A Yankees Style Christmas Carol
So the Yankees lost the bidding war for Cliff Lee, which is hard enough for Yankee fans to get over. But now, almost two days removed from Yankees GM Brian Cashman telling the media that the team is going to settle with the starting pitchers already on the team (and hopefully a returning Andy Pettitte), there are still two big-name pitchers left on the market.
It is quite obvious that the Yankees will not pursue Carl Pavano, because we all remember how the first Pavano Experiment failed a couple of years ago due to constant injuries. Despite having a break-out year in Minnesota and finishing as a Top 10 Cy Young vote-getter, Pavano is still viewed by New Yorkers as their version of "the Ghost of Christmas Past."
However, the other big name pitcher still on the Free Agent market is just as risky with a much higher potential reward: Brandon Webb. The 2006 NL Cy Young winner has missed the last 2 seasons because of issues with his throwing shoulder, but Webb was a Top 10 pitcher on the Majors before suffering the injury.
From 2006-2008, Webb had become a perennial All-Star, twice leading the NL in wins and once in total innings pitched. The former Cy Young winner has a career record of 87-62 with a 3.27 ERA, which gives him a much better career winning percentage and ERA than infamous Yankee starter A.J. Burnett. Webb's career ERA is about a full run lower than Phil Hughes, not to mention Webb has a lot more experience at the Major League level than Ivan "Chevy" Nova.
But wait, this story has a twist. According to Jerry Crasnick from ESPN.com, Webb is being heavily pursued by the Texas Rangers and the Washington Nationals: two teams that also lost in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes. Notice how neither team I just listed as potential suitors for the '06 Cy Young winner is the New York Yankees, led by the man I am going to call "the Ghost of Christmas Present," Brian Cashman.
Cashman has been dropping the ball ever since the July trade deadline, when he made failed attempts at trading for Cliff Lee and Zach Greinke. On top of those failures, Cashman made several final hour trades for a bunch of bums like Lance Berkman and Austin Kearns, with the only successful acquisition being Kerry Wood for bullpen help.
So after losing in the ALCS to the Rangers, wouldn't you think that Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner would give certain free agents a blank check and just tell them to fill in whatever amount they want? But instead of continuing practices from "The Boss Era," the Yankees re-signed a declining Derek Jeter, followed by signing free agents Russell Martin, Pedro Feliciano and Mark Prior. That's right Yankee fans, that Mark Prior, the former ace pitcher from the Chicago Cubs who hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2006.
Now I'm not exactly a great executive mind like Cashman or Hal Steinbrenner, but I think even Alan Fish could have made better Free Agency signings this Winter than Yankees brass. And trust me, that is saying something about how dumb and nonchalant Yankee executives have been acting this Winter.
Both fans and employees alike of the New York Yankees have allowed themselves (including yours truly at times) to get complacent about "the rich Yankees tradition," along with the lights and glamour of playing in New York. But MLB players have gotten wise about planning their future, knowing that money doesn't equal a World Series ring.
You can sign every 30-year-old under the sun to ridiculous contracts like the Yankees seem to be doing this off-season, but more experience does not always mean more talent. So for the 2011 season and beyond, prepare to call Carl Crawford and Brandon Webb the Yankees' "ghosts of Christmas future."