Oct
12

A fork in the road! Which way should we go?

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Everyone has said it, even the man himself: Brian Cashman is going to have the toughest off-season of his career, and easily the most daunting off-season of any other GM in baseball. He has to choose a direction in which to take the New York Yankees. As you’ll soon see, it won’t be an easy decision, and much of it will be out of his hands.

Essentially, there are two paths he could take: keep the veteran core and let the youngsters work their ways into the lineup, or gut the team and start over — or at least to the extent that’s possible. The problems with these paths are clear. He doesn’t have much control over the former. If Steinbrenner gets his way, Torre is gone, which may preclude our veteran troika of Mo, Po, and Pettitte from returning. The logical thing to do then would be to choose the latter path. However, George wants a ring, and that path is not conducive to victory in 2008. If George doesn’t understand this, it would probably cost Cashman his job.

(Official prediction: Cashman convinces George that if he wants to contend for a ring in ’08, he has to bring Torre back. The Boss acquiesces, and we bring back the troika. A-Rod, of course, is a complete wild card in either scenario.)

Let’s take a journey down each path to see what lies ahead. True, we won’t be able to get a vivid image of the landscape, but we can at least formulate an idea of what 2008 will be like. As always, please leave your takes in the comments. This is just a starting point.


Bringing back the vets

Bringing back Joe Torre would make the chances of Mo, Po, and Pettitte staying far greater. That means the Yanks can continue their search for the catcher, closer, and left-handed starter of the future while not having any immediate pressure to produce. Basically, they would have bought themselves two years, at which point we’ll probably see marked decline from these three. This is ideal in that the Yankees continue to contend while also seeking to get younger.

This means picking up Bobby Abreu’s option. Yes, it leaves the Yankees with a logjam at OF/DH, but playing Bobby in right field next year is optimal in this scenario. Any permutation of the outfield with him — Matsui, Melky, Bobby / Damon, Melky, Bobby / Hideki, Damon, Bobby — is better than the outfield of Hideki, Damon, and Melky we’d have without Bobby.

Then again, you all remember how we reacted earlier this year to Bobby’s prolonged slump. Are we in store for another one of those — only longer because he’s a year older? So that’s the first risk of signing the vets: A slumping Bobby Abreu.

Then you have to re-sign Jorge Posada. But for how much? Clearly, we’d love to give him two years, $30 million with a club option for 2010, but that’s doubtful. At minimum he’ll get three years guaranteed, with a strong possibility of a fourth (or at least he’ll demand a fourth). If he’s making $15 mil, he’s going to play — unless he gets hurt. Second risk: an ineffective or injured Jorge.

There’s not much the team can do about Andy Pettitte. He’ll come back if he wants. I’d love to see him in pinstripes under either scenario. I guess we just have to wait and see.

It’s almost the same situation with Mo. They’ll surely make him an offer, and I doubt any team would outbid them for him. So it’s a matter of Mo’s will. Not much you can do, but if he wants to come back you definitely take him.

Altogether, the risk is a complete breakdown of the offense. A-Rod might not be back. We have three outfielders going on 35. Derek Jeter will be 34. Jorge will be thirty-freakin-seven. Giambi will be 37. This will not be a 1,000-run offense.

What about the rotation? You’d have a 36-year-old Pettitte, a 28-year-old Wang, a 39-year-old Mussina, and then Hughes and IPK (I’m beginning to think the Yanks will keep Joba in the pen — and that makes me unhappy). You know we’re not getting a full, effective year from Moose. You figure Pettitte will hold up, but he’ll be 36; you never know at that age.

So there’s that. It poses a large risk, but if it works out, it’s a solid team. However, the more I think about it, the less I want to travel this road. It seems doomed to repeat the past. And if it doesn’t work out next year, we’re stuck with the same players (minus Giambi and Moose), who (duh) will all be another year older. Yeah, maybe you bring in Santana then, but maybe you don’t.

To put it differently, this will be the Yankees continuing to spend, spend, spend on marquee names. I’m not going to say that this strategy won’t work just because it hasn’t since the Yanks really started dropping dollars on free agents (Moose in 2001, Giambi in 2002), because they should have won it in 2003. However, I don’t think it’s the best strategy. You set the bar high with those marquee names, and there are no guarantees in baseball. So when you fall short, it hurts extra bad.

