Free Agency Makes New York Yankees the Team To Beat in 2009

Brad TaylorContributor IDecember 11, 2008

There was a strange silence coming from Yankee Stadium this past October. It was far different than the beautiful medley of October hits Yankee fans have come to love.

No, there were not any games played on baseball's biggest stage in the Bronx this year, and Yankee fans were left to wonder if this winter would be as quiet as the previous offseason had been. Surely, they pondered, the Steinbrenner offspring would not sit on their hands and provide a repeat December performance while the free-agency chorus line passed them by.  

As of yesterday, there is no longer reason to worry. The signing of CC Sabathia to a seven-year, $161 million contract served notice that the Pinstripers are doing all they can to bring title No. 27 to the Bronx. 

It is the largest contract ever given to a pitcher. It is also the opening salvo in what will be the busiest winter in franchise history.

If you liked this latest rendition of the Free Agent Waltz, you will love the upcoming additions to the Yankees lineup which could likely include Derek Lowe, Ben Sheets, and A.J. Burnett among others. Also, expect a return by Andy Pettitte.

The rest of Major League Baseball will roll their eyes at this latest act, but the Yankees simply consider their big spending ways to be business as usual. They did not invent free agency (well, maybe they did, actually), but have certainly perfected it to a degree that guarantees Yankee fans will always be guaranteed a contender.

Simply put, if all goes as planned with these free agency upgrades, the Yankees will be the team to beat in 2009.  This team has the money and they know how to spend it.   Whether they spend it wisely is another issue.

The American League East is clearly the best division in baseball with the Boston Red Sox and defending A.L. Champion Tampa Bay Devil Rays. However, the price of poker goes up with each passing season and the rival Red Sox appear to be making a futile effort to stay in the game.

While Theo Epstein continues his predictable raid on Japanese pitching prospects, the latest being 22-year-old Junichi Tazawa, New York is looking to add veterans who offer, in theory, the best chance to win now.  After all, if the Steinbrenner doctrine of the 1980's taught us anything, it is that no amount of money is too large to throw at free agents who might or might not have seen their best years.

Last winter was probably not a very fun one for the George, Hank, and Hal.  What is the point of having all that free agency money if you are not going to spend it? That is probably not the best news for the rest of Major League Baseball, but it is just the way of life in the Evil Empire. 

If you thought this team was going to have two quiet offseasons in a row, well, I've got a cheap seat in new Yankee Stadium I want to sell you.