Steinbrenner and Cashman Will Regret Letting Damon, Matsui, and Wang Go
In 2000, the Yankees won their third titles in four years. After barely missing out on another title the following year, it was no doubt that George Steinbrenner ran the most successful franchise in professional sports. Instead of rewarding who played their asses off for the organization, they got rid of long-time contributors Tino Martinez, Paul O'Neill (retirement). Chuck Knoblauch, David Cone, Scott Brosius, Luis Sojo, Orlando Hernandez, David Justice, Glenallen Hill, Alfonso Soriano, Shane Spencer, Enrique Wilson, Denny Neagle, Jeff Nelson, Jose Canseco, Mike Stanton, and Dwight Gooden all in a span of two years. The classless way they ran the team soon came back to haunt them.
These guys may not be young anymore, but they know how to execute and win. Unfortunately, Cashman and the Steinbrenner family went for what is hot. The Yankees went through a decade long title drought despite signing young, big-name free agents Jason Giambi, Mike Mussina, Gary Sheffield, Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez, Kevin Brown, Jose Contreras, Javier Vazquez, Bobby Abreu, Hideki Matsui, Robin Ventura, Raul Mondesi, Esteban Loaiza, Jeff Weaver, Kei Igawa, Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, Jon Lieber, Sterling Hitchcock, Tony Womack, Ruben Sierra, John Olerud, Johnny Damon, Pudge Rodriguez, Kyle Farnsworth, Xavier Nady, LaTroy Hawkins, and Kenny Lofton. Unfortunately, almost all of these moves did not work out. No offense to these players, but they lack the winning mentality of the old guards. It was no surprise that Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Petitte, Roger Clemens, and Jorge Posada are usually the most reliable performers in the playoff.
The classless behaviors did not end here. Petitte was lowballed by the Yankees and angrily left to play for his hometown team, the Houston Astros, with his buddy Clemens. Joe Torre was publicly insulted by both statements made by George Steinbrenner as well as an "incentive-based" contract that he rejected as a "slap in the face". It was no surprise that the Yankees did not win a championship until 2009.
Now in 2009, we seemed to be reliving the nightmares of 2000-2001 all over again. Longtime contributors Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, and Chien-Ming Wang are ushered out despite reasonable contract demand. (Yes, I don't care that Damon and Matsui played in hitter-friendly Yankees stadium. Numbers are numbers. Damon is an annual 20-20 threat. His bat is more than good enough for corner outfielders. Wang will take an incentive-laden one year contract anyway.) Once again, the Yankees are infatuated by mediocre free agents and trade for unproven, flawed players who happened to be young.
They overpaid for disable list mainstay Nick Johnson (5 million) when they could have kept Matsui for around the same price. Johnson is not your average DH/1B. He lacks power and constantly gets injured. With Texeira on board, Johnson, who can only play 1B, will have no choice but to play full-time DH. Better DH options such as Jim Thome, Jermaine Dye, Carlos Delgado, Russell Branyan, and Gary Sheffield could all be had for considerable less money and Johnson is as big an injury risk as all of the aforementioned, yet they let Matsui go and replace him with Johnson out of all people. Hell, if you want to save money, why not just let Juan Miranda take over at DH?
Javier Vazquez is great in the NL, but already prove to be mediocre in the AL, especially against the star studded lineup of AL East foes. No one knows if Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes can cut it as a starter for a full season either. Both could very well flame out as starters and become career-long relievers.
To add insult to injury, they added another weak bat in Randy Winn to their mediocre, power-starved outfield. Both newly-acquired Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher cannot hit for average. Granderson probably is best suited to be a platoon player given that he clearly cannot hit lefties. Winn has never been great and at this point of his career, hit for neither power or average. Both Brett Gardner and Winn (and maybe Swisher as well) probably should not be starting for a major league team.
To make matters worse, the Yankees are classless and cheap enough to not resign AJ Burnett's personal catcher, Jose Molina, a savvy veteran who calls a great game. Their bullpen, except for Mariano Rivera, are full of minor league free agents, failed starters, and retreads.
Why sign Winn and Johnson when Jermaine Dye, Gary Sheffield, Felipe Lopez (dude can play pretty much everywhere.), Garrett Anderson, Brian Giles, and Russell Branyan can all be had for cheap? Why not bring back Damon or Matsui? Why leave your bullpen in tatters when proven reliever such as Chan Ho Park, Kiko Calero, David Weathers, Jeff Weaver, Kevin Gregg, Russ Springer, Chad Bradford, Guillermo Mota, Ron Mahay, and Joe Beimel can't even find a major league contract? Why have question marks in your rotation when you can either bring back Wang or sign Pedro Martinez to a very reasonable contract?
As a lifelong Yankees fan, this offseason is a nightmare just like back in 2001. It will be a longtime before Yankees faithful holds another parade.
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