It appears another season of unfulfilled promise is materializing in the Bronx, with the New York Yankees dropping the first two games of the ALCS at home to the Detroit Tigers. Nothing short of a championship is considered a success for the Yankees, so we can expect some changes heading into 2013. Over the past several offseasons, the Yankees have shown a knack for acquiring talented but underperforming players who go on to have success while wearing pinstripes.
Who they acquire is anyone’s guess, but these players have all faced disappointments in the past few years, making them affordable to a New York team that has to balance Alex Rodriguez’s massive salary for the next five years:
Kevin Youkilis — This season, Youkilis proved he is a Yankees killer no matter what uniform he wears, hitting a grand slam against the Bronx Bombers as a member of the Chicago White Sox. And though Youkilis’ average has come down the past several years, he rediscovered his power stroke in the second half of this season. However, the White Sox are all but certain to let him and his $13 million option walk, leaving him free to play for Joe Girardi. If signed, Youkilis could find work at both first and third base, as everyday players Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira have experienced numerous injuries over the past few seasons. While New York does have other utility fielders, none can bring Youkilis’ home-run ability to the corner infield positions. As for attracting Youkilis to the Yankees, the messy divorce he had with Boston midway through the season could be enough to send him into the arms of the arch-enemy.
Anibal Sanchez — While Phil Hughes showed dominance through parts of the season, the Freddy Garcia experiment is likely coming to an end. The Yankees also have no guarantee they can bring back Hiroki Kuroda, who led the team in innings pitched and ERA. Sanchez is a pitcher who, like the rest of the Yankees staff, is not afraid to throw strikes. He has proven he can pitch in the American League, amassing a 3.74 ERA while making 12 starts for the Detroit Tigers. Still, Sanchez needs to prove he’s a winner; even on the division-winning Tigers, he lost more games than he won during the regular season. And though Sanchez doesn’t have to be worried about making the major league minimum, there is a rare glut in the number of quality free-agent starting pitchers. Sanchez may have to wait out a one- or two-year contract before he can really cash in, when he will be considered not just a good but a great talent who is a winner. And no one wins more memorably than with the Yankees.
Jonathan Sanchez — The need for pitching depth could lead the Yankees to try out another Sanchez, though this one just finished up a year he would like to forget. Sanchez was battered around while pitching for both the Royals and Rockies. Yet he has shown the promise that makes for second and even third chances. He has pitched a no-hitter, which would have been a perfect game except for an error. In 2010, Sanchez had over 200 strikeouts and had an ERA just a few percentage points over three. He’s a player the Yankees could sign to a one-year deal with a club-friendly option for a second. And he is a player who could very well walk away with the Cy Young award if he can return to his pre-2012 form.