2013 New York Yankees
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2013 New York Yankees / Franchise: New York Yankees / BR Team Page
Managed by Joe Girardi
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2013 New York Yankees were coming off one of the most difficult off-seasons of their recent history. Two of the mainstays of the team over the previous two decades, SS Derek Jeter and closer Mariano Rivera had seen their 2012 seasons ended by injuries. The Yanks had been swept in four games by the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS, and had looked very bad in doing so. Chief among the underperformers was 3B Alex Rodriguez; it was announced in the off-season that he too was injured, and would need to miss at least the first half of 2013. A number of contributors to the previous season's division title departed as free agents over the winter, chief among them P Rafael Soriano, C Russell Martin, OFs Nick Swisher, Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez and 1B/3B Eric Chavez. In contrast to previous seasons, the Yankees did not sign any prominent free agents to take their place, as GM Brian Cashman explained that the team needed to practice a bit of financial restraint. As there were not many major league-ready players coming out of the minor leagues either, Cashman had to scour the major league refuse bins to fill out his roster, but he was lucky in that it seemed that every player who put on pinstripes suddenly found the fountain of youth, no matter how wretched his recent performance had been. With spring training came a slew of injuries: OF Curtis Granderson suffered a broken forearm; 1B Mark Teixeira had to bow out of the World Baseball Classic with a wrist injury; Jeter re-injured his ankle and had to miss the first half of the season; even Cashman himself suffered a broken ankle in a parachuting accident. But at least the great Mariano was ready to pitch again.
The Yankees started the season 1-4, and there was an air of gloom all around the team. But suddenly, things turned around. They went 14-2 the rest of the month to finish April just behind the first-place Boston Red Sox, who also started the year better than anyone had expected. Keys to the success were a few remaining veterans such as Rivera, 2B Robinson Cano and P Andy Pettitte, but also a bunch of players generally considered to be over-the-hill but picked up off the scrap heap to fill holes, such as OFs Vernon Wells and Brennan Boesch, DH Travis Hafner and 1B Lyle Overbay. However, concerns were still serious, as more injuries occurred during the month, a broken bone in his throwing hand for C Francisco Cervelli, a pulled muscle for P Joba Chamberlain and back problems for 3B Kevin Youkilis, another of the otherwise unwanted fill-ins who had pushed the team to its early winning record. All that while none of those already injured had yet made his return to the line-up. But the Yankees kept on winning nonetheless, with manager Joe Girardi displaying creativity to fill in his line-up card every day: on May 8th, he was forced to bat his pitcher, David Phelps, 8th in an interleague game against the Colorado Rockies, and then to use OF Wells at third base for the first time of his career while trying to hold a one-run lead in the 9th inning, because he had no other valid players left. The Yankees managed to win that game, but on May 12th had to place another starter on the DL, this time SS Eduardo Nunez, who had been filling in for the injured Jeter. Nunez had been inactive while nursing a rib injury for a week before going on the DL, creating more headaches for Girardi. Another cast-off, Alberto Gonzalez, was called up to take his place. The parade continued on May 17th as starting pitcher Pettitte, who had had to leave his previous day's start in the 5th inning with back pain, was the next addition to the DL. The first ray of light came on May 14th, when Curtis Granderson returned to the line-up after his spring training broken arm, with news out of Florida indicating that others, such as Teixeira, Youkilis and Nova, were on the mend and about to join him. But before that could happen, Granderson suffered another injury on May 24th, a broken bone in his hand that put him right back on the disabled list. But the band played on, and the Yankees won that game and were still in first place, a game ahead of the Red Sox, in spite of all the bricks that had rained on them. They finally began to show some cracks a couple of days later, when they lost four straight games to the New York Mets in an interleague series at Citi Field, May 27-30. Coming after a loss to the Tampa Bay Rays a day earlier, this skein marked the first time they had lost as many as three consecutive games, and dropped them out of first place. The losing streak ended on May 31st win a 4-1 win over the Red Sox that was also the return of Teixeira and Youkilis to the line-up after long absences.
