Evil Empire Intact: Yankees Survive the Offseason

John SchultzContributor IDecember 19, 2007

IconIn late October, it appeared that the New York Yankees were heading for a disastrous winter.

While the rival Boston Red Sox were putting the finishing touches on their dominating World Series performance, the Yanks seemed ready for a fall from their throne atop the baseball world.

Yankee haters couldn't wait.

Joe Torre, the man at the wheel of the Yanks dynasty, was being forced out of town. Perennial MVP candidate Alex Rodriguez was ready to head to greener pastures. There were also questions about whether longtime Yankees Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera would follow Torre if he left.

The “Evil Empire” was finally crumbling. Even pesky Cleveland insects wanted a shot to take down the once-mighty Yankees.

So where did it all go wrong?

Or for the Yankees...where did it go so very right?

Torre has always been beloved by his Yankee following. That’s what a run of dominance and four championship rings will do for your image.

But in the last few seasons, even a blind man could see that the end was closing in quickly for Torre in the Bronx.

That said, no one wanted to see Torre forced out the door until he was ready. He'd earned that much. So it was only fitting that he refused the Yankees' one-year offer, with a club option for a second season.

He was able to depart on his own terms.

From the start, it appeared that one guy stood out as the “right guy” to replace the longtime Yankee skipper—ex-Marlins manager and former Yankee catcher Joe Girardi.

It was no surprise when Girardi was named Torre’s successor on October 31st.

Girardi’s only experience as manager came in 2006, when he guided a young Florida Marlins team to an overachieving 78-84 record—a feat that earned him National League Manager of the Year honors.

Girardi also brings with him the experience of dealing with New York fans and media. It’d be hard to find a better man to fill Torre’s shoes.

With a manager in place, all eyes turned to Rodriguez. After opting out of his contract, it appeared that A-Rod was done in Gotham—especially with money-hungry super agent Scott Boras calling the shots.

What no one saw coming was Rodriguez’s apparent love for the bright city lights. On his own, he contacted Yankees management to secure his place at the hot corner in the Bronx.

The two sides worked out a deal that will keep A-Rod in pinstripes for the next decade, and pay the future home run champion the most lucrative salary in sports history.

Boras was not involved in the talks.

It's now apparent that New York is where A-Rod wants to play until the end of his Hall of Fame career. We’ll see if that loyalty warms the hearts of Yankee fans.

The most overlooked developments in the roller-coaster offseason, meanwhile, have to be the signings of Posada and Mariano. Posada was thought to be sought after by numerous clubs, while Rivera seemed to dislike the thought of playing on a post-Torre Yankee team.

Getting both players to sign multiyear deals was huge—especially considering it’d be hard to find equal productivity in this year’s weak free-agent market.

It has to also comfort the Yankees to know that Johan Santana likely won't be pitching for Boston—at least not from the looks of it, as trade talks have quieted over the last few weeks.

Santana's arrival in Boston could have sparked years of Yankee misery.

So although there are questions surrounding the Yankees young rotation...

And we're yet to learn the full scope of the fallout from Andy Pettitte’s HGH admission...

I’d say the Yankees offseason to date should be viewed as a huge success.

After all, things could be a lot worse.