|Jacoby Ellsbury has signed with the Yankees. (AP photo)|
This has everything to do with the next signing, and we're not talking about the Yankees adding Kelly Johnson, which is likely the newest player to join the Bronx Bombers on a one-year deal to play third or second base. This has everything to do with Robinson Cano.
If the Yankees and Cano somehow come to a compromise to keep the star second baseman in pinstripes next season, this mega-deal for Ellsbury becomes a home run. If the Yankees have a master plan to turn last year's disaster of a season into reason to turn the roster over with some big key makeovers, then this offseason could be the start of another Yankees run of postseason appearances and world championships.
Now, if the Yankees are putting all of their resources into Ellsbury and giving up on re-signing Cano, then this turns into a terrible move. There is no way Ellsbury is comparable to Cano on the field, especially considering the Yankees already have a player who plays with the same style. Of course, Gardner is nowhere near as talented as Ellsbury is, but it would be more of a luxury signing than anything else. The Yankees aren't in position to do that anymore, especially after last year's disappointing season.
The Yankees did add free agent catcher Brian McCann and are sure to make a run at one or two big-time pitchers in the coming days and weeks, but Cano is the key player this offseason. He is the one player that will let you know if this is the start of a rebirth of how the Yankees used to run the organization.
Bringing back Cano not only gives the Yankees the most feared lineup in the game again, it proves the Bronx Bombers are back. When George Steinbrenner died, it was the end of the win-at-all-costs mentality. One that had become a staple of the Yankees during their recent dynasty. Today's Yankees, under the leadership of Hal Steinbrenner, have been all about saving money on the field and making money off it. Winning games was secondary.
Last year was a low point for Yankees fans, as the team folded down the stretch and missed the postseason. Worse yet, the team's hierarchy didn't seem to care.
Signing McCann and Ellsbury is a great start to the free agency period. It proves, right now, the Yankees have regained a bit of the swagger they had gained when Steinbrenner's money and obsession to win drove the team to do whatever it took to get the job done on the field, and not caring in the least what the rest of the league thought. The Yankees had no problem thumbing their nose at the rest of the league.
The Yankees are on their way to getting that back. The Red Sox just won the World Series, so what do the Yankees do? They sign one of their best players. Just like they did with Johnny Damon eight years ago.
The Yankees of old never got pushed around ... they would move on immediately and make an even bigger signing afterward if a player wouldn't budge. (Remember, it was Hank Steinbrenner who gave in and gave Alex Rodriguez his terrible new contract in 2007). That could have been the case when Carlos Beltran insisted on three years, and will likely get it from the Kansas City Royals. They Yankees, instead of caving in and giving out a bad deal to Beltran, went younger and bigger by bringing in Ellsbury.
Even if you hate the Yankees, the one thing you must respect about them is they don't take kindly to missing the postseason. Unlike other teams, the Yankees have no problem blowing up the roster to get the results they desire. The Yankees made big changes after the 2008 season, the last time they missed the playoffs. They would go on to win the world championship a year later.
Nobody is predicting a world title this season, mainly because nobody has seen the end result yet. The Yankees need a couple of starting pitchers and have to hope they are allowed to post a bid on Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who has the potential to be the team's ace.
More importantly, the team needs to bring back Cano. It's the difference between the Yankees truly proving they are back to the win-at-all-costs mentality or just trying to mask a lower payroll with a big-name signing.