Gut the team

Disclaimer: This is far too radical for the Yankees to ever actually do. It completely shakes up the team, and would cause a frenzy in the mainstream media. I’ve thought about this a lot, and while it’s not necessarily our best option — well, it just might be. It’s certainly a work in progress. Like with the Joe Torre decision, people can offer alternate viewpoints that make sense to me. Thus, I would alter the grand scheme. But this is my thought process right now.

So goodbye Jorge, goodbye Bobby, goodbye Torre. We’ll deal with filling your slots in just a second. If Pettitte still wants to come back, I’d welcome him. You can always benefit from having a guy like that on your staff. Plus, he’s lefty and he’s a good use of the Yankees’ vast resources. Same goes with Mo. If he wants to come back at two-years, $22 mil, he can pitch the ninth inning. If not, have fun pitching in Chicago or Detroit.

Let’s start with the coaching staff. For manager, I’d choose former Columbus Clippers manager Trey Hillman. He’s not a well-known name (I admit to not having known of him until recently), but his philosophies seem conducive to coaching a young team. You can read his take on baseball, philosophy, and life in this ESPN article.

Dave Eiland would take over as pitching coach. He’s familiar with the young guys, as he’s been the pitching coach for AA Trenton and AAA Scranton. I really don’t have anything against Guidry, but if we’re shaking this thing up, I’d rather just install Eiland.

Hitting coach can remain Kevin Long. The players seemed to like working with him, which I suppose is a strong indication. That, and I can’t think of any good reason to let him go — or any good replacement for him.

As far as who sits next to Hillman on the bench, I’m open to suggestions. However, I read somewhere the suggestion that they get an old ex-manager for the job, a la Don Zimmer. We already have one of them on staff in Larry Bowa, but it’s doubtful he wants to take on that role; he’s strongly expressed his allegiances to Torre in the past. Can anyone else think of someone appropriate?

At catcher, we know there’s no way to replace Jorge. Even if he regresses to his career averages we’re not going to find a catcher who will hit that well. So what do you do in that situation? You could scour the free agent market and hope Mike Barrett rebounds…naaaah. Might as well go with a kid. P.J. Pilittere isn’t getting any younger. Jose Molina said that he’d like to sign with the Yanks. Let ‘em split time.

Shelley Duncan needs to get more at bats next year no matter how the Yankees construct the team. I’m not saying the kid’s going to hit 30 home runs, but he’s going to produce above average against lefties. So put him in a platoon at first. The other half? Juan Miranda. That is, unless you think Eric Duncan can do it. You can stop laughing now — it wasn’t that funny.

Up the middle we’d be the same. Yeah, you’d like to shift Jeter somewhere (preferably to second, Robbie to third, with the Former Attorney General at short), but it’s not happening. Theoretically, a new manager could make him move, but I doubt a guy like Hillman would come in and do that, even if he knows Jeter is a liability at short.

Third is a tough spot. You’d like to do better than Wilson Betemit, but you don’t want to be making hasty moves with farmhands. In other words, it would have to be the right move. Otherwise, you stick with Betemit and see what he can give you with consistent playing time.

The outfield seems set, as the Yanks would still have Damon, Matsui, and Melky under contract. However, it would be nice to dish one of Damon and Matsui. Personally, I’d rather keep Damon, though it would be easier to keep Matsui, since Damon’s no trade clause isn’t full, while Hideki’s is. Who to slot into right field I’m not sure. So maybe you keep both, just because it won’t hurt (since there is no one better).

To the pitching staff. Clearly, you want Joba, Hughes, and IPK heading the staff. You’d figure Wang would be in there, but hear me out. He will be 28 next year and in the prime of his career. He’ll likely make the league minimum again next year (he only has 2.159 years of service time, so he probably won’t be a Super Two), and then will have three years of arbitration before free agency. This makes him very attractive to small-market teams, since he’ll be available at a below-market price through most of his prime. I’m not saying you have to trade him. I’m just saying the Yanks would do well to shop him around and see what they can get. Hey, Ned Colletti is supposedly looking to dish Matt Kemp. Now, the source is Bill Plaschke, and he’s likely full of shit. But a man can dream, right?

(You’d pull the trigger on a Wang for Kemp trade, right? Right?)

So let’s recap for a second. We have Pilittere/Molina catcher, Shelley/Miranda at first, Cano at second, Jeter at short, Betemit at third, Hideki in left, Damon in center, Melky in right, Giambi at DH. Not optimal in any sense, but you could surely do a lot worse, especially in a “rebuilding” year.

