Yankees' Rejection of Free Agency and Trade Help May Come Back to Hurt Them

Christopher ConnorsCorrespondent IMarch 11, 2013

Brian Cashman has spent more time parachuting out of planes this off season than he has finding another suitable bat for the Yankee lineup.
Brian Cashman has spent more time parachuting out of planes this off season than he has finding another suitable bat for the Yankee lineup.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Three weeks from Opening Day, it's beginning to appear that the Yankees' lack of moves this off season may hurt them. Given what personnel they have—and apparently how desperate they've become—it's even easier to wonder why the normally profligate Bombers' haven't added more talent.

The Yankees' pitching staff looks great. The batting lineup? Not great. New York led the majors in home runs in 2012 but with so many key departures, this year's club will not be able to rely on the long ball as heavily as they did last season.

That might be for the better as small ball does win championships, but regardless, expect a significant decline in the power department for the Bombers' lineup.

The Yankee hurlers will likely be what the team will need to lean on all season if they hope to return to the postseason. Big middle-of-the-order losses to Curtis Granderson and Teixeira will affect the Yankees from the start and a heavier burden will fall on Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter.

It won't truly sink in until the actual games start but for most Yankee fans, it's hard to believe the team is going to trot out either Francisco Cervelli or Chris Stewart at catcher. For certain, the Bombers have been spoiled for the better part of 15 years, having an all-time great in Jorge Posada and recently, a nice replacement with Russell Martin.

I, for one, haven't looked back for a single second on Russell Martin. Thanks for two years' worth of contributions, Russell. Good luck in Pittsburgh, I say.That said, Yankee fans can't be very confident in getting much offensive production from their catchers by committee this off season. 

In an attempt that now seems sketchy at best, the Yankees' quest to get under $189M in payroll by 2014 seems to be hamstringing the club more than the potential benefits might help. It's a noble effort to be sure, that cannot be dismissed, but at what point should a team flush with cash be more concerned about their product on the field now?

Gone are Nick Swisher, Raul Ibanez, and Eric Chavez. Not exactly Murderer's Row you might say, nevertheless, three players who combined for 59 regular season home runs last year.

How about Melky Mesa as a starting outfielder? Ronnie Mustelier—a 28-year old that doesn't have a single MLB at bat but has performed well so far in spring training—may factor in to the mix at third base or as a corner outfielder.

It's easy to believe Yankees' general manager Brian Cashman has some trade magic up his sleeve but at least as far as we know, that something hasn't materialized yet. At best, it might be former Chicago Cub, Derrek Lee.

In past years, the Yankees almost certainly would have tried harder to trade for a right-handed power bat like Mike Morse or Jason Kubel. Or attempted to trade or sign someone else with solid MLB credentials. 

It's not a matter of whether those guys are world beaters—they're not—but they appear to be better options than Melky Mesa. 

There's part of every true, dyed in the wool Yankee fan that wants to see Melky Mesa, Zoilo Almonte or any other homegrown player earn their shot this season but from a production standpoint, it may not be the best route to go for the Yankees.

Over the years, it's become clearer and clearer to understand why many of the "kids" haven't been given much of a chance in the Bronx. Because often times, when they've been given a chance, they haven't succeeded.

Think about all the big offensive prospects that the Yankees highly (over?) touted over the years. How how many of them actually made it to the big leagues with the Yankees and remained with much success? The truth is that not many of them made it to the majors at all

It overwhelmingly seems that the players really worth keeping stayed around in the farm system and ultimately got to the Bronx. There's a reason why Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner were never traded.

Remember Jose Tabata? Eric Duncan? CJ Henry? Joaquin Arias? Dioner Navarro? Drew Henson? Bronson Sardinha? Is there any reason to believe Austin Romine is going to even play a few months as a big leaguer, right now?

Maybe Tabata will get things right in Pittsburgh. I believe Jesus Montero will start to hit and become a productive bat. But who knows? It's hardly a sure thing. Because prognosticating the success of teenagers and early 20-somethings at the major league level is far from a science.

It's as fine of an art as any of the paintings you'll find at the Guggenheim.

The only position player that the Yankees must have any regret over dealing is Austin Jackson. The Tigers centerfielder is rapidly approaching elite status. But it's not like Curis Granderson, who the Yankees acquired in the trade for Jackson, has been bad.

On the contrary, he leads the majors in home runs over the last two MLB seasons. 

21 more days until the bright lights come on at Yankee Stadium and the Yankees face the Red Sox for meaningful games. Largely due to attrition by free agency, it has seemed all winter long that this team has needed another good bat.

After the injuries to Teixeira and Granderson, it feels that way more than ever.