Maybe I’ve been burned too often in the past. Or maybe I’m just in a generally grumpy mood right now. But for whatever reason, I’m feeling decidedly pessimistic about this year’s free agents.
Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait for next season to start (…any day now!). And I’m not trying to claim that C.C. Sabathia isn’t an awesome pitcher, or that Texiera’s not one of the best first basemen in the game. Yet even if the Yankees get one or both of them – Sabathia seeming more likely at the moment, I suppose – I just can’t muster up much hope or faith for those signings working out. I keep imagining the moment when Sabathia turns to high-five his agent, as the ink dries on his record-breaking contract… and his rotator cuff dissolves into Jell-O. After the way the Brewers used him last season, and given his, erm, conditioning, isn’t an early injury all too easy to imagine? And yeah, Texiera’s great; so was Giambi in 2001. I know, I know, they’re very different players, there’s no direct correlation. It’s just that it seems like with the Yankees over the last few years – as it is for most teams, most of the time, really, but wasn’t for New York from 1996 to 2001 – it’s always something.
Besides, after Sabathia and Texiera, what’s the big prize? Has New York’s great baseball rivalry really been reduced to fighting over Derek Lowe? Nothing against Lowe, really who does at least have a lot going for him simply by virtue of not being Sidney Ponson; but no one’s going to buy advance tickets this spring for a mid-summer game thinking, “gee, I hope I get to see Lowe pitch that day!”
Speaking of huge free agent signings, I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few years defending Alex Rodriguez to all comers, and I suppose I’ll have to continue doing so; he’s earned it on the field. (Mostly). But I’m thoroughly annoyed with him at the moment, thanks to his apparent determination to stay under as much media scrutiny and mockery as possible at all times. You don’t want your privacy invaded and personal life scrutinized? DON’T DATE MADONNA! My god, how hard is it?
Anyway, I wonder if I’ve bought too much into the recent Yankee dream – expressed by Brian Cashman, wildly embraced by much of the internet – of a generation of homegrown star players. We all wanted Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy to blossom this year; but of course young players, even when cheap, are huge risks in their own right. Am I investing too much in that ideal at the risk of failing to appreciate the beauty of a bombshell free agent signing? Is anyone else having trouble getting excited about C.C.? Should I be excited about Nick Swisher, even a little? Help me out, Yankee fans. How much pessimism is healthy realism, and how much is too much?