For the first time in over a decade, the Yankees did not get their man. Nearly 95% of their offseason was banked on a potential high-priced acquisition of Cliff Lee. Now that he has chosen to return to Philadelphia, the Yankees have major holes in their starting rotation, and have likely fallen behind the hated Red Sox with their acquisitions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. Before all the irrational, media-manipulated Yankee fans jump off the George Washington Bridge, it's important to remember that they made it to Game 6 of the 2010 ALCS with essentially the same roster they have right now. So it is not out of the question that the Yankees can return to October glory in 2011. But they will need help.
The remainder of the Yankee offseason should be centered around the following five strategies:
1. Do NOT trade for Zach Greinke.
Forget his social anxiety issues and the potential to become the next Ed Whitson in New York. Greinke has only had one ace-caliber Major League season, his 2009 Cy Young season. If you look at his stats from last season and 2008 and before, what exactly screams the word "ace" to you? In 2010, he went 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. In 2008, he went 13-10 with a 1.28 WHIP. Solid, but not ace material. Before 2008, Greinke did not have ONE season with a .500-plus record since his Major League debut in 2003. There is no denying this man's talent, but to me, he is more of a number 2 or 3 starter. If the Yankees decide to mortgage the farm for him, they'd better realize what kind of pitcher they are getting. Then pray he can handle New York.
2. Convince Andy Pettitte to come back for one more year.
Let's face it, the Yankees need Ol' Reliable Andy now more than ever with Lee out of the picture. Before second half injury issues, Pettitte, at age 38, was on his way to the best season of his career. He went 11-2 with a 2.70 ERA, made the All-Star team, and was highly considered a Cy Young Award favorite. Who's to say that if he stays healthy throughout 2011, that he can't at least approach a 20-win season? Of course, it will cost the Yanks more money to convince him.
3. Trade for a viable #2 or #3 starter behind CC. As mentioned before, Greinke would be a good fit as a 2 or 3 starter, IF makeup weren't such an issue. The Yankees will have to get creative here. Josh Johnson of the Marlins would be a perfect fit, but the Marlins wouldn't dare trade him one year before opening their new ballpark. Carlos Zambrano? Don't even get me started. Chad Billingsley? It may take top prospects Jesus Montero AND Austin Romine to get him to New York, and that is far too much for a non-ace. Other possibilities may be Fausto Carmona of the Indians and Francisco Liriano of the Twins, but both may not be available, either.
The man the Yankees should seriously consider trading for is Derek Lowe of the Braves. Atlanta is desperate to unload his contract, and Lowe would be a perfect innings-eater for a depleted Yankees staff. Assuming Pettitte returns, The Yankee rotation would consist of Sabathia, Pettitte, Lowe, Hughes, and Burnett. That is a solid enough rotation if all are healthy, especially in the AL East. Lowe is a gamer, knows the AL East well from his years in Boston, and would fit the Yankees nicely. Also, the Yankees may not have to give up their A-list prospects for him.
And by the way, if anyone even thinks the Yankees will throw money at Carl Pavano, I will personally come after you on the streets in a Ferrari filled with supermodels and hemmorhoid medication in the glove compartment!
4. Bring back Kerry Wood and spend, spend, spend on the bullpen!
At this point of the offseason, Kerry Wood is better suited to returning to the Yankees, since no teams seem desperate for a closer. Perhaps he is waiting to see what Rafael Soriano does before he makes his move, but Wood was a perfect fit as the 8th-inning bridge to Mariano Rivera last season. Maybe the Yankees can convince Soriano to be the set-up man, giving the Yanks a potential 6-7-8-9 inning combo of David Robertson, Wood, Soriano, and Rivera. That would be scary for the rest of the American League. Also, the Yankees should take a long look at Pedro Feliciano for a second lefty to complement Boone Logan, as their lefty options are running thin at this point. As for Joba Chamberlain? I personally believe he will be traded in a potential deal for a starting pitcher. If not, he provides incredible depth in an already deep pen assuming the Yanks load up.
5. Pray, PRAY A.J. Burnett gets his act together.
The Yanks are stuck with him for the next three seasons, with what is essentially an untradeable contract. Burnett is the key to the Yankees' success in 2011, and I'm not talking about the clubhouse pie-throwing contests. Burnett's 2010 season will go down as one of the most historically bad in baseball history. A playoff team that boasted a pitcher with a 10-15 record and a 5+ ERA reveals two seperate dynamics for next year's team. If Burnett duplicates his 2010 year, the Yankees will struggle to make the playoffs. If he goes out and has the best season of his career, and his mechanics are completely fixed by new pitching coach Larry Rothschild, the Yankees should at least get in to the postseason as the wild card. Burnett has the talent to be an ace on half the Major League staffs. At age 34, time is running out for him to show it. Next year needs to be that year.
NFL Picks for Week 15 (2-2 last week, 16-16 overall)
Phi +3 over NYG
DAL -6 over Wsh
NO +2 over BAL
PIT -6 over NYJ