“They’re not supermen,” whined Hank Steinbrenner of his undermanned Yankees (“no team I’ve ever seen in baseball has been decimated like this. It would kill any team”), while guaranteeing that 2009 will be a different story (“we’re going to win it next year…we’ll do whatever we need to do.”) Following Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to Minnesota, the considerably more rational Tim Marchman of the New York Sun mulls over Hank’s promise, and suggests a Winter pursuit of C.C. Sabathia, Ben Sheets or Mark Teixeira is unlikely, as “the numbers just don’t add up.”

For next year, the Yankees already have $111 million committed to Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Mariano Rivera, and Jose Molina. Figure another $12 million for players eligible for arbitration or whose salary the team can set ” Chien-Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain, and Melky Cabrera, most prominently ” and this leaves the team with $77 million to fill out the rest of the roster if they shell out about $200 million altogether, as they usually do.

As much money as that is, it has to replace a lot ” no. 3 and no. 5 hitters, no. 2 and no. 3 starters, and a guy who once spent several months on the disabled list with a strained butt. Say the Yankees signed Sabathia for $25 million and Teixeira for $20 million. Say they also picked up Damaso Marte’s $6 million option and signed Chicago reliever Bob Howry or some equivalent pitcher for $6 million to help stabilize the young bullpen, and finagled Mussina into coming back for $11 million. That would leave the team short an outfielder, with no regular designated hitter, and just $8 million left to spend on the bench ” none of which takes into account the chance that Jorge Posada may not be able to catch next year.

You can play these scenarios out any way you like, but any way you do it, you bump up against limits quickly. Signing Sabathia, Mussina, Abreu, Marte, Howry, and Frank Thomas, for instance, would fill all the holes, at least if you moved an outfielder to first base. It would also come to something like $72 million, leave nearly nothing for the bench or contingencies, and leave the team worse off than they are this year, given the effects of aging.

Howry would sort of be the pitching version of eating at the old Horn & Hardart Automat — few attributes to speak of, but as Marchman suggests, he’d certainly fill a hole.