The Yankees' process of team building is a unique one when it comes to getting attached to particular players. Their best prospects don't seem to stick around much and they're constantly adding new and expensive parts to the roster. With the departure of Robinson Cano, there aren't a whole lot of homegrown talents to get behind aside from the venerable Derek Jeter. So we find ourselves looking to get behind those fancy new free agents. Personally, I've seen buying the jersey or merchandise of a brand new player as an investment of sorts. You're betting that that particular player will not only perform well, but that you'll enjoy watching the player. For example, I bought Alex Rodriguez's and Mark Teixeira's jerseys a short while after they were acquired with obviously mixed results.
So in another meaningless offseason thought experiment, I wondered which of the new Yankees is most likely to be counted among the O'Neills, Cones and Mussinas as a "mercenary" turned fan favorite.
Pros: A perennial All-Star and possible Hall of Famer. Is replacing Chris Stewart. Might be a crazy person in a good way. Who doesn't love a great catcher?
Cons: Looks terrifying without facial hair. May fight people on the field. Might be a crazy person in a bad way.
I would say that McCann is the safest bet of the Yankees new players to find success in New York, and that's usually the determining factor in a player's popularity around these parts. He has the track record and his intensity should play well with the media and a lot of fans.
Pros: Ditched the evil Red Sox for New York. Fast players are (generally) exciting to watch. Should park a few homers into the cheap seats in right.
Cons: The Red Sox stink is still quite fresh. Comes in with "fragile" label and will be torn apart after his first DL stint. Makes the most money of the new guys.
I would venture to say Ellsbury has the biggest bust potential of the big three, so it's hard to project what the fans will think of him . Batting .290 and playing great defense is probably not going to be enough for most people. If he can return to something close to the form he displayed in 2011 he'll be the best of the bunch and probably the most popular.
Pros: Like McCann is a potential Hall of Famer and established star. People love guys with the "clutch" label. Is the best pure hitter the Yankees acquired. Took (slightly) less money to come here.
Cons; Another freshly acquired "old" guy which fans seem to hate. Not the same dynamic athlete he used to be.
Beltran's only signed for three years, so he's less likely to have the time to cement himself as a Yankee great. But it's easy to get behind a guy who's had the sort of career he's had. And a player that can still mash like Beltran can is certain to garner plenty of support.
Pros: Maybe Brian Roberts will surprise us all and be good again!
Cons: Most of these guys aren't particularly talented.
Short of getting a game-winning hit in a World Series, it's unlikely any of these guys will go down in Yankees lore. You might have to get your Kelly Johnson jersey custom-made, which is inconvenient.
I'll be very interested to see the mix of new names on the backs of fans at Yankee Stadium come next season. I assume it will still mostly be Rivera and Jeter jerseys, but new faces can still be fun in their own way. So who of the new guys will you be throwing your support behind the most? And bonus question: will you be buying any of their jerseys/merchandise for next season?