Did Brian Cashman Fix The Yankees
Back in October, when the Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time since before the strike, I offered my solution on How To Fix The Yankees. I took a look at who was leaving, who was staying, what everyone was being paid, and how I would fill out the roster without increasing the payroll. Here’s the roster and payroll I suggested:
C – Jorge Posada – $13.1MM
C – Jose Molina – $2MM
1B – Mark Teixeira – $22.5MM
2B – Robinson Cano – $6MM
SS – Derek Jeter – $20MM
3B – Alex Rodriguez – $32MM
IF – Wilson Betemit – $1.165MM+
[Nick Swisher – $5.3MM]
IF – Cody Ransom – $400K
LF – Johnny Damon – $13MM
CF – Brett Gardner – $400K
RF – Xavier Nady – $6.5MM+
OF – Melky Cabrera – $1.4MM
DH – Hideki Matsui – $13MM
SP – CC Sabathia – $14MM
SP – Chien-Ming Wang – $5MM
SP – Mike Mussina- $12MM
[AJ Burnett – $16.5MM]
SP – Andy Pettitte – $5MM
SP – Joba Chamberlain – $400K
RP – Mariano Rivera – $15MM
RP – Damaso Marte – $4MM
RP – Brian Bruney – $1.25MM
RP – Jose Veras – $400K
RP – Edwar Ramirez – $400K
RP – Phil Coke – $400K
[Al Aceves – $400K]
RP – Mark Melancon – $400K
[Jonathan Albaladejo – $400K]
I said I’d rather see two pitchers and Teixeira than three new pitchers and that’s exactly what Cashman went out and did. There are some things that I know now that I didn’t know then.
1. Phil Coke will be working as a starter in Spring Training. As well he should. Pitchers are far more valuable in the rotation and should be given every opportunity to be developed as such until they prove they can’t handle it. So he’s out of my bullpen, replaced with a longman, Al Aceves. Dan Giese is another option if the Yankees choose to get Aceves regular starts at AAA.
2. Mike Mussina was dead set on retiring. So he’s out of the rotation, replaced with AJ Burnett, who will make more this season than Sabathia. Burnett has devastating stuff in regards to his pitch repertoire, but delicate stuff in regards to his elbow and shoulder. Andy Pettitte also signed for much lower than anticipated or originally offered. Incentives could escalate his salary to $12MM.
3. I’m getting the feeling that Mark Melancon will begin the year in the minors barring an incredible spring. So he’s out of my bullpen for now to, replaced with Jonathan Albaladejo for now. Albaladejo had a solid showing in winter ball and fared decently with the Yankees briefly in 2008 before getting injured.
4. The Yankees traded for Nick Swisher. He becomes part of what I’d use as a rotation of him, Johnny Damon, Xavier Nady and Hideki Matsui through left field, right field and DH. There’s been talk of trading Xavier Nady or spinning Swisher off somewhere before he even plays for the Yankees. But I’d hold on to both of them unless someone (Braves?) is desperate enough to pony up a top prospect for either of them. Matsui’s been through two knee surgeries in the past year and Swisher’s the only one of the four signed beyond 2009.
My base roster payroll comes out to $198.35MM, if every incentive is hit by every player with incentives, it comes out to just a shade over $208 million, exactly in line with last year’s payroll. The Yankees have only a few questions heading into the 2009 season.
I. Will Jorge Posada be healthy enough to catch 120+ games?
The Yankees really need Posada to return to his career averages and stay healthy because the alternatives are brutal. Jose Molina will hold his own behind the dish, but is outmatched by Major League pitching. Ditto Kevin Cash. New York has some stud catching prospects, but they’re all still several years away from being seriously considered Posada’s replacement. So Hip-Hip needs to remain effective for a couple more seasons.
II. How does the centerfield situation play out?
Right now, it looks like it’s between the constantly regressing Melky Cabrera and the good-field, no-hit, all-hustle Brett Gardner. The addition of Mark Teixeira to the lineup affords the Yankees the luxury of running one of these guys out there everyday and hitting them ninth to see what they’ve got. Personally, I’d stick Brett Gardner out there and let him play. During limited playing time late last season, Gardner showed terrific defensive value and if he can get on base with any regularity, steal some bases and go first to third, he should help the Yankees lineup by giving them some much-needed speed.
III. How does Alex Rodriguez handle all the new allegations?
Regardless of the Players Union’s definition of “confidential and anonymous” is, A-Rod will remain the center of attention of jealous, ex-jock journalists. His talent is undeniable, but his ability to deal with negative reports is questionable at best. He’s the best hitter the Yankees have and will need his bat to be raking in order to rebound from a down offensive output.