Friday, December 20, 2013

Guest Blogger Pinch Hitting: Adam Hamburger

This post from Adam Hamburger in our Guest Blogger Pinch Hitting section has been a week or two in the making so I am excited to finally be sharing this with you all. Here is a short bio about Adam:

Adam Hamburger currently lives in Washington D.C. where he is a 21 year old senior at American University. Adam is studying Criminology and Political Science with the intention of pursuing a career in federal law enforcement. He grew up in Long Island, NY and began following the Yankees at age 4. Adam was a little too young to appreciate those terrific dynasty years of the late ‘90s, unfortunately! While baseball is his favorite sport, Adam is interested in all things sports. He also closely follows hockey, football, tennis, golf and basketball. Adam was thrilled to participate in the U.S. Open tennis tournament as a ball-person during his high school years. Besides the Yankees, Adam’s favorite teams are the New York Jets and the New York Rangers, followed by the New York Knicks. But it’s baseball that matters most. And Adam watches with great interest where his favorite Yankees players end up once they leave the team. Whatever is going on with the Yankees or a former Yankee, you can be sure Adam will have something to say!

Adam can be reached at his Twitter account @AdamHamburger21 or his email address:

The New York Yankees spending spree this offseason is in direct contrast to the team’s offseason outlook one year ago, while spurring memories of the 2008-2009 offseason. As we remember, the Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time that year since 1993 and splurged on the following players: C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira. The addition of those players helped the Yankees win their first World Series title since 2000.

It seemed as if the Yankees would employ a similar strategy of adding the presumed “missing piece” as they continuously did in the 2000s after being swept in the 2012 ALCS by the Detroit Tigers. Instead, for 2013, they implemented a stringent mandate to bring their payroll under $189 million to avoid paying the luxury tax. As a result, the Yankees new-found budgetary restrictions enabled the Pittsburgh Pirates to sign Russell Martin to a three-year, 17 million dollar contract. Instead of easily matching that contract offer, the Yankees thought that going with the trio of Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart, and Austin Romine would work despite losing a hefty amount of their offensive production by letting Nick Swisher sign with the Indians along with the aforementioned Martin departure.

The Yankees perceived that the catching trio would fit under the notion that “defense wins championships.” Meanwhile, the Yankees have consistently led the league in offense, which makes this sudden shift in tone puzzling. Why change what has been working and led to a number of championships? Are Yankee executives still reeling over the 2004 collapse in the ALCS? Most importantly, the Yankees were left unprepared and unwilling to fix the roster issues that contributed to the number of injuries and ineffectiveness during the 2013 campaign.

The signing of Kevin Youkilis to a one-year contract was intended to help satisfy the 2014 budget mandate while filling the hole at third base. Instead Youkilis spent more time on the disabled list along with Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Teixeira. The injuries left the Yankees essentially fielding a sub-AAA team by Yankee standards. The offense was non-existent to putrid all season long since the Yankees brass never replaced the holes in the rotation resulting from the departures of Raul Ibanez (Mariners), Swisher and Martin. Instead they signed minor league afterthoughts with the vaguest notion that they might succeed. The disappointment of the season forced Hal Steinbrenner to decide whether he wanted to be remembered as the next great Yankees owner or as a “James Dolan,” whom the fan-base of the Knicks and Rangers despise with a passion.

It appears as Hal is now following in his late father’s footsteps with additions of Brian McCann, Brendan Ryan, Kelly Johnson, Carlos Beltran, and Jacoby Ellsbury, along the with the re-upping of Hiroki Kuroda. The signings look to have improved the Yankees as a team and have reduced the $189 million threshold to an afterthought. Team officials have described the mandate as a “goal” now. The Yankees certainly have huge needs left to address – notably finding Robinson Cano’s replacement – but the outlook for the 2014 season is much brighter than it was for 2013 at this time last year. Yet the same still issue still remains: an aging roster with a lack of prospects coming up to help offset the injuries that may occur in future seasons. The free spending will certainly benefit the Yankees in the short term and it may lead to the 28th World Championship sooner rather than later. But that begs the question: is anyone in the front office ready to address the sorry state of the Yankees farm system? In order to return to those dynasty years of the late ‘90s the Yankees desperately need to bring some young homegrown talent into the mix. 

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