Amazing what a few billion dollars can buy you. Like the best team (on paper) in Major League Baseball. As yesterday's trade deadline passed, the "Evil Empire" NY Yankees again flexed their formidable financial muscles by acquiring 1B Lance Berkman, who in his prime was a perennial all-star and one of the top hitters in the league, reliever Kerry Wood & OF Austin Kearns, who at one time was considered a top prospect before injuries slowed his career.
How do the Yankees continue to stockpile such high-profile players, you ask? Could be the ire of playing for the storied NY Yankee franchise who have amassed more championships than any team in history, in any sport. Could be that the Yankees can offer top dollar to free agents with no regard for the dreaded MLB luxury tax. Rarely are they outbid. Smaller market franchises just can't compete with NY's buying power. Just 2 off-seasons ago, the Yanks added the best pitcher (CC Sabathia), top free agent bat (Mark Teixeira) and another top-tier pitcher in AJ Burnett. Those signings alone equaled a whopping $423 million combined. Put this into perspective: just the salaries of these 3 players is more than seven teams total payroll! Add in A-Rod, "Mr. Yankee" Derek Jeter, closer extraordinaire Mariano Rivera, Robinson Cano, and a circus monkey just for kicks, and you have the favorites to win the world series almost every year.
I can't fault the Steinbrenners for abandoning the traditional strategy of building your team through the farm system. They go out & repeated get players that have already established themselves as top players and worry about chemistry later. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes its a failed experiment (see Gary Sheffield). It definitely makes them mighty easy to root against.
Time will tell if this season's trade acquisitions will be enough to vault the Yankees to their second championship in as many years. Tampa Bay has been strong this season and will continue to present a challenge in the loaded AL East. But one thing is for sure; Money Talks.