In the rotation, you’d have Joba, Hughes, IPK, Wang, and Mussina (though maybe he’d waive his NTC, too), and a number of fringe guys to take spot starts. It’s doubtful that you’ll get 200 innings out of Joba, Hughes, or Mussina, so having another two guys ready to go in the minors is always nice. Guys like Alan Horne, Jeff Marquez, Steven White, Tyler Clippard, and even Chase Wright and (::sigh::) Kei Igawa to take a couple of starts here and there. Unlike this year, I’m more willing to give them a spot start next year, when there aren’t the expectations of a division title.

The bullpen is a bit shakier of a monster; it should basically be an open audition year, and should be stocked with youngsters and maybe a couple of vets. Ohlendorf, Ramirez, Whelan, Britton, Beam (remember him?), Henn, Rasner, the ever-present Karstens, Scott Patterson, Veras, Charlie Manning, Ben Kozlowski, Steven Jackson, and hey, maybe even Eric Wordekemper and David Robertson. Eventually, once they recover and rehab, Humberto Sanchez, J.B. Cox, and Marc Melancon can be in the mix. Those are the guys you really want to get a look at.

The overriding theme: Forget about 2008. It’s an audition. It’s a way to get the young guys big league experience. This way, you can evaluate them and make a better determination of what they can give you in the long run. Then the team is set up well for another run to glory in 2009.

Swapping players

If you keep Torre and the vets, I’m not sure the Yanks would be in the trade market that heavily. You have to keep the vets around, since your goal is to win in 2008. But you don’t want to salvage the farm, since you know the clock would be ticking quickly on the current team. Yeah, “B” prospects would be available, but they usually don’t fetch much. Maybe bench fillers, but that’s the extent of it. So we’ll leave it alone under that scenario.

Trading might be heavy if the Yanks were to enter “gut the team” mode. Thing is, we have no idea who would be available, both for us to trade away and for other teams to trade to us. I’ll construct a quick list of players I’d trade from the Yanks. Who we’d get in return is a complete crapshoot. You’d figure they’d be looking for a third baseman — maybe Andy LaRoche from the Dodgers or someone along those lines.

(Seriously, if Ned Colletti is looking to add veteran pieces, we can supply those. We’ll take his young talent for vets any day.)

Players I’d trade under the right circumstances:
Chien-Ming Wang — Probably has the most trade value
Mike Mussina — 10-5 guy, so he’d have to consent, and he wouldn’t fetch much
Hideki Matsui or Johnny Damon — Shedding one of those contracts would be nice, though we’d likely have to pick up some of the tab
Melky Cabrera — Yeah, I know he’s young and would fit under this scenario. But there were rumors of a Melky for Noah Lowry swap. We could do a lot worse.
Jason Giambi — Fat chance
Kyle Farnsworth — No, seriously, you can have him

And then you listen to all offers for the “B” guys, but you don’t go shopping them around.

Payroll

It’s tough to gauge the Yankees’ budget. Some think it’s unlimited, but there has to be a line somewhere. Plus, not that we should care what other people think, but getting the payroll down to the $140 million level will silence the “they buy their team” crowd. So what would the payroll look like under the gutted team scenario?

(in millions, duh)
Giambi: $21
Jeter: $20
Matsui: $13
Damon: $13
Mussina: $11
Pavano: $13
Farnsworth: $5.5
Cano: $3 (reasonable arbitration number)
Betemit: $2 (arbitration)
Molina: $1.5 (seems reasonable)

Everyone else makes $500,000 or under. So that puts the knowns and the relatively-knowns at $103 million. That’s 9 guys on the active roster. Personally, I’d fill the rest with minimum-making guys. Even at half a million a pop, that’s $8 million. Are you kidding me? A $112 million payroll?

That’s not even the best part. You’re axing Giambi, Mussina, Pavano, and Farnsworth after next year. That frees up an additional $50.5 million! Yeah, some guys will get raises, but not $50.5 million worth.

What, you ask, does a lower payroll help us do? Well, it helps keep down the price of players in general. All these free agents keep comparing themselves to guys on the Yankees, who have monster deals. Without those deals, there’s less of a comparison.

But most of all, it keep the focus on in-house players, with free agents being brought in on an as-needed basis. You know, kinda like we did in the late 90s.

No, this plan is not perfect. But there is no perfect plan in baseball. There are far too many unknowns to plan far into the future. However, if we take a step back and asses the situation from afar, we can see that the Yankees aren’t on the best path right now. If we re-sign all the vets and bring back Torre, we’re just falling victim to the same vices that have tortured us for the past four years.

