To many, the New York Yankees completed a successful winter. They entered the mix with many questions, the biggest of which pertained to adding starting pitching and replacing Robinson Cano's production and everyday glove.
But only a few short months of Major League Baseball's offseason have been needed to update, renew and improve the face of a team that failed in the previous season and position it for the following few years.
The Yanks seized a number of excellent offseason opportunities, acquiring some of the most coveted, upper-echelon free agents on the market—Masahiro Tanaka, Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran—and, as a result, have set themselves up for a potential 2014 postseason berth.
The ship appears to have largely righted itself from 2013. By way of spending on the robust free-agent market, the 2014 Yankees are a far better team on paper than last year's iteration. They've emerged from the winter months in Tampa with a slate of roster members and invitees well-positioned to trim down to an imposing Opening Day 25-man force.
The organization wiped away any remaining whisper of worry about losing two productive bats—Cano's and Curtis Granderson's—by signing three additional ones. It saw the swift exits of two starting pitchers—Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes—and, just as abruptly, kick-started the American career of the most prized free-agent hurler.
Ultimately, what could be called the Yankee way or, as Brian Cashman put it at Tanaka's press conference, going "Steinbrenner big," is best put this way: No luxury tax is a large enough deterrent to acquiring luxury.
Just like Joe Girardi's four-year-old No. 28 jersey, Yanks brass aren't nearly as prophetic as they are economically prosperous. After predicting 2014 the year they would limbo beneath the $189 million luxury tax threshold, they obliterated their self-restrictive goal with nearly $500 million in contracts for what resembles a winning product.
But beneath the acquisitions, the Yankees have let a few opportunities slip through their fingertips this offseason.
As the following four examples show, it wasn't just better measures to shore up the on-field product for 2014 that they let slide by.
Considering the newest Yankee was showered with an introductory broadcast while the most cherished, longtime Yankee broke his own news on Facebook, there are clearly team issues that extend to the public image and culture as well.
Thus, these problems take into account the atmosphere of the clubhouse, the confidence and character of the team and holes in the personnel in order to rank them from the smallest to the most serious missed opportunity.
Whether they are stronger pieces that should have been added, malignant parts that should have been chopped off or more pragmatic decisions that should have been made by management, they all concern vital opportunities to have bolstered both the 2014 roster and the identity of the franchise as it transitions to the upcoming era of Yankee baseball.
Peter F. Richman is a Featured Columnist for the New York Yankees. You can follow him on Twitter: Follow @Peter_F_Richman