Even being the richest team in baseball doesn’t translate into immediate success. It’s no secret the Yankees mantra revolves around championships and money. Unlike many teams, their immense wealth allows them to dangerously push the envelope on a borderline wise move. But when you play with fire, you ultimately get burned.
We all know the Yanks have no problem telling the world about their championships, but some of these contracts they’d like to forget ever happened.
Bringing back Nick Johnson in 2010 wasn’t really about the financial hit, but the blow to the Yankee’s front office intelligence. Welcoming the walking wounded once again to the Bronx was downright silly.
After watching the oft-injured first baseman put up some decent seasons in the National League, the club wanted to give their old farm hand a second shot. With a quick stroke of the pen on a one-year contract worth $5.5 million, he was back in pinstripes.
And before you could blink he was gone.
In a whopping 24 games of action, Johnson posted a .167 average before injuring his wrist. That same wrist ended his season on May 8th when he was placed on the DL and never returned to action.
For all intensive purposes, Johnson seems like a good guy. But, what were the Yankees thinking when they thought he could shake his career long injury bug?
As soon as Emperor Roger Clemens addressed the Yankee peasants from owner George Steinbrenner’s box, his second stint with the club was officially a three ring circus.
At the age of 45, New York thought it would be great to add a Texas sized ego to the bunch in early 2007. After all the pro-rated number crunching was done, Clemens would be handsomely paid $18.7 million for the duration of 2007.
Not only did the Yankees throw bags of cash at the aging hurler, they conceded to his outrageous demands that involved preferred traveling arrangements.
As for the results on the field, he appeared in 18 games going 6-6 with an ERA of 4.18, which fell short of anyone’s expectations. It was only the second time in the last eight years of his career that his ERA ballooned over 4.
Even Clemens saw the writing on the wall, as he called it a career (for now) as he retired at season’s end.
No matter where you stand on Alex Rodriguez, no one can deny the god given talent the man possesses. At the same time, the Yankees must have been so awestruck by his baseball abilities that they were confident he could do it until he’s 42-years-old.
When A-Rod unceremoniously opted out of his contract in the middle of the 2007 World Series, the Bombers originally channeled their inner Michael Kay and said, “See ya!”. But, when all was said and done, the team signed him to an even bigger contract for 10 years and $275 million.
Honestly, I can’t blame everything that swirls around the slugger on the Yankees. At the time, A-Rod wasn’t the poster boy for “bole” and they couldn't have imagined how quickly the third baseman’s body would crumble.
But, if they had shown some intelligence when it came to the years on his contract, they wouldn’t have an A-Rod albatross hanging over their heads.
After coming off the best year of his career in 2004 (18-8, 3.00 ERA), Carl Pavano was high on the Yankees wish list. While some teams offered him more money, he eventually agreed with the Yankees on a four year contract just under $40 million.
What followed would be a Benny Hill style of absurdity from the former Marlins “Ace”. In those four years, he compiled an overall record of 14-12 with an ERA of 5.10, including missing the entire 2006 season because of injuries.
Ahh, yes. The injuries. There was the bum shoulder, hip injury, broken ribs from a car accident, and oh yes: the bruised rear-end. Abbot and Costello couldn’t have put together this laundry list of follies if they tried their hardest.
Eventually, the “American Idle” left town with his tail between his legs and became one of the biggest blunders in recent Yankee history.
When the Yankees saw their arch-rivals tap into the Far East pipeline in the form of Daisuke Matsuzaka, they acted with an embarrassing knee-jerk reaction. After a serious decline in Kei Igawa’s performance in the Japanese league in 2004 and 2005, the Bombers, for whatever reason, decided they had to have him.
What they got was a train wreck.
After inking the left-handed pitcher to a 5-year, $20 million deal (not including the $26 million posting fee), Igawa quickly became a representation of reckless spending from baseball’s elite.
He appeared in 16 games in his MLB career, compiling a record of 2-4 with an ERA of 6.66.
Hmm, convenient ERA figure.
The majority of his career was spent in AAA as he became the richest career minor league player in history.
After 2011, the club and Igawa parted ways and ended a marriage that was never meant to be. Even Brian Cashman eventually admitted defeat. “It was a disaster,” he said. “We failed.”