There is no better year to execute this plan than now. The Yankees are at an impasse. On one end lies the old guard. On the other, a new team model. Both have their merits. With the old guard, we stand a better chance of winning in 2008. However, there are a number of risks involved. So many things can go wrong during the season, and even if they make the playoffs there are no guarantees. The last four years have taught us that.

The risk is minimized under the “gut the team” scenario, since there are few expectations to go along with it. Yes, we’re risking not making the playoffs in the final year of old Yankee Stadium, and I understand that this would upset many fans. But we can’t let sentimental attachments stand in the way of progress. Wouldn’t you rather sacrifice one year — just one — in order to get the team back in order and ready to contend in the first year of the new Stadium? I sure would.

Writing this has turned around my opinion on the Torre situation — sort of. I truly believe that the latter option of gutting the team is the best for the long-term. But you can’t half-ass it. Yeah, you can have flexibility in the plan. For instance, bringing Pettitte back at one year, $16 million presents little risk because it’s a one-year deal. Same with Bobby. That would be $32 million off the payroll for ’09, a year when we’ll already see $50 million come off the books. But signing Mo and Po to long-term deals is far more hazardous, especially if you’re keeping Joe as manager. They’re his guys, and they’ll play their normal roles until they physically can’t anymore. And honestly, I’m not prepared to sit through that. I don’t want to see a broken down Jorge behind the plate for 130 games when he’s 40 years old. I don’t want to see Mo at 40 failing to shut down big games. I’m not saying that’s how it will play out; I’m saying it’s a risk we incur by bringing everyone back.

As I said at the beginning, this is such a radical idea that I can’t see the Yankees doing it. However, think about this, too. Brian Cashman’s contract is up after next year. People will opine that Cashman wouldn’t gut the team because to do so would risk his job. But if his contract is up, what is he risking? He could be ready to leave the Yanks, and allow this to be his calling card. “I gutted the Yanks, and two years later, it paid off.” He’s got more than enough money to get by for a year of unemployment. Why not hand the reigns to Damon Oppenheimer and let him continue the magic? If the Yankees do succeed after that, he could probably get a job GMing anywhere.

To me, it makes too much sense. With the Yankees resources, both player- and money-wise, they could rebuild in just one year. Hey, after 2008 both Johan Santana and C.C. Sabathia are free agents. Add one of them to the rotation, and, uh, you’re pretty set, I would think. Or is that just continuing down the path I’m currently admonishing? Surely you have to bring in some free agents, and it would seem that young, power lefties would be idea.

So let’s open the floor. What do you like about this, and where do you think I’m insane?

Categories : Hot Stove League

49 Comments»

  1. mg says:

    I tend to agree with your assessment. I particularly like Trey Hillman as the manager choice. He strikes me as a perfect fit for a young team in transition. Not only that but he could well be the right guy to continue to lead after the transition period.

    I agree that it’s unlikely that the brain trust in Tampa would allow this, but perhaps they’d realize the risks are great no matter what they do but the upside of rebuilding are greater than those of keeping the status quo. At the end of the day, it would come down to how many years we’re talking about locking up Mo and Po for. I think in this case the player decisions probably will drive the managerial decision. It’s not how it should be in an ideal world but I think it’s the right way to do things in this limited case.

  2. Jersey says:

    Great post Joe.

    I definitely favor the “vets” approach, simply because the changes that need to happen – meaning, building from within – are already underway. Gutting the team might force them to get to where they need to go, in terms of organizational strategy/sustainability, but they’re going to get there anyway, either way.

    Signing the vets doesn’t mean you’re necessarily maintaining the old way – it means that you’re bridging the gap between the present-day and 2009-2010 when hopefully there will be more prospects, and they’ll have made some better free agent signings. Re-signing Po and Mo, and bringing back Bobby for a year, are NOT the same thing as signing Giambi and Moose for 6 years/20 mil per or whatever.

    Simply put, I’d rather see a team that’s more competitive than not, but only if it doesn’t sacrifice the organization’s future and direction. I don’t think bringing back the vets sacrifices anything – it simply extends the timeline of the transition to a better model. I’m okay with that because a) I want to see Po and Mo retire as Yankees, and b) I don’t see what we ultimately gain by forcing an awful catcher combo, or forcing an everyday outfield of Hideki, Melky and Damon.

