So the Yankees made two monster deals, with more to come, after scaring their fan base to death with so much talk about payroll restraint this offseason. "People forgot," the source said, "that $189 million would be the second-highest payroll in baseball."
It's good to be a Yankees fan, even in bad times. They missed the playoffs last year for only the second time since the players' strike of 1994, and attendance and TV ratings took a significant hit when A-Rod and Derek Jeter were nowhere to be found. Worse yet, the Red Sox won it all for the third time since they humiliated their blood rivals with their deferred sweep in the 2004 American League Championship Series, putting the parade count at 3-1 in favor of Boston since that historic series.
The Yankees responded the only way they know how, the Steinbrenner way. With George gone, son Hal had to show he has some of the old man's fire in his own belly. He'd refused to match Russell Martin's reasonable two-year, $17 million bid from the Pittsburgh Pirates, of all corporate raiders, only to watch the catcher's position become the kind of glaring weakness that inspired McCann's big-money score.
Meanwhile, across town, the Mets had allowed themselves to play the fool in a high-profile sit-down with Cano and Jay Z, a practical joke of a negotiation that left a lot of observers laughing at the Mets, not with them. The Yankees don't do fake sit-downs, unless you count the one Brian Cashman once did with Carl Crawford's agent to drive up the price Boston would ultimately pay for the outfielder. In explaining why he wasn't interested in Crawford, Cashman said, "I feel like we've got Carl Crawford in Brett Gardner, except [Gardner] costs more than $100 million less, with less experience."
The same could be said of Ellsbury-Gardner, but the Yankees went all-in anyway. Maybe they'll end up back on top of the AL East because of it, or maybe they'll end up a big box-office bust the likes of the Brooklyn Nets, already in turmoil two months into a season that will cost their owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, about the same figure -- $189 million -- the 2014 Yankees plan to hit.
Either way, after adding another championship-level player and another huge contract that will almost certainly hurt on the back end, the world's most famous ballclub made a bold statement here. No proposed budget, or league-wide luxury tax, will ever stop the Damn Yankees from being the Damn Yankees.