Wednesday, November 3, 2010

State of the Yankees: Offseason Edition

Two nights ago, the San Fransisco Giants were crowned the kings of Major League Baseball for the 2010 season.  I know I have been slacking on my posts but school has consumed my life thus far.  So here's a quick recap of the 2010 Yankees postseason.

The Yankees were crowned the American League Wild Card Winners after losing the AL East title to the Tampa Bay Rays.  Winning the wild card was a good thing for the Yankees as they were able to play the Minnesota Twins in the division series.  The last few years the Yankees have played the Twins in the division round they were able to dispose of them easily, particularly in 2003, 2004, and 2009.  Nothing was different in 2010, as the Yankees swept the Twins.

The League Championship series was a different story for the Yankees.  The Yankees won games 1 and five, but were outplayed severely by the Rangers.  Cliff Lee was not the biggest problem, it was the Ranger's pitching in general and the Yankees inability to hit at all.  Robinson Cano was the only offensive player who showed up to play in that series.

Following the postseason, the Yankees made some changes.  Most notably, pitching coach Dave Eiland was given the axe in what General Manager Brian Cashman called a "personal reason".  The public was given no other explanation but Manager Joe Girardi did not object.  Girardi signed a new three year contract worth between $9 and $10 million.

Cashman's checklist for the remainder of this offseason should be a big one.  Here's some areas that need to be addressed:

1. What to do with Derek Jeter?
I like everyone else believes Jeter will be resigned.  The biggest questions however are how long will Jeter resign and for how much?  Hal Steinbrenner went on the radio yesterday to say that negotiations between Jeter's camp and the Yankees could get "messy".  The issue will be how the Yankees decide to reward Jeter.  I expect a very heavy incentive based contract.  But, will they reward him for the 14 seasons prior to this year's dismal performance, where five championships were won and Jeter put up MVP-caliber seasons?  Or, will Cashman try to play the card that Jeter is in decline after batting .40 points lower then his career average?  My guess is they go somewhere in the middle.  It has been rumored that Jeter wants to play until he is 42 - the same year Alex Rodriguez' contract will run out.  I don't expect Jeter to earn a six year contract but I would assume he could get a three of four year deal. Just think, nothing will look worse then Jeter getting his 3,000 hit in another uniform - one without pinstripes.

Closer Mariano Rivera is also a free agent, but after having another amazing season his new contract should not be an issue.  

2. How can the rotation be fixed?
As of right now, three of the five starters are coming back.  Unfortunately, this is not a guaranteed good thing.  CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes were two of the more reliable starters this past season and should be able to maintain (in Sabathia's case) and potentially improve in Hughes' case their form for next season.  A.J. Burnett was the most inconsistent starter in the major leagues all of last season.  One could never know what would occur each time he took the mound.  Hopefully, the new pitching coach that is hired will be able to correct Burnett.  It is unknown what  Andy Pettitte's plans are for next season especially since it was reveled Pettitte had injuries in the offseason in his back.  After taking some time off I do expect Pettitte to come back after having one of his best seasons - minus the groin injury he experienced.  Finally with one spot in the rotation up for grabs, I expect the Yankees to sign free agent Cliff Lee.  The Yankees tried to go after Lee before the trade deadline in July when the Rangers acquired him from Seattle.

3. What about the bullpen?
Last season, the bridge to Mariano was in pretty good shape.  With David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain and Kerry Wood the Yankees had the best late inning bullpen relief in the majors.  Chamberlain and Robertson will be back next season.  The Yankees already declined Wood's option for next season and they will try to resign him at a lower price but that does not seem possible as Wood was lights out next season.  Boone Logan was the Yankees most consistent and at times only left handed reliever in the bullpen.  Look for Brian Cashman to add another lefty in the pen for at least Spring Training.

4. Will the Yankees go after Carl Crawford?
My personal wish is no.  The Yankees did just fine this past season with Curtis Granderson hitting at a sub par level for the majority of last season.  But hitting coach Kevin Long worked with Granderson in late July to revamp his swing.  After Long fixed his swing, Granderson became one of the most reliable hitters in the Yankees lineup - especially in the postseason.  Granderson has proven he can handle the spotlight of New York and I think it would be wise to bring Granderson back with a smaller contract.  Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher should be able to handle left and right field respectively.

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