    In other words, patience, padawan. They’ll get there.

  3. Mike A. says:

    RE: The bullpen
    I love the way Kevin Towers builds his bullpens. He knows that relievers are so figgin’ volatile, that he might as well throw a bunch of no-names out there that have good stuff and throw strikes, and hope they succeed. If they don’t, just plug another one in. That’s how he landed Linebrink, Meredith, the unbelievable dominant Heath Bell, etc. That’ll never fly in Yankeeland though.

    RE: Cashman gutting the team then leaving
    One thing about Cash that I love is that he’s extremely loyal; he’ll always do what he feels is in the best interest of the team. He could have traded Phil Hughes for Mark Kotsay in 2005 when he didn’t have a contract for the next year, but he didn’t. He could have traded Robbie Cano & CM Wang for Jose Vidro in 2004, but he didn’t. If it’s good for the Yanks, he’ll do it, regardless if he’ll be around to see the payoff. Have to love that quality about him.

    RE: PJ Pilittere as catcher
    I love the idea. PJ’s not going to wow you with the bat, but he does absolute wonders with pitching staffs. Sure Trenton had all those great arms last year, but it’s no accident that they all had such great years with PJ behind the dish. Did Tampa’s staff in 2006. Heck, he even managed to turn Ricky Romero and Jason Windsor into top draft prospects when he was their catcher at Fullerton. That’s a minor miracle.

    • Mike A. says:

      Just to clarify, I think Cash would be willing to gut the team and leave, but only if he thought it was best for the team. I don;t think he’d do it just for the sake of change or anything like that.

  4. Dave says:

    Posada’s to a 3 or 4 year contract is not as bad as it seems. One more year of Giambi and then Posada can slide into the DH role, gradually catching less each year.

    Also, Maybe Wang can be the center piece, along with Horn and maybe Cabrera, to get Santana, as long as you could work out a contract with him. The twins are going to loose Tori Hunter. I wouldn’t mind giving Gardner a chance in Center.

    As to Joba’s status. I would say it has to depend on who else is around. If Rivera leaves, Joba may be the only guy that could step in. But if Pettite leaves also, you have to wonder if Chamberlain has to be a starter (unless Horne be ready to step in? White?)

    • Count Zero says:

      I hear that except that, assuming he gets 3 (or 4) x$15 million, is he a $15 million DH? He would have to post near-Ortiz-like numbers to earn that as a DH…at age 39. Seems unlikely…

  5. Count Zero says:

    Awesome writeup! You and I are totally on the same page on this.

    Only things I see otherwise are:

    1) I would pick up Bobby’s option in a rebuild scenario. It’s only one year so no real damage done. I would then look to deal either Matsui or JD, preferably Matsui just as you said.

    2) I would sign Alex to an extension with all that leftover money (if possible). A-Rod has shown a fondness for playing “Big Bro” to Melky and Cano, and I think he would relish the role in an all-kid clubhouse. And I think he is the closest thing to a “sure thing” at age 39 you are ever going to see.

    I actually think the biggest problem facing us next year is that none of the kids in the rotation can give us big innings. (Note that this is true under either scenario.) Sorry I don’t have time to look it up right now, but I’m thinking that according to the 30 inning increase rule, IPK caps at around 190, Phil at 150-160, and Joba at 150? So, Wang gives you 200, but that’s it. Andy can’t go 200 anymore.

    Which means our bullpen will be stretched, and that’s why I love your bullpen scenario.

    I hire you as GM of the Yankees! ;-)

  6. Thomas says:

    I think if you gut the team, it will be a few years, not one, where the team will not make the playoffs. I think you are kidding yourself if you think it will be for only one year. The Red Sox and Bluejays will continue to spend and I can see a 4-5 years of being out of the post season.

    • Mike A. says:

      Don’t forget about them D-Rays. They’re only a year or so away from becoming an absolute juggernaut.

    • Joseph P. says:

      Hey, in 2009 you might have Joba, Phil, and IPK each with a full year under their belts, plus possibly Wang. That’s a rotation that can carry you — especially if they manage to retain A-Rod (which would clearly throw off my payroll projections).

  7. The Scout says:

    As an intellectual exercise, the post is interesting. As a real plan for the future, near- or long-term, it is completely unrealistic. It is a a design for rebuilding in a small market, not New York, not with the Yankees revenue stream.

