For nearly the past two decades, the New York Yankees have enjoyed an extended run of dominance, including five world championships to go along with 17 playoff appearances in 18 years.
Those were prosperous summers for the franchise back then, but there is a chill in the air as the Yankees begin their 2013 season.
Winter is now coming to the Bronx.
The cold began to creep in last October, when the Yanks lost Derek Jeter to a broken ankle during their embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS.
Things have only gotten worse since then.
Love him or hate him, Alex Rodriguez underwent hip surgery at the conclusion of last season, and he will miss at least half of the 2013 season. Joining him on the disabled list would be spring training casualties Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira, who are both expected to miss the first six weeks of the season.
In the past, the Yankees could make up for these losses by making a splash in free agency. Ah, but this is a new age for the Yankees—the cost-effective model.
The team is dead set on spending a maximum of $189 million on salaries in 2014 in order to escape the luxury tax they would incur for being above the threshold.
As a result of this new cost-cutting mentality, the Yankees re-signed Ichiro to a two year contract, traded for Vernon Wells, and signed Lyle Overbay and Kevin Youkilis as their “big” free-agent acquisitions.
How many games will the Yankees win this season?
If the year was 2007, this would be a killer lineup, but in 2013, it is more of a running punch line.
Pitching should be a strength for the team this year, but with elder statesmen Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte slotted in the second and third slot in the rotation, you have to believe there may be some time spent on the disabled list for one or both of them.
Perhaps the most-telling sign that the Yankees' dominance is coming to end is the impending retirement of closer Mariano Rivera.
Rivera recently announced he would retire at the end of 2013, and when the window closes on the most-dominant closer in the history of baseball, the Yankees' window may close right behind him.
Some pundits are predicting a doomsday scenario of a last-place finish and 70-win season for the Yankees this year. I don’t think it will get that bad in the Bronx. They may even make the playoffs, but make no mistake, there is a crippling cold-front coming to the Bronx sooner rather than later.
Winter is indeed coming.