There have been years in Yankee history when the Opening Day presence of just one of a group including Eduardo Nunez, Vernon Wells, Chris Stewart, Juan Rivera and Melky Mesa would be cause for alarm.
Barring some magical overnight change in status for Derek Jeter, there's a pretty good chance that all five of those players will be in the lineup when the Yankees and Red Sox get things going on April 1. April Fools Day, indeed.
Brian Cashman said Sunday that Jeter is likely headed to the disabled list to start the season as his fractured ankle continues to progress toward a point where it can hold up to playing shortstop in the major leagues. Jeter joins Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson on the sideline with the year about to start, a talent drain that has finally forced the Yankees to stop cutting coupons in hopes of actually scoring some runs.
Sadly, they've waited so long to make a move that the player available for them is Wells. The Angels outfielder actually makes Rodriguez seem like the owner of a reasonable contract. Wells signed a seven-year, $126 million deal in 2006 with the Blue Jays and has provided almost no return on that investment before the Angels tried their luck.
He's got $42 million left on the remaining two years of the deal, $13 million of which the Yankees will reportedly be responsible for and which will push money onto the previously untouchable 2014 payroll. That's problematic on two fronts.
The first is that the Yankees refused to make any move that stretched beyond this season for a decent player, leaving them to wind up spending the money under duress for a player who won't help that much anyway. Also, the Yankees are paying $13 million for a player who would be overpaid making the league minimum after two straight years of replacement level performances.
When you wait for the last minute, you get to pay a premium for a crappy product. It's true on Christmas Eve and it's true in baseball, something the Yankees probably should have known when they were choosing to go with Matt Diaz (since released) instead of players known for something more than mediocrity.
The Yankees have been saving money, but it clearly wasn't for a rainy day because it's really coming down right now and the Yankees are trying to patch the roof with mesh.