New York Yankees fans have spent the off-season watching the Toronto Blue Jays get better, the Boston Red Sox start to reshape their roster and the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels add Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton respectively. This off-season, the Yankees were more spectator than aggressor in the free agent market, which is a departure from years past.
The Yankees still signed Kevin Youkilis to fill-in at third for the rehabbing Alex Rodriguez, re-signed Hiroki Kuroda, Ichiro Suzuki, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and signed Travis Hafner. The Yankees also added Juan Rivera and Matt Diaz to minor league contracts to compete for the role of right-handed outfielder. It wasn’t a completely quiet off-season but it was far from what Yankees fans have come to expect.
In recent years the expectation has come to be that the Yankees will add a big-name free agent at an area of need. This off-season, however, the Yankees let Russell Martin, Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano walk with Soriano and Swisher’s departures bringing in first-round draft choices in return.
While the Yankees changed their style this off-season, it doesn’t mean they aren’t still a very formidable team that will still compete for a playoff spot. After all, this is a team that won 95 games last year and did make it to the ALCS.
Yes, the Yankees are older, but there is no reason to think they won’t be competitive the entire year. To think otherwise would be foolish. Even without Martin, Swisher and Soriano, the Yankees are still set up to have a good season.
Adding Youkilis to play third might be a big addition, one that was not liked much by Yankees fans given his roots with the Red Sox. However, he has been working on changing his swing to adapt to lost bat speed and he should be more than adequate in the field.
At catcher, the Yankees have some concerns. However, we must also remember that the Yankees won three World Series titles with Joe Girardi, a defense-first catcher, manning the position. They also received excellent play at third base from 1996-2001 from players many thought were done in Wade Boggs and Scott Brosius, so why can’t Youkilis do something similar? Surely Youkilis’ track record is greater than that of Brosius, whom the Yankees acquired after the 1997 season in which Brosius hit just .203/.259/.317 with the Oakland Athletics. I’m not saying history will definitely repeat itself, but the precedent is there and it could happen.
Joe Girardi believes his team can win 95 games again and I don’t see why not. This is still a good, veteran ball club with talent everywhere one looks. The Yankees may not have had a sexy off-season, but they should still be a good team to watch. It is next year that might be a real problem but until then, Yankees fans, sit back and enjoy the show.