Someone very close to the pursuit of Jacoby Ellsbury was asked Tuesday night what this all means. The person was reminded that the New York Yankees were supposed to be cutting costs this holiday season, that they were downsizing the payroll to a nickel or two below the luxury tax threshold of $189 million, and that they were not expected to throw eighty-five mil at Brian McCann one week and one hundred and fifty three mil at Ellsbury the next.
The person measured the question, sighed, and then stated the obvious.
"They're the Yankees," he said. "They're always going to be the Yankees, and that's never, ever going to change."
[+] EnlargeJim Rogash/Getty ImagesJacoby Ellsbury has reached agreement on a seven-year contract with the Yankees.
In other words, this is why there was a Broadway musical called Damn Yankees and not Damn Anyone Else, and certainly not Damn Mets (though, technically, the Mets didn't exist when the musical debuted in 1955, but you get the point). The Yankees are always going to be the Yankees. The Yanks believe they can still pay you, maybe as much as $175 million, while remaining under the tax line and saving themselves a boatload of cash to reinvest in talent sooner rather than later.
Only if you demand at least eight years and $200 million, have fun in Seattle, because even the Yankees have their limits. So seven years after signing Johnny Damon, why would the Yankees take away from the Boston Red Sox another fast left-handed hitting outfielder, other than to prove to the Red Sox and the rest of creation that they could?
"You're building up the middle with McCann and Ellsbury," one source said. He's going to hit more home runs in Yankee Stadium than he did at Fenway, and you can put him or Gardner in center and move the other one to a corner."
So the Yankees made two monster deals, with more to come, after scaring their fan base to death with so much talk about payroll restraint this offseason. Worse yet, the Red Sox won it all for the third time since they humiliated their blood rivals with their deferred sweep in the 2004 ALCS, putting the parade count at 3-1 in favor of Boston since that historic series.
Yankees blog Want to get the scoop on everything in pinstripes? In explaining why he wasn't interested in Crawford, Cashman said, "I feel like we've got Carl Crawford in Brett Gardner, except [Gardner] costs more than $100 million less, with less experience."
The same could be said of Ellsbury-Gardner, but the Yankees went all in anyway. Maybe they'll end up back on top of the AL East because of it, or maybe they'll end up a big box-office bust the likes of the Brooklyn Nets, already in turmoil two months into a season that will cost their owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, around the same figure -- $189 million -- the 2014 Yankees plan to hit.
Either way, after adding another championship-level player and another huge contract that will almost certainly hurt on the back end, the world's most famous ballclub made a bold statement here. No proposed budget, or league-wide luxury tax, will ever stop the Damn Yankees from being the Damn Yankees.