Christmas is approaching, and the Yankees have yet to buy fans their big offseason present. Because they haven’t cannonballed into the deep end and splashed everyone at the pool party, media types are circling like starving wolverines, bandying theories about why the Yankees will or won’t be successful in 2008.
The Detroit Tigers were the news, with their acquisition of Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. Thanks to Steve Phillips and fellow Ithaca College alum Karl Ravech, I know the AL pennant will return to Motown in ‘08. Do the Tigers have a great lineup and a solid top three starting rotation? Sure. Does any of that guarantee even a wild-card? Ask the Pittsburgh Steelers how their guarantee worked out last week.
The Tigers included a top-flight prospect in Andrew Miller to get Cabrera and Willis. They were willing to mortgage some of their future to get two bona fide All-Stars. The Yankees weren’t willing to do the same, and they’re left Sans-tana. Depending on what you read and who you believe, the Yankees’ firm stance of conservatism is the correct approach. Newsday's Wally Matthews goes so far as to say it’s making them likeable. Do Yankee fans want the team to be likeable outside the bounds of New York and Boston?
Maybe the key to that is Joba Chamberlain, ESPN Magazine’s newest cover boy and the winner of ESPN.com’s fan poll of the young star will have the greatest impact on the 2008 sporting landscape. With triple-digit power on his fast ball and a slider that dances like a wiffleball in a 20 mile-per-hour gust, it’s not a stretch. Maybe people just like his name. Look at all the fun we had with it in this space when he burst onto the scene in August.
I still maintain the young Cornhusker could make a bigger impact by remaining a devastating set-up man for Rivera and eventually inheriting that role. But the LaTroy Hawkins signing all but assures the Joba Plan involves pitching every fourth day. That is, unless Brian Cashman does a 180 on his public support of Kyle Farnsworth and deals the reliever. This is the same man who was 100 percent positive Bubba Crosby was the Yankees’ 2006 starting center fielder, until he signed Johnny Damon for that job six weeks before spring training.
* * *
Elsewhere, the Winter Meetings coverage was bland. I’ll admit, I lost interest myself when the Yankees announced they were withdrawing their entry in the Santana Sweepstakes.
The lefty’s situation is reminiscent of Alex Rodriguez’s four years ago, between the posturing, the interested teams involved, and the hype surrounding his next destination. Would anyone else be shocked if the Yankees, after months of lying in the weeds, landed him in a blockbuster deal right before Spring Training, as they did with A-Rod?
Until that happens, the faux deadlines of Hank Steinbrenner and “doors are still open for Santana” stories will dominate coverage. And since it wouldn't be a Yankees offseason without trade rumors, stories like the ones that surfaced regarding Hideki Matsui will continue. It's the cycle of the Yankees Hot Stove, which right now, is on low heat.
Next week … Mitchell Report fallout, and a friendly game of Where In the World Is Johan Santana?