    The Yankees today are NOT the Yankees of 1965, aging and with little talent in the pipeline. The core of the team is in its prime — yes, its late prime, but prime nonetheless. The minor league talent is the best it’s been in a generation. With a new stadium on the horizon, management wants to be very competitive in 2008 and certainly when the new stadium opens in 2009.

    The Yankees can afford to pay players such as Rivera and Posada for the less productive seasons they will supply in years three/four of their next contract. That is what the team is doing with Giambi and Mussina now, and perhaps with Matsui and Damon. With no plausible replacements on hand at catcher or closer, the Yankees will ante up. But the transition to youth will still continue. Just as Giambi’s playing time was drastically reduced this year when his performance fell off, so will others’ as younger players demonstrate they are ready to step into the job.

    What you will see with this team is a gradual shift, not a firesale. Next April Kennedy and Hughes should be in the starting rotation; by mid-season, another younger pitcher will likely dislodge Mussina. (I am assuming that, absent some deal to improve the set-up staff in the bullpen, Chamberlain will remain there next year.) How fast other positions shift will depend on the rate at which prospects develop and advance to the high minors. Jeter will eventually move off shortstop, as Ripkin did — not soon enough for us, but eventually.

    If A-Rod leaves (and he, too, will get a contract that will pay him beyonf his productive years), the Yankees will focus on finding a serviceable third baseman without weakening the pitching staff.

    Of course, if Cashman really wants to shake things up, he might ust offer Wang to the Twins for Santana…

    • Count Zero says:

      He would have to offer more than Wang. Throw another young pitcher (like Horne) on there and you might actually have the makings of a deal.

      And like Joseph P., the thought of moving Joba to the pen permanently makes me ill. But yes, I do agree it’s likely going to happen.

      The more I think about it all, the more I think Pfistyunc is right about getting rid of Cashman. And the more I am convinced this team will not win a Championship anytime in the near future.

    • Mike R. says:

      I have mentioned this before, but a Wang for Santana trade makes no sense because Wang’s numbers on turf are not good. Ground ball, pitch to contact pitchers and domes usually do not mix.

      Wang splits:

      Grass = 39-15 3.58 ERA 1.28 WHIP .263 AVG A
      Turf = 7-3 4.90 ERA 1.38 WHIP .302 AVG A

  8. Kyle says:

    I think Melky and Wang plus maybe a couple minor guys would get us Santana if we really wanted him

  9. Ryne says:

    Wang will almost certainly qualify as a super-two. 2.159 is notation for 2 years 159 days, not an decimal. The cutoff is the top 17% of players between 2.000 and 2.171 years of service time and at least 86 days on the roster in the past year, usually between 2.130 and 2.135 (see links). Otherwise, nice work!

    rules: http://mlbplayers.mlb.com/pa/i.....rbitration
    2.130 estimate: http://baseballanalysts.com/ar....._and_1.php

  10. steve (different one) says:

    the yankees have the pitching prospects, but they don’t have the position players to start over.

    i think the blueprint is simple and obvious:

    pick up abreu’s option, sign a-rod, sign po, sign mo, retain pettitte. re-sign Molina.

    i would make Moose the sunday starter next year and bring all three kids into the rotation, with Moose picking those inning to keep Joba’s innings down and taking some slack off Phil and Ian.

    i would look for and overpay for a free agent reliever. Cordero? then i’d try to piece the rest of the pen together from within.

    the only tweak would be maybe letting Abreu go for draft picks and looking at Fukudome. maybe look to trade Matsui or Damon. let Duncan and Betemit platoon at 1B.

    basically last year’s roster with Hughes, Joba, and Kennedy in the rotation is a good team.

  11. Keith says:

    I posed that question to Jim Callis yesterday in an ESPN chat; Wang, Horne, and Austin Jackson for Johan, and he didnt seem like it’d be enough to get it done.

    I, for one, think that if you let go of Torre, Cashman needs to take the hit with him. I agree that Oppenheimer could easily take over the reigns as GM, and while I dont know a lot about Trey Hillman, the more I find out about him, the more I think he fits going forward.

    I favor more of the gut plan than the Vet plan. While it would pain me to see Jorge and Mo in different uniforms, there is no way I give either of them more than 2 years on a contract.

    • steve (different one) says:

      why should cashman take the hit? he’s doing an excellent job.

      the yankees lost mostly b/c Wang sucked, and partly b/c Jeter, Posada, Matsui, and A-Rod weren’t great.

      as the GM, are you saying he did a bad job building a roster with Chien Ming Wang, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez?

      makes no sense.

