We were probably all thinking it, but Matt Gelb was the one to say it:
Doesn't the Yankees spring remind you of the Phillies' from 2012?
Last year, the Phillies' spring was filled with unpromising updates about Chase Utley's oatmeal knees, Ryan Howard's ankle, and Roy Halladay's velocity. There was a feeling of "They'll be fine. They're the Phillies. They're always fine," even as the bad news kept coming. And when the season started, the Phillies lost 120 games (if memory serves.)
The Yankees found out over the winter that Alex Rodriguez was going to miss a chunk of the season, and things didn't get better from there. Curtis Granderson broke a bone right about the time he stepped off the plane in Florida, Phil Hughes has a bulging disc in his back and is questionable to start the season, and Mark Teixeira withdrew from the WBC because he heard a pop in his right wrist.
If you want to be cynical about the Yankees, look at their projected lineup for the start of the season. Then take Teixeira out of there for a bit. How many of those players are you confident in? Let's see, there's Robinson Cano, and ... well, Robinson Cano. Ichiro is 39 and coming off two straight down years, and Jeter, who will be 39 in June, is coming off ankle surgery. Kevin Youkilis is about 18 months removed from his last stretch of good hitting, and Travis Hafner is over five years removed from his last full season. Juan Rivera is going to play defense for a month. There isn't a catcher on the roster who can outhit CC Sabathia.
But I'm not buying it. The Yankees are a deceptive bunch of liars when it comes to reports of their imminent demise. This is something of a personal theme in my writing, and it will continue to be until the Yankees actually fail. When the Yankees traded for a 38-year-old Ichiro hitting .261/.288/.353, I wrote this:
Honestly, I'm expecting a .350/.370/.430 finish with a couple of big playoff hits. Just because. There's no supporting evidence.
Ichiro finished with a .322/.340/.454 line with the Yankees, so I was six hits off, but the point stands. It's going to work out for the Yankees, at least during the regular season. It always does.
So let's take a look at exactly what's going to happen with the Yankees this year. The exact events might not be right, but the important part is that everything will work out for the Yankees.
Juan Rivera hits .190/.189/.410 with four home runs, but every one of them will come in the eighth inning of a one-run game. CC Sabathia pitches well and stays healthy.
Curtis Granderson comes back and hits five home runs over three games, the last one being a walk-off that causes John Sterling to yell, "CURTIS BE LOVE? I THINK IT COULD BE" over and over until the fire department has to intervene. CC Sabathia pitches well and stays healthy.
A-ha! A prolonged losing streak! The Yankees are old! Derek Jeter is struggling! There are columns and articles about this! People have opinions! CC Sabathia pitches well and stays healthy.
The Yankees are in first place and no one knows what happened, which should make everyone realize that we're all living in a baseball version of Dark City, but of course we won't. Travis Hafner hits his 30th home run on the last day of the month. CC Sabathia pitches well and stays healthy.
Austin Romine is on the cover of Sports Illustrated after hitting for the cycle on consecutive days, and the sub-headline references Thurman Munson in some way. Also, Romine hits .330/.390/.480 even though he's never come close to those numbers in the minors. CC Sabathia pitches well and stays healthy.
Alex Rodriguez hits eight home runs in the month, and Michael Pineda wins all five of his starts. Ivan Nova wins his 20th, and Kevin Youkilis gets his 100th RBI at Fenway Park because the baseball gods are basically the little kid with the skull T-shirt from the first Toy Story. CC Sabathia pitches well and stays healthy.
Alex Rodriguez gives the rest of the team the chicken pox and falls down an open manhole.
Maybe the losing strike comes in May or July, and maybe it's not Romine who has the breakout season but Eduardo Nunez or Melky Mesa, which isn't even a real name. Maybe instead of all that up there, CC Sabathia will pitch well and stay healthy. But something will happen. Somethings will happen.
And if I'm wrong? That's the best part. It's not as if I like the Yankees, and I'll get to enjoy the quality schadenfreude that comes with watching any team falter after being good for far too long, whether it's the Yankees, Lakers, Cowboys, or Globetrotters. Those aren't the secret little wishes of a fanboy up there, so if they don't come true, it doesn't bother me at all.
But when you expect things like this, you don't feel so stupid when the Yankees are good year after year. Maybe the Yankees will be like the 2012 Phillies. I'll wait for the collapse to happen before I write about it.
Edit: So Teixeira is out eight to ten weeks? NOT FALLING FOR IT, YANKS.