Following a disappointing season that saw the Yankees fail to reach the postseason for the first time since 1993, amidst the festivities of the final season in beloved Yankee Stadium, they realize that they must make a strong statement this off-season. There is one main objective for revamping this underachieving roster: Add young superior talent.
They have colossal holes in four main areas: the starting rotation, no true first baseman, ancient options in left field and absolutely nothing in center field. With roughly $90M coming off the payroll, now is the time to act.
The first priority was the shortcomings of the pitching staff. The Yanks managed to win 89 games last season despite heavy workloads from Darrell Rasner, Sidney Ponson, Dan Giese, and other hilarious options. This is unacceptable. Brian Cashman and his cronies ponied up to pay a combined $43.5M per year on the young power arms of C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. Once Andy Pettitte decides to return as an anchor at the fifth starter slot at a discounted price, the rotation will be set.
However, Cashman has been susceptible in the past with his questionable decision making regarding position players. Think of the off-season after the 2004 season – Yanks were coming off the collapse to the Red Sox and instead of upgrading their center field position with Carlos Beltran, they decided to blow their wad on Randy Johnson and Carl Pavano. I think we all know how those two moves worked out and now they are twiddling their thumbs with Brett Gardner in center field.
The Yanks upgraded by sending little used utility man Wilson Betemit to the White Sox for Nick Swisher to play first base and outfield, and have entertained the notion of trading Melky Cabrera to the Brewers for center fielder Mike Cameron.
But why bring in another 36 year-old washed-up outfielder at $10M per year when you already have two others, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui (each make roughly $13M), fighting for playing time? Wouldn’t they be better off shelling out the $22M to Mark Teixeira and moving Nick Swisher into center field?
Teixeira is a 28 year-old gold glove first baseman. Have the Yanks had a real first basemen who can play solid defense and hit for power and average since Tino Martinez in 2001? No.
Cashman needs to realize that now is the time to strike, and strike effectively and intelligently. Grab Teixeira, who will provide stability at the first base position for the first decade of the new Stadium. He will crush the ball to the new short porch in right and is a solid player with a bull work ethic in the weight room. Let Manny Ramirez go play in LA. Then, save the $26M that will be shed off the payroll next summer (from Damon and Matsui’s corpse) and invest it in another young stud in the outfield, namely Matt Holliday.
The solution is simple – sign the high quality players while they are entering their prime, not after they just completed it. Cashman took the first step by upgrading the pitching staff while lowering the average age. Now its time to do the same for the position players.