With Christmas just five days away, I thought it would be fun at what Yankees general manager Brian Cashman would like to see under his Christmas tree for the 2012 season. Fortunately for Yankee fans, the team is pretty much assembled for 2012, but, Cashman is always looking for ways to make improvements.
Wish No. 1: A (reliable) starting pitcher
When the offseason began, I like many others, believed that Cashman was going to overspend for a pricey free agent starting pitcher named C.J. Wilson. Wilson had previously expressed that he would not mind pitching in New York. As the baseball capital, New York is often one of the most intimidating places to play for free agents due to increase scrutiny from the press as well as from the fans. What was a big turn off for Cashman and other executives though was how forward Wilson's agent was in demanding a contract from the Bombers. The Yankees didn't budge and Wilson eventually signed with the Los Angeles Angels who no doubt could have bailed out the government with how much money they invested in Albert Pujols and Wilson.
The free agent pitchers that are now available are at best, mediocre. Roy Oswalt, was once a top of the line starter when he pitched for the Houston Astros. However, once he got out of the offensively challenged NL Central and moved to the elite NL East, he struggled. I'm questioning what his stuff would be like in the best division in baseball, the AL East. He recently came out and said that he would only like a one year contract, but at what price? Oswalt was hurt most of the season last year with the Phillie and had one of his worst seasons (9-10 3.69 ERA). But Cashman proved last year that he is willing to take a risk on a proven veteran (see Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon). The Garcia gamble proved to be a huge signing for the 2011 Yankees.
Other possibilities: Edwin Jackson, Erik Bedard (I would highly advise against this), Jason Marquis.
Wish No. 2: Somebody please take AJ Burnett from the Yankees
Where to begin with Mr. Burnett? After the 2008 season when the Yankees signed then free agents, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and Burnett, I was fine with all but one signing. It's no surprise that I was apprehensive about the Burnett signing. Through his first three years as a Yankee, Burnett is 34-35 with a 4.70 ERA, the highest of all three Major League teams he's been on. Last season, Burnett was 11-11 with a 5.11 ERA. He also received 11 no decisions. He did not win a game in the entire month of July and it took an in game adjustment of his mechanical motion by pitching coach Larry Rothschild for Burnett to start winning games once again.
However, One thing that I do admire about Burnett is his accountability. He will be the first one to take responsibility for his poor performances day in and day out. But, at some point, enough is enough. Unfortunately, I believe the Yankees are stuck with Burnett. He's signed through the end of the 2013 season and is still owed $16.5 million over each of the next two seasons. Who is going to want to be responsible for a 34 year old that is capable of self imploding on the mound at any point?
Wish No. 3: Find the fountain of youth
This is more of a silly request than anything. Let's face it, the Yankees are an old team. Derek Jeter will be 38 in June, Alex Rodriguez will be 37 in July. Believe it or not, Robinson Cano will be 30 in October and Teixeira will be 32 in April. The youngest starter in the rotation will be Phil Hughes, who turns 26 in June, Sabathia is the next youngest at 32. What we learned last year is these players can no longer bounce back from injuries like they used to when they were younger, (see Alex Rodriguez knee injury, and Derek Jeter quad injury). The average age of the outfielders is 29.6. The youngest position by age will be at catcher. Russell Martin is 28 and if Jesus Montero can make the team, he'll be the youngest player on the team at the age of 21.
Wish No. 4: Bring home Championship No. 28 to the Bronx
This is the goal every season, no matter how unrealistic it may be. As we learned the past few seasons, Cashman will do basically anything except trade high end prospects for a short term rental, to guarantee winning the World Series. I expect to see more or less of the same this season. I hope for Granderson's sake that the team does indeed win. After the Yankees acquired Granderson two years ago, he changed his number because manager Joe Girardi chose to wear No. 28 symbolizing the team's goal for the season. While Granderson had a spectacular 2011 season, I'm sure he'd like to be reacquainted with his familiar 28. No player is currently assigned to 29.
That's it for now. Check in soon for another preview! Happy Holidays!