The New York Yankees reigned in yet another big fish this week, this time coming out on the foreign market as they signed Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka to a massive contract. In doing so, the Yankees likely completed their half a billion dollar spending spree, which has also included the likes of Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury, as well as Carlos Beltran, to the Bronx.
As they always do, the Yankees have made a statement with their spending spree this winter that they’re going for it yet again, likely realizing that their window is closing. Once their group of 30-somethings reaches a point where they can’t hang with other clubs around the American League, the Yanks could be in some trouble given their farm system, which is currently barren. That’s no concern for them now, though, as this is a team that currently finds itself loaded.
That’s at least in the field. This is a Yankees team that is going to have no trouble scoring runs. With McCann and Beltran in the mix, they’ll add power to a lineup that already featured Alfonso Soriano and Mark Teixeira. With speedy on-base guys like Ellsbury and Brett Gardner, they’ll likely score in bunches. Of course, one has to wonder how long this team has before they start to show their age, specifically in regard to folks like Beltran or Soriano.
Another thing to consider: this is a team that will roll with some sort of combination of Brendan Ryan and Brian Roberts at second, with Kelly Johnson likely at third. That doesn’t exactly scream success.
While putting runs on the board won’t be an issue for the Bombers, keeping them off will be. Yes, the Yankees signed Tanaka. Yes, they already featured C.C. Sabathia in their starting five. But this is not a deep rotation. They lack a true no. 2 behind Sabathia, unless that’s considered to be Hiroki Kuroda. As nice as the Tanaka signing looks, he’s still quite the wild card in there. Don’t forget, this is a rotation that also lacks a true no. 5 starter at this time, so it’s not even a particularly deep group.
The bullpen also comes with questions. David Robertson was successful as a late inning guy, but it remains to be seen how well he’ll transition to the closer role. With Robertson taking over the ninth inning, this is a bullpen that lacks depth as well. If there’s something that’s going to hold the Yankees back from achieving the ultimate goal this season, it’s undoubtedly the pitching.
Nonetheless, the Yankees will have the offensive firepower to be right in the mix for the division and/or a wild card berth. The point here isn’t to dismiss the Yankees as a title contender. Tanaka could pan out as the no. 2 he’s currently being advertised as and they can add as the season wears on. But it’s important to note that the competition in the American League is thick, particularly within their own division. The Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays are both still contenders, with the Baltimore Orioles lurking as well. Out west, you have the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics, along with a sure-to-improve Los Angeles Angels squad.
The New York Yankees have all the money in the world, and they’ve spent like it over the course of this offseason. However, that doesn’t make the playoffs anywhere near a lock for them in 2014.