Eric P. Mull-US PRESSWIRE
The Yankees have signed Travis Hafner, perhaps putting an uninspiring cap on an uninspiring offseason for a team in need of some fixing. And somehow they're still frightening all the same.
The Yankees have a deal in place with Travis Hafner according to Chad Jennings of the New York Journal News, perhaps providing a cap to this bizarre offseason for the Bronx Bombers.
Hafner, 35, was once a big bat in the middle of the aughts, but has struggled to stay healthy and seen his drop dramatically since 2006. He can still hit some when he's not on the disabled list, and will likely act as the team's primary designated hitter.
It's bizarre to see what the Yankees have become. You might say they've embraced their identity as the club of old guys. Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, Kevin Youkilis, Mariano Rivera, Ichiro Suzuki, and now Travis Hafner. The Yankees have invested nearly $60 million in payroll on signing (or re-signing) some of the league's oldest players while letting Nick Swisher bolt for Cleveland and Rafael Soriano sign on with the Yankees.
It's tough to figure out where, exactly, the Yankees are going with this. What's their gameplan in the long run? In the short run, their strategy isn't too much different from Boston's. The difference is where the Red Sox have invested in high-upside players coming off of down years or injuries, the Yankees are rolling the dice with age. Either way it's low-risk gambling (at least in the long run) with the possibility of significant rewards.
The difference is that the Red Sox have a more impressive youth movement on the way-at least that's the general sentiment of people who rank these sorts of things--and the Yankees will be paying Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez $46 million until 2016 (not to mention the back end of CC Sabathia's contract, which could potentially be trouble).
The thing is, we can't really feel too safe even with all of that. Because for all that the Yankees seem a bit lost at sea at the moment, they seem to make this sort of thing work out as often as not. They hold the secret to eternal youth somewhere in the depths of New Yankee Stadium (insert anti-aging clinic joke here), and no matter how certain it seems that they're due for a significant decline they seem to find their way to the postseason anyway. While it wouldn't be unreasonable to predict the Yankees finishing fourth or fifth (admittedly, the same is very true of the Red Sox--more so, even), somehow picking them to go 96-66 and win the East seems like the safe choice.
I don't know what the Yankees are doing, I don't know where they think they're going. I'm not even convinced they know what they're doing at this point. And somehow that scares me to death all the same.