Building for the Prime Directive…
I fully expect the Yankees to re-sign Derek Jeter…
There has been much speculation about DJ’s next deal and
if the Yankees would truly let #2 walk away or if they could afford to from a
historical perspective. It is not
outside of the realm of possibility for the Yankees to decide they’d be better
off putting the dollars in a younger talent.
However, I really do not expect that to happen.
I do think that it is important to see DJ record his
3,000th hit in pinstripes, although I agree if his play continues to
erode in 2011, it will be time to begin the search for his long-term
replacement. Frankly, I don’t think he
is done and I fully expect a few more strong seasons of play before the sunset
begins. Granted, they may not be
All-Star caliber but DJ can still man short on a championship squad. But obviously they’ll need a strong back-up
when training camp breaks next Spring.
Hopefully, Derek’s deal will include a role with the
organization when his playing days are over.
I do not know what he intends to do in his post-playing days but he is a
face of the organization and the continued association between the two parties
is mutually beneficial for all.
Here’s hoping the Yankees can come up with a creative
contract that entices DJ to finish his career with the Yankees while not
causing the Yankees to seek improvements in other areas due to financial
constraints. Life under Hal Steinbrenner
is different than life under George, and the Yankees won’t throw dollars at a
player simply because they can like they did in the old days.
As for the Cliff Lee chase, I am not sure what I
think. As much as I would like Cliff on
the Yankees, I definitely do not underestimate the Texas Rangers. When you read about Cliff Lee and his
Arkansas roots, it is clear that he is not a “me-first” kind of guy. On one hand, playing in Texas would be good
for him due to its close proximity to his home.
But conversely, if he signs a big deal with the Rangers, he will be THE
GUY in Texas. Success and failure will
be attributed to him. Whereas, signing
in New York, although he’d be on baseball’s biggest stage, he’d line up as the
#2 starter behind CC Sabathia. So, there
would actually be less pressure in New York, as hard as that is to
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The Yankees clearly need to improve their starting
rotation if they intend to succeed next season.
I expect CC to come back strong, but after that, the rotation is a
question mark. Phil Hughes has to take
it to the next level so the new pitching coach, whenever he is announced, will
have two major projects in Hughes and A.J. Burnett. I read the comments made by Andy Pettitte
where he said that he hasn’t decided yet and is enjoying being home in Deer
Park, Texas right now. He went on to say
that if he does play, it will only be for one more season and only for the
Yankees. At this point, I do think he’ll
come back for that final season. But if
not, I am prepared to accept Ivan Nova as the #5 starter. So this winter, the key is clearly coming up
with an ace to team with Sabathia.
From the sounds of it, the next pitching coach is the
current highest priority. Bullpen coach
Mike Harkey, Triple A pitching instructor Scott Aldred and former Yankees
pitcher Gil Patterson have been mentioned.
I am probably leaning toward Patterson, who is currently a pitching
coordinator in the Oakland A’s organization.
Nevertheless, I certainly would not be displeased to see Harkey get the
job. I don’t know much about Aldred but
I am sure that GM Brian Cashman and Manager Joe Girardi will make the right
choice. Maybe they consider hiring two…one
exclusively for A.J. Burnett!
At this point in his career, I’d probably prefer to see
the Yankees sign Mariano to a short-term deal.
He showed no effects of age last season, but the day will come when he
no longer has it. Ask Trevor
Hoffman. It would be sad seeing Mo
bounce around with a few teams at the end of his career. I’d prefer to see him step away on his own
terms when the time comes. Until then, I
do hope that it is in pinstripes.
I am completely in favor of the Yankees plan to move
Jorge Posada to full-time DH. I think he
still has a productive bat that can be enhanced by avoiding the rigors of
catching. Plus, it is time to see what
Jesus Montero and Austin Romine can do.
It will be interesting to see what the Yankees do with
the bullpen. Now that Kerry Wood has
been cut loose and will most likely sign a deal to be a closer elsewhere, the
Yankees need to ensure that they have choices in training camp for the bridge
to Mo (beyond Joba Chamberlain and other in house options like David
Robertson). Both are certainly capable
pitchers and I’d like to see one of them step forward in training camp. But there definitely needs to be a safety
net, plus an option for a back-up closer given Mo’s age.
This will be a critical off-season for the Yankees. The moves they make with Jeter, Rivera and
Posada have to be made with the future in mind.
Plus, they need to give the team a starting rotation that can shut down
hot hitters in October (unlike this past season). But getting to October will be
challenging. A healthy Boston team has
to be viewed as the favorite. GM Theo
Epstein has already been active in picking up former Florida Marlins pitcher
Andrew Miller. A former top draft pick,
Miller hasn’t succeeded yet, but he is still young enough to achieve his
potential. The Tampa Bay Rays should be competitive
but they are a bit of a wild card until we have an idea of what their 2011 team
will look like. I fully expect improved
play from the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles, both teams with quality
managers and strong young talent. I have
no doubt that Brian Cashman will continue racking up frequent flyer miles and
hotel award points as he looks to improve the 2011 squad…
But considering that he is the general manager of the New York Yankees, Brian knows the score. The moves he makes now must ensure success in October 2011. Nothing else matters.