      Cashman is attempting to do the hardest job in baseball: re-build, get younger, and lower payroll without missing the playoffs.

      he did an excellent job of that this season.

      Randy Johnson – made 10 starts
      Jaret Wright – missed almost the whole season
      Sheffield – did NOTHING after August

      4 games against a tough Cleveland team notwithstanding, the Yankees were a GOOD team this year. their rotation was their biggest weakness in the playoffs and it is also the area where the replacements are most available and ready to go.

      just b/c they lost a 5 game series doesn’t mean they need to blow up and start over.

      94 wins and a playoff berth is a BIG success for most teams.

    • The Scout says:

      Callis is certainly entitled to his opinion, but what matters is whether the Twins get a better offer. Only time will tell whether the Yankees want to offer Wang and the Twins want him. One thing is certain: if A-Rod and some of the others depart, the Yankees will have money to spend on Santana. (BTW, the deal makes sense only if the Twins grant the Yankees an extension to negotiate a long-term deal with Santana.)

  12. steve (different one) says:

    To me, it makes too much sense. With the Yankees resources, both player- and money-wise, they could rebuild in just one year. Hey, after 2008 both Johan Santana and C.C. Sabathia are free agents. Add one of them to the rotation, and, uh, you’re pretty set, I would think.

    and what happens if they simply decide to sign elsewhere? or someone trades for Santana and locks him up? or the Indians re-sign Sabathia?

    you can’t pin all your hopes on free agents that may never hit the market.

    However, the more I think about it, the less I want to travel this road. It seems doomed to repeat the past.

    you know, just because the Yankees lost in the playoffs, doesn’t mean this team wasn’t really good.

    also, do the Yankees really want a 3rd place team in their last year in Yankee stadium?

    • Mike A. says:

      I mentioned that to Joe earlier. The new stadium really throws a wrench into everything; would the higher-ups be willing to field a young, not very star-laden team in the last year of the current digs? What about opening the new place with say, Betemit at third and Gardner in the outfield? Can’t see that happening.

    • Joseph P. says:

      We’ve lost in the first round the past 3 years. I’m in the camp that would be fine with missing the playoffs one goddamn year in order to regroup.

      • steve (different one) says:

        i would be too.

        but i don’t see how punting on 2008 makes the team stronger in 2009 based on any of your ideas.

        with your rebuilding plan, all you are going to wind up with is a ton of money to spend and nothing to spend it on.

        ok, you want to trade Wang for a good, young player. fine. besides that, none of those other guys on your list are very tradeable.

        it seems like your entire plan is to cut enough payroll to land Sabathia or Santana in 2009. the Yankees will be able to do that anyway. Giambi, Pavano, Pettitte, and Moose. there’s $60M.

        you are gutting the team simply for the sake of gutting it. i haven’t seen any plan to make it better.

  13. John says:

    You can throw the kids into the rotation, but you can’t replace Arod and Jorge with WB and Jose. That would make the lineup
    Damon
    Jeter
    Giambi
    Matsui
    Duncan
    Cano
    Melky
    Betemit
    Molina

    Lefty heavy and unlikely to score 800 runs. If you take this approach you Have to trade Wang for either a catcher or a thirdbaseman. Matt Kemp isn’t the answer. Russel Martin maybe…
    Cashman won’t field a team that can’t even contend in his contract year, even if it is in the team’s greater good.

    • steve (different one) says:

      exactly. this lineup you list is the lineup of a third place team.

      younger does not always mean better. i would take Posada at 37, 38, and 39 over Jose Molina and whomever else they find in 2009 and 2010.

      maybe Cervelli is the answer, but that involves at least 2 more years of a stopgap.

      and if Posada filling the DH spot in 2010 is the price for not punting in 2008-2009, that’s fine with me.

  14. Mike A. says:

    Oh Matt Kemp is an answer. I betcha he’s an All-Star next year and a $100M contract guy in 5 years. He’s scary, scary good.

  15. Mike R. says:

    If Santana and Sabathia both reach free agency next year, why go after one of them? Why not sign both of them to equal contracts. It’ll tie up about $40 million, but it minimizes the risk. If We did trade Wang, this would be the route to take. A 2009 staff of Santana, Sabathia, Hughes, Chamberlain and Kennedy would be very impressive. If we’re willing to tie up $30 million a year for A-Rod why not toss in ten more for two proven aces.

