It is hard to figure out if the New York Yankees glass is half-empty or just empty

By Nik Swartz
Derek Jeter New York Yankees
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

With Derek Jeter on pace to start the season and Alex Rodriguez‘s recovery going well, the New York Yankees are starting to get some positive news in what has been a very strange off-season. The Yankees got more good news this week when they avoided arbitration with Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain

Hughes got a raise of $3.75 million for the 2013 season. Does he deserve a raise?  For the Yankees to have any chance at the post-season, they better hope so because he didn’t look like a pitcher worth $7.15 million in 2012.

For Hughes to have success this season he needs to keep the ball in the park. The Yankees are counting on him to hold down the back-end of the rotation; they need Hughes to be the pitcher he used to be. The Yankees had to bring Hughes back, they really couldn’t let him go because they lack starting pitching depth. Even though they couldn’t let him go, if he keeps giving up bombs he could find his way back to the bullpen when Michael Pineda returns.

Chamberlain signed a one-year deal worth $1.875 million. The importance of Chamberlain is similar to Hughes; they both need to be the pitchers they once were for the Yankees to be successful. Chamberlain will be called on to pitch in multiple roles for the Yankees in 2013. He can be a long inning guy, or a strong bridge.

In addition to his struggles on the mound, Chamberlain hasn’t had the best of luck, from a strange trampoline injury when he was coming back from Tommy John surgery, to taking a line drive off his arm in the playoffs; life has been hard on the guy. For Chamberlain to be successful again, he needs to rediscover that pitcher so many Yankee fans fell in love with a few years ago; to do that he needs his head right as much as his arm.

Chamberlain’s issues haven’t just been bad luck or bad pitching; the Yankees management has made mistakes of their own in the way they have handled him. The Yankees need to figure out where Chamberlain fits in and keep him there, because he is a better pitcher when he knows what his role is. Chamberlain’s struggles and the Yankees tossing him around the pitching rotation really seemed to wear on him. The Yankees decided to bring Chamberlain back, so they need to find his spot in the bullpen and use him there. Where Chamberlain will pitch is pitching coach Larry Rothschild‘s job to figure out during Spring Training, not during the season.

As crazy as it may sound to many Yankee fans, Hal Steinbrenner recently said the bank isn’t totally closed. He said the organization is still committed to getting the salary down to $189 million in 2014, but remaining a contender is top priority. It is hard to believe that it isn’t the constant media pressure he is getting that made him come out and say, “We will always field a championship-caliber team” after the owners’ meetings. It is almost laughable to hear he will spend more if the Yankees aren’t, in his opinion, a championship-caliber team. If he is being honest he needs to start spending some money.

His words are great sound bites, but they carry no weight after a quick glance at the 2013 Yankees roster, this group is far from a “championship-caliber team”. The Yankees still have big questions at catcher and lack another strong right-handed hitter; neither of which was pursued seriously this off-season. It would be so much easier to deal with Steinbrenner if he just told the truth; the Yankees are rebuilding.

It is difficult to stay positive after the owner of the team says he will only field a championship team and you’ve seen the 2013 roster.  It brings up the questions of whether he is delusional; or just has no idea what he is doing.

The Yankees signings were good moves, but they still need a right-handed bat, at the very least. The catching position isn’t even worth getting frustrated about anymore because it will be a three man rotation of youth and back-ups. For the Yankees to have any shot, at even a Wild Card spot, they need a lot of balls to bounce their way. For Steinbrenner to come out declaring he will go get whatever it takes to field a championship caliber team and then do nothing is scary, because this is not a championship team.

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