Dan Schlossberg's Baseball Blog: Yanks are spending again • Latino Sports

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Dan Schlossberg’s Baseball Blog: Yanks are spending again

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There used to be a New York television commercial best-known for its tag-line, “Money talks and nobody walks.”

The New York Yankees are doing their best to resurrect that tune.

Digging deeply into their vault, they landed potential All-Stars in catcher Brian McCann and centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, both among the top available free agents this winter. Both got nine-figure contracts designed to stretch at least six seasons.

The $153 million Ellsbury offer was a surprise; he not only spurned a return to the World Champion Boston Red Sox but rejected a strong overture from the Seattle Mariners, the club closest to his Pacific Northwest home.

It almost seems like George Steinbrenner is at the controls again, although his sons continue to sign the checks.

George Steinbrenner's influence still guides Yankee spending

George Steinbrenner’s influence still guides Yankee spending

After missing the postseason last year, the Yankees seem determined to buy their way back into contention.

It won’t be easy — especially if there’s not enough money left to keep star second baseman Robinson Cano.

For one thing, the Yankees don’t know whether Alex Rodriguez will succeed in the appeal of his 211-game suspension. If he does, the team owes him $25 million. If he doesn’t, the team owes its fans a solid alternative at third base.

Derek Jeter, fighting injuries and Father Time, appeared only 17 times last season and must be considered a question-mark. Few teams field shortstops pushing 40 even when they’re not rehabbing a twice-broken ankle.

If Cano doesn’t come back, the leading option is lefty-hitting Kelly Johnson, about to sign as a free agent. Like McCann, he’ll benefit from the short right-field wall and prevailing gale that blows in the same direction.

Yankees Mark Teixeira

Will Mark Teixeira’s wrist be healthy in 2014?
Bill Menzell/Latino Sports

Even first base isn’t as firm as usual; Mark Teixeira hurt his wrist during the World Baseball Classic last spring, missed virtually all of the season, and is also on the wrong side of 30.

With Ellsbury certain to bat first and play center field, the Yankees might not mind if Curtis Granderson signs with the crosstown Mets. Even if that happens, there will be plenty of competition in the outfield corners, where candidates range from fast-aging Ichiro Suzuki to Brett Gardner, Vernon Wells, and Alfonso Soriano. The Yanks like the speed of Gardner and the power of Soriano but the others are retreads on their way down.

Pitching could be a problem too, especially since staff ace CC Sabathia is coming off his worst year and lefty sidekick Andy Pettitte has retired. Ivan Nova returns but Hideki Kuroda hasn’t decided between the Bronx or a return to Japan. Even if he stays, he’s old — nothing novel for a player in pinstripes these days.

With Mariano Rivera also entering retirement, the bullpen needs attention too. David Robertson is the would-be closer until someone else arrives but the Yanks have already lost out on Joe Nathan and Brian Wilson, both of whom are on the verge of signing elsewhere. Maybe a trade will fill the gaping void.

There’s no doubt Yankees general manager Brian Cashman sees an opportunity, especially with the Red Sox losing

Brian Cashman has been spending lots of money in the last few weeks

Brian Cashman has been spending lots of money in the last few weeks

Ellsbury, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and perhaps Mike Napoli to free agency. Baltimore is without 50-save closer Jim Johnson and Tampa Bay might have to do without ace lefty David Price, whose price is becoming too hefty for the team’s compact payroll. Toronto could make waves in the division too, although it seems the Jays are in rebuilding mold.

Lots more could happen — and soon. The Baseball Winter Meetings start Sunday night in Lake Buena Vista, FL and last all of next week. Putting 30 general managers in the same hotel invariably sparks player movement. And teams anxious to sell tickets for 2014 know they must show improvement to interest their customers.

The Yankees were finished early last season but won’t be finished retooling for weeks, if not months. As a team whose uniform shirts have numbers without names, they figure to sell a lot of scorecards.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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