In early June, the Yankees had a five-game stretch without a home run. It may not sound like much, but it was the first time this had happened to the team since the 2000 season. Robinson Cano ended the streak with a long ball against the Oakland Athletics on June 13th, but the Yankees still lost that game, 3-2, in 18 innings, leaving them in third place in the AL East, three games behind the Red Sox and only 2 ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays, although they were still 8 games above .500. That loss was part of another string of five consecutive losses, during which Youkilis returned to the disabled list for a second time and Teixeira left the team to return to New York and have his problematic right wrist again examined by a doctor. Teixeira's injury turned out to be season-ending, but the Yankees got some good news as both Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter began minor league rehabilitation assignments in July. Jeter was back in the starting line-up only four days later, on July 11th, after two more players, CF Brett Gardner and DH Hafner, went down with injuries the previous day, but he had to leave before the end of the game with a tight quad muscle and did not play again until the All-Star break, then was placed back on the DL. The Yankees ended the first half on a bleak note, losing their last two games at home against the last-place Minnesota Twins, a performance that resulted in their being booed by disappointed fans at the end of the last game on July 14th, a sloppy performance that saw them allow the Twins to score 5 unearned runs in a 10-4 win. They had fallen to 4th place, 6 games behind the Red Sox. It was at this point that the Alex Rodriguez situation became a veritable soap opera; he had been rehabbing from his hip operation in the minor leagues, and while his performance was far from overwhelming, the Yankees announced he was set to return to the team on July 22nd, only to change their mind one day before that date, claiming that A-Rod had strained a quadriceps muscle. A-Rod denied he was injured, though, and even got a physician to issue a second opinion in his favor. GM Brian Cashman threatened to seek punishment against the fallen superstar because he claimed the unauthorized medical consultation violated the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. The harsh words between the two served to highlight the fact that the Yankees were ready to use all means available to prevent Rodriguez from donning pinstripes again and were in fact hoping that he would be suspended by Major League Baseball in short order because of his central role in the Biogenesis Laboratories scandal.
The Yankees went into a huge offensive slump immediately after the All-Star Game, which was not a huge surprise given the patched-together line-ups they were putting on the field. With the team still in the chase for a post-season slot, Cashman pulled the trigger on a costly acquisition, getting former Yankee Alfonso Soriano from the Chicago Cubs in return for minor league pitcher Corey Black on July 26th. In the trade, the Yankees assumed responsibility for an important chunk of the remainder of Soriano's contract, which was paying him $18 million per year. Soriano was outstanding over the final two months, one more player who performed above expectations by donning pinstripes. More help came in the form of Derek Jeter's return to the field on July 28th, marked by a home run in his first at-bat, followed on August 2nd by that of Curtis Granderson. However, Jeter's return was short-lived, as he went back to the DL for a third stint on August 5th, this time victim of a strained calf muscle. That same day, Alex Rodriguez finally made his return to the line-up; ironically it was on that day that MLB handed him a 211-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal (injured catcher Francisco Cervelli received a 50-game suspension for his part), but he was able to play for the first time of the season because he was the only one among the 13 players disciplined by MLB to appeal his penalty. Surprising many observers, Rodriguez played well after his return, but the Yankees continued to be beset by injuries. Jeter was still bothered by various nagging health issues, forcing the Yankees to make one more trade on September 10th, to acquire veteran SS Brendan Ryan from the Seattle Mariners for a player to be named. Typical of most acquisitions that year, Ryan was hitting merely .192 at that point, but it was hoped that putting one the famed Yankee pinstripes would help him bounce back to a previous level of performance, to some extent. During that time, the team's postseason hopes were dwindling, as they were in fourth place in the AL East, although only 2 behind the second-place Rays, with the Orioles between them. The Cleveland Indians were also in the playoff picture, with a record identical to the Orioles', and all four teams were now fighting for the second wild card spot, as the first was almost certain to go to the team that would come out second in the fight for the AL West crown.
Not only were the Yankees in serious danger of missing the postseason on September 10th, but they were also assessed the largest luxury tax payment in major league history, at $29.1 million - or the equivalent of the entire payroll of the Houston Astros! In spite of their makeshift roster, their payroll stood at $232.6 million, miles above the $178 million threshold which triggered luxury tax payments that season, with the Los Angeles Dodgers the only other team to have exceeded the line. Of course, the Dodgers' spending had been a lot more successful, as they held a large lead in the NL West. The Yankees were officially eliminated from contention for the AL East title on September 15th, after being swept by the Red Sox in three games; they had lost 6 of 7 games to the Red Sox in two weeks and were losing ground in the wild card race as well. They were eliminated from any postseason contention on September 25th, when they lost, 8-3, to the Rays; it was only the second time they had missed the postseason since 1995, the other having come in 2008. While this was a disappointment, the fact that the team had managed to stay in the race until the last week of the season while being undermanned all year was a tribute to the managerial skill of Girardi, Cashman's aggressive work in finding players to put on the field in spite of all the injuries (the Yankees shattered the franchise record for most players used), and to the leadership of veteran players like Cano, Rivera or Gardner, who kept giving maximum effort all year in spite of the turmoil and injuries. Finishing with a winning record was a case of overachieving as, on paper, the team that took the field day after day should have been competing with the Blue Jays to avoid finishing in the cellar and not for a place in the postseason.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Robinson Cano and Mariano Rivera
- AL Comeback Player of the Year Award: Mariano Rivera
- AL Silver Slugger Award: Robinson Cano (2B)