As someone who was an advocate for the hiring of Joe Girardi as Yankees manager it pains me to write this. There needs to be some accountability in the Bronx and a change of culture. For far too long dating mostly back to the end of the 2004 season, there has been far too much of a prevailing "fat-cat" attitude in which veteran players would stroll into town looking to gravy train a ride to a championship on the backs of the guys who've done it four times before. Except there's only four guys left from that run and they're getting older and their backs are breaking with nobody else picking up the water.
While a shouting Hank Steinbrenner is much better than an empty missive from "The Boss" via a publicist, those words need to be followed up with action, pronto. It's not enough to tell A-Rod to go jump in a lake when he opts-out, only to come back and reward him with $300 million, especially when your captain starts talking like the Yankees won before without him and with gamers like say perhaps a Mike Lowell type at 3rd. You can't complain or should take action if your GM didn't want Johan Santana and you did, you're the new boss, you have the final say to sign off on it.
This Yankees team should've unloaded some fat contracts along with Torre and Cashman after the 2004 ALCS debacle. The problem here is when you scream at these guys (especially the hitters) they realize that the Yankees can't move 'em because of their contracts and there's no competition off the joke of a bench (somewhere Bernie Williams is laughing) and nobody but the likes of Brett "freaking" Gardner to pressure them from the minors. And why if you're pegging Ian Kennedy as a big part of your future or you have guys in the minors touted as the next "Joba" or "Mo" such as Mark Melancon, J.B. Cox or Daniel McCutchen are you stunting their growth with stop gaps like Sidney Ponson, Darrell Rasner and LaTroy Hawkins?
In my view if the Yankees after playing the next five games against Boston and Tampa, end up ten games out of a playoff spot at the All-Star break, I would advocate making some serious changes. This team can't have it both ways, either trade for some big ticket guys who'll help your squad for the next 3-5 years or rip it all down and start getting rid of the old overpaid guys.
So far there have not been any high expectations held on Girardi like there were on Torre, whose contract renewal was dependent upon incentives such as say reaching the ALCS in 2008. And why was Girardi chosen? The same reason Lou Pinella was not: Brian Cashman wanted all the power and Lou Pinella with his popularity, track record and high regard from The Boss, would've usurped Cashman's power with the Yankees in wanting his own players in his clubhouse.
So if the Yankees are ten out at the All-Star break or trading deadline, I say start making changes at the top. Hence my new GM would be Gene "Stick" Michael and my new Manager would be Buck Showalter and if A-Rod doesn't like it, tough he can leave just like Roberto Kelly, Mel Hall and the like of the early 90's.
Following that I would try to make some deals to bring back some younger players. For example the Yankees have a few guys in the last year of their contracts. Thus I might try and deal a guy like Jason Giambi to a team that needs a bopper and is in contention like his old team the A's, his old manager Joe Torre and the Dodgers or even the Giants who are incredibly still alive in the sorry NL West.
After that I'd try to flip a guy like Mike Mussina who is having a fine season to a contender where he'd get a shot at a ring. Moose lives in Pennsylvania and the Phillies with Brett Myers blowing up, could use a vet to help bolster a post-season run and team him up with the guy he was compared with, "slow and slower" Jamie Moyer.
Though he is a quality character guy in the clubhouse and has won in New York before, would be good with the young pitchers and they would risk him not returning next season, they might be able to get something back for Andy Pettitte. If Texas continues to hover around .500, they need pitching. Perhaps if Arizona (closer to home) or old skipper Joe Torre comes calling in L.A. Pettitte would be open to it if for just a 2-3 month playoff run.
Maybe a team with closer issues such as the Tigers or Cardinals takes a bite on either Kyle Farnsworth or LaTroy Hawkins.
Finally, both Bobby Abreu and Johnny Damon are swinging the bats well enough this season to warrant some interest. Perhaps a team with the need of a veteran presence comes knocking, like Oakland, Minnesota, Florida or Milwaukee.
Of course I could be way off here and the Yankees wheel off 15 wins in a row. But in any event someone has to stand up and be accountable or held accountable and decide where the Yankees are headed in 2008 or start getting ready for 2009 and beyond. Because you can't have your cake and eat it for too long, or else you risk getting really fat and imploding all together.