In March, the so called experts (me???) wrote off the New York Yankees in the American League East. Too old and too many injuries.
The talk of spring training centered on the refurbished Toronto Blue Jays with Baltimore and Tampa Bay battling for second place and a possible wild-card playoff berth.
With three-fourths of their star-studded infield on the long-term disabled list, the Yankees were doomed for failure in 2013. This would be the year Yankee Stadium would be dark in October.
How can you win with first baseman Mark Teixeira ($23 million), shortstop Derek Jeter ($17 million) and third baseman Alex Rodriguez ($29 million) likely to miss half the season?
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The nine position players who started for the Yanks on Tuesday night against the Orioles combined for just $45 million in salary, one-third of which came from the $15 million being paid to second baseman Robinson Cano.
As of this week the Yankees will have nearly $100 million worth of players on the disabled list. That's a sum that exceeds the total salary expenditures of seven teams in the American League.
So how is it that just over a quarter of the way through the 162-game season, New York has the second best record in the AL and leads Toronto by 10 games?
As a lifelong Yankee hater, I don't like writing this, but there is something special that happens to players when they don the pinstripes.
This has been going on for years.
The 2013 New York team has three such players -- Travis Hafner, Lyle Overbay and Vernon Wells. If you haven't heard much about them in recent seasons, you are not alone. Yet these "over-the-hill" pickups have combined to hit 25 home runs and drive in 74 runs through Tuesday night.
All three were available this winter to any other team, but it was Yankees general manager Brian Cashman who signed them in February and March.
Cashman has been GM of the Yankees for 15 years and only once has his team failed to make the postseason. No one in baseball has come close to matching that record.
His detractors say that Cashman has had the advantage of working for an ownership that is willing to spend in the neighborhood of $220 million a year on salaries.
How can you not win with those kind of high-priced players?
Well, the Los Angeles Dodgers are doing just that this season. LA has a total payroll of $216 million and as of Wednesday morning the Dodgers were in last place in the National League West with an 18-26 record. And manager Don Mattingly, a former Yankee, is about to get fired.
Interestingly, Mattingly was a finalist for the Yankees managerial job in 2008 and lost out when Cashman picked Joe Girardi. Looks like a another good decision by the GM.
Girardi's teams have made the playoffs the last four years. The Dodgers have never reached the post season with Mattingly at the helm.
As so it goes with these damn Yankees. Cashman, Girardi, money and a winning tradition like none other in professional sports history.
Now it looks like another chapter is being written with some low-priced players in leading roles.
Love 'em or hate 'em, this is truly America's Team.