his five-year contract signed in 2008 and, at age 31, is another highly paid veteran for the Yankees. Although Granderson led the Yankees in homeruns (43) and runs batted in (106) last season, he posted a career low in batting average (.232).
All three injured Yankees bat in the heart of the batting order and represent over a third of the Yankees’ total offensive output. All three players are aging, overpaid and representative of the Yankees’ “win championships now” attitude.
For the Yankees to be competitive moving forward they need to rid themselves of these astronomical contracts and begin rebuilding through the farm system. This necessitates the Yankees front office swallowing its pride and accepting a few years of mediocrity so the team can continue its dominance in the long run.
This is a tall order for general manager Brian Cashman and owner Hal Steinbrenner considering the immense pressure they endure from fans who expect the Yankees to field a championship team every season.
The state of the current roster spells disaster and help is not on the way, as the Yankees are chained to enormous contracts owed to underachieving players while the farm system is bereft of immediate major league talent.
Rebuilding needs to happen fast for this year’s Yankees or they are in for a downfall long awaited by the rest of Major League Baseball.