Is This the End of the World for the New York Yankees?

Peter AlfanoContributor IIDecember 12, 2012

Kevin Youkilis will be at the hot corner and on the hot seat in 2013.
Kevin Youkilis will be at the hot corner and on the hot seat in 2013.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Maybe the Mayan calender that some people say predicts the end of the world on Dec. 21 is true after all. A New York Yankees fan might think so, anyway.

How else can you explain the Hot Stove League thus far?

The Kansas City Royals, of all teams, parts with its best hitting prospect for James Shields and Wade Davis of the Tampa Bay Rays. Baseball pundits say Shields is one of the top 10 starters in the American League.

Cleveland, Arizona and Cincinnati get together for a nine-player trade and the Toronto Blue Jays make a mind-blowing trade with the Miami Marlins, landing two starting pitchers and Jose Reyes.

It's the baseball world turned upside down.

The Yankees, meanwhile, sit back and watch for the most part.  That is unless they are signing players who are close to being eligible to join AARP.

With Alex Rodriguez sidelined until at least June (after he undergoes hip surgery in January), the Yankees gave Kevin Youkilis of the hated Boston Red Sox a reported one-year, $12 million deal to take A-Rod's place.  Youkilis is 33, but on the decline. He was traded from Boston to the Chicago White Sox during the 2012 season.

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Now he is changing his pinstripes instead of his Sox.

Perhaps Youkilis will be rejuvenated in the Bronx; maybe he will continue a decline that saw his batting average drop to .258 in 2011 and .235 last season after three consecutive years above .300. On the Yankees major league roster, though, Youkilis is still relatively young.

Even though there is not a depth of talent on the free-agent market, the Yankees have thus far stayed on the sidelines with the crown jewel of free agency, Josh Hamilton, looking for suitors.

They have not pursued Ryan Dempster, Kyle Lohse or Edwin Jackson and have not, at least publicly, even inquired about Anibal Sanchez, whom the Detroit Tigers acquired from the yard-sale Marlins last season.

Apparently Zack Greinke didn't have the temperament to handle the bright lights of New York, but that didn't stop the best free-agent pitcher from signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers (L.A. has a few bright lights too).

With the exception of Hamilton and Greinke, none of the players mentioned here are a difference-maker. But for a team that is disturbingly old, getting younger should be priority number one this offseason.

Instead the Yankees resigned Andy Pettitte (40), Mariano Rivera (43) and Hiroki Kuroda (38) in February, and have lost or are losing key players such as Rafael Soriano, Nick Swisher and Eric Chavez to free agency.

And it is the Yankees who are now budget-conscious and determined to reduce their payroll to $189 million by 2014 to avoid luxury taxes. And it's the Yankees who have sold 49 percent of the lucrative YES Network to News Corp., Rupert Murdoch's media empire.

I have researched the Mayan calendar prophecy and haven't found any references to New York or Bronx Bombers.

I went back and looked at the predictions made by Nostradamus and couldn't find one reference to the end of the Jeter era signaling the end of the world.

But I am aware that an asteroid passed between the earth and moon—our moon—earlier this week, coming out of left-field for unsuspecting astronomers.

Should that give us pause?

Maybe Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is just playing possum and about to swoop in and sign Hamilton and a couple of back-of-the-rotation starting pitchers. Maybe Hal Steinbrenner is just blowing smoke when he talks about keeping the payroll at or under $189 million in 2014.

Yankee fans sure hope so.

Otherwise, they might be rooting for those Mayans to be right. Who wants to see the calendar turn on those senior citizens populating the roster of their favorite team?

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