Friday, February 4, 2011
Empire peace of mind
By Nick Nelson
OK, I'll come right out and say it: I don't like the Yankees.
That's probably a dangerous statement to utter on this platform, but hopefully the hordes of pinstripe-faithful will understand. As a Twins fan, the Yankees have been the bane of my existence over the past decade. In Ron Gardenhire's nine years at the helm, Minnesota has lost 54 of 72 regular-season contests against New York. They've also been bumped from the playoffs by the Yankees four times during that span (always in the first round, always without much of a fight).
With this being the case, it seems odd that I find myself in position to talk Yankees fans down off the ledge. But discontent has been building up in the Bronx this offseason, and it hit an apex Thursday when the surprising (at least to me) news came down that Andy Pettitte plans on calling it quits.
Yes, the Yankees missed out on Cliff Lee. Yes, their biggest move of the offseason came in the form of a signing that for most clubs would be spectacularly bad. And losing Pettitte hurts. But rest easy, Gotham.
The Yankees will be fine.
For the most part, this is the same team that won 95 games in the treacherous AL East and swept a 94-win Twins team out of the playoffs last year.
It's true Pettitte is gone (at least for now), but injuries wiped out a sizable portion of his 2010 season, and they were fine.
Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez might be getting older, but they still rank among the best in the league at their positions. Mark Teixeira is due for a rebound. Robinson Cano will be a trendy pick for MVP among preseason prognosticators.
The Yankees undoubtedly overpaid for Rafael Soriano. It's not hard to see why GM Brian Cashman, a savvy baseball mind, cringed at giving up two draft picks and $35 million for a setup man, whose impact will optimistically shake out to a couple extra wins this year.
But the money and the draft picks don't really matter for New York. They'll keep spending in free agency and above slot in the draft. Overpaying Soriano doesn't matter all that much, and doesn't change the fact that he'll likely combine with Mariano Rivera to form the most dominant back-end in baseball.
And of course, there's the trade deadline. The Yankees will have the cash and prospects to wheel-and-deal come July; teams like the Rangers, Phillies and Brewers have benefited hugely from adding a pitcher at the deadline in recent years.
If you're going to sit an offseason out, the Yankees picked the right one. The market was not at all buyer-friendly this winter, and the team carries over enough talent from last year's successful group that they can feel comfortable moving forward without a bunch of major additions.
They'll be fine.
Much to my chagrin.
-- Nick Nelson writes Nick’s Twins blog, a blog about the Minnesota Twins.