The Yankees, thus far, have not made any moves this offseason that would obviously seem to make them a better team than they were in 2012. And while there are still some options out there that would fit that bill, the Yankees aren’t interested in any of them so far as we know, meaning that, for the most part, their offseason moves will consist of keeping the band together for one more tour. As Mark Feinsand tweets, that’s not necessarily a cause for panic:
The argument that the Yankees haven’t improved may be true. But they won 95 & got to the ALCS last year. They weren’t starting from scratch.
— Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) December 13, 2012
There’s certainly a lot of truth here, especially considering how few holes they had to address at the start of the offseason. With Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte both coming back, re-signing Hiroki Kuroda was definitely the team’s top priority, and by taking care of that they probably got the best possible deal they could while making their rotation a strength. They even dealt with the contingency of Alex Rodriguez‘s injury fairly quickly, and in perhaps the best possible way, by signing Kevin Youkilis to a one year contract. The Yankees might not be making flashy moves, but expecting flashy moves every year isn’t realistic, and probably pushes into the counterproductive realm in a market like this one.
The problem with projecting this formula into next season, however, is the Yankees clearly have gotten worse in some areas. I’ve already beaten the catching situation to death, so suffice it to say that replacing Russell Martin with Francisco Cervelli or Austin Romine will make the team worse at the margins, and swapping out Nick Swisher for Ichiro Suzuki full time in right field won’t be much better, at least for the offense. Factor in that everyone else will be a year older, that Derek Jeter probably won’t repeat the season he had last year even if he’s healthy, that A-Rod is already hurt, that Mark Teixeira hasn’t shown any reason to think he’ll stop his steady decline, etc. and it’s not unrealistic to think that the baseline for 2013 is going to be lower than the 2012 season, even if the Yankees don’t deal with as many injuries.
That’s not to say everything is doomed already, by any means. The Yankees could still make additional moves, though it doesn’t appear that they will. Even without them, though, there’s no clear titan in the A.L. East, and their two closest competitors (Baltimore and Tampa Bay) have also gotten worse so far this offseason. But they’re still good, as are Toronto and (in all likelihood) Boston, which makes watching the Yankees not only sit on their powder with regards to other teams’ free agents, but let their own regulars leave without any real attempt to keep them, incredibly frustrating.