One of the bigger subplots of the 2013 year will be how the Yankees will perform with the third oldest starting lineup in MLB history. Many are predicting the O's and Blue Jays to win the AL East with the Yanks finishing below .500. Finishing below .500 is not worth writing about.... unless its the Yankees. Below .500 happens to many teams many times, however NOT to the Yanks. They have not finished below 87 wins since Clinton was in his first term in the WH. Amazing. They had success in the 90's with their farm system and long time positional players, and won in stunning and convincing fashion for years. As time moved on, were dubbed the "Evil Empire in 2002" as they continued the success in a different manner, by purchasing many free agents to replace retiring Yanks (not a new Yankee tactic). This method also bought them success into the 2000's. As the luxury tax era entered, however, the Yanks simply seemed to accept this tax as the natural "price to pay" for success. They have topped the salary charts with over $200 million since 2008. Their roster consisted of long time and expen$ive Yanks, with the occasional FA pick up that kept the lineup strong from start to finish. The farm system, however, was essentially a body filler. THIS will not bode well for the Bombers.
Then (recently) the luxury tax got even tougher and more pricey, perhaps a MLB effort to counter the Yanks generosity. Their farm system had little top level talent to fill in the pieces, which meant the Yankee Way had to keep big the time names in spite of talent growth and player development. Sparing the details (feel free to fill in the blanks), this latest luxury increase has seemingly detered the long term spending goals on the
Steinbrenners. The current plan is either attrition (see Rivera) or non-sign / release long term expensive contracts as appropriate (see Swisher & Soriono).
The Yanks will be faced with a sub .500 year with a bunch of incredibly old and somehow still above average talent. But the team, with all it's injuries slated for 2013, is simply a shadow of its former strong self. This happened IMO to keep the "captain" structure in place (i.e Jeter) and keep the BIG names simply because it is the culture of doing so (Ruth, Gerhig, Mantel etc...). Sort of an hommage to years and teams gone by. This is the Yankee Way.
The immediate future seems very dim for the Pinstripes. Their 2013 farm system has been labeled "mediocre" by their own ranking system (Bronx Baseball Daily) with the real talent toward the bottom of their system, years away from the majors.
So, it would seem with the Yankees apparent observance of the new luxury tax structure (which will take them below $189 million in 2015), the expected retiring of many Yankee has-beens (Jeter, ARod, Petite), the realt talent getting older (Sabathia, Chamberline) a lack of upper level farm system talent, the Yanks have a bleak immediate future which might lead them to several sub .500 seasons, perhaps at least until 2016.
Many, including long time diehard Yankee fans, have accepted the fact that the "Yankee Way", which to essentially buy a World Series through attracting the best free agents and keeping them past their prime at the expense of the farm system. They can do this because they're the simply the most recognizeable baseball team in history and apparently every kid in Little League wants to play for the Yanks (jk). The short term goal will be to release players, dump big time contracts and get under the luxury tax. The Yankees machine will continue to earn dollars though merchandise sales (again, thru simply being the Yankees).
As for what they will do after this salary purge is all done, who knows. I doubt they can recover lower level talent by trading players like Jeter and ARod (becoming the Marlins)... they're just past their time and no team would give the Yanks what they want in return. Who knows. Perhaps after 5 years of sub .500 they will make a pitch to Rizzo to become the new Steinbrenner
I wouldn't put it past the "Evil Empire" that strives for league dominance year after year.