    As far as the trades go the Melky for Noah Lowry would be an awful trade. How many NL West pitchers have to fail in the AL East for people to get it? I would throw veterans and money at the Dodgers for Kemp. I am against trading Wang. I have become a big fan of his style and demeanor, but I wouldn’t be upset if we sent him to LA with Damon and cash for Kemp. That kid is impressive.

  16. Rich says:

    I commend you for the time it must have taken you to come up with these ideas but I wouldn’t want you anywhere near a team I owned if was a contending one.

    You lost me when you nominate Hillman to lead the team because even though you weren’t familiar with him you read a good article about him. Hillman might be a good choice but not for the reason you offer.

    Are you willing to reimburse the Yankees for lost revenues when they don’t compete next year or the one after that? What happens if/when Sabathia and Santana sign with their current teams?

  17. Joseph P. says:

    I think we all have to remember, too, that the Yanks don’t control the fates of Mo, Po, A-Rod, and Pettitte. If they walk, well, what’re ya gonna do?

  18. Mike R. says:

    How many first round picks would we get if Mo, Posada, A-Rod and Vizcaino all left? The compensation rule has always confused me a bit.

    • Mike A. says:

      They’d get 2 picks for Mo & 2 picks for Posada certainly. I’m not sure if they’d get any for declining Abreu’s option, same with Pettitte declining his.

      • steve (different one) says:

        they would get picks for Abreu. they can still offer him arbitration after declining his option. i believe the Yankees got a pick for Lieber.

        • Joseph P. says:

          They’d only get picks for Abreu if they offered him arbitration. If you’re declining his option, do you really want to offer him that? You can only take a, what, 20% paycut (someone correct me if I’m wrong)? So you risk Bobby accepting.

          • steve (different one) says:

            i think they would take that chance. he is still a good player and if he accepts, he would be an attractive trade target for a team. he has a 1 year contract. if the yankees threw in $2M, he’d probably bring a very nice return.

            he is exactly the type of player you offer arb to, since the worst case is not that bad.

  19. Devon Young says:

    I think it should be more of a concern for the Yankees, to field a playoff team in 2009, despite what anyone thinks of ’08. They want to christen the new place and carry over “the Yankee mystique”. The pitching needs to be younger and anchored around… Hughes, Chamberlin, Pettitte, as starters with Mo as the closer and Santana as the 8th inning set-up man. The offense should get younger, but only in certain areas. Matsui/Damon/Cabrera is a nice outfield for the next 2 years….after all, even if we lose Abreu’s 100+ RBI’s, we should have a pitching staff that can compensate for that loss. Yeah, lose Farnsworth. Posada, Jeter, and Cano are good. First base could become a good platoon spot. Any extra players, should be traded off for less expensive but depthful players who can fill in well. If A-Rod stays, that’s great. If A-Rod goes…I imagine the Yankees could find a way to get a 3rd basemen in trade for Abreu.

    • Count Zero says:

      “Matsui/Damon/Cabrera is a nice outfield for the next 2 years…”

      ICK! If you’re all out rebuilding? Then, I guess it’s tolerable…

      But “nice?” Not if you’re expecting to compete in ’09 like you said. Melky’s OPS+ of 93 is a tough sell in RF. Or are you saying you would put Hideki “I can’t go back on a ball AND I have a weak arm” Matsui in RF? :-)

  20. Dave says:

    Honestly, I don’t see why the two possible paths are really mutally exclusive. I think that Mo and Posada will be offered more than fair deals and then the ball is in their court. Petitte will have to make up his own mind, hopefully he will stay. As to Arod, who knows, if Boston wants to pay him 35 million per year for the next 12 years, then good luck to them. But a 4 year extension for 35 million per year, I think Arod would be crazy to turn it down and I believe the Yanks could live with that.

    If Arod walks, the Yanks must believe Betemit is the answer, or why trade Proctor. Scotty would have be real useful in that extra inning game in Cleveland. If Arod stays, Duncan/Betimit/Philips Platoon at first, with Duncan also DH and playing outfield and Betimit playing the role of Utility man.

    If Posada walks (i think it would be unlikely) bring back Molina and pair him up with Raul Castro, and see how the young guys develop. Posada may want to play for Torre, but if the Yanks make a change, is he going to leave just to spite them. And if Torre goes to another team (rumors are St Louis) would that team be willing to commit big money and time to Posada?

    As for Mariano, alot of teams would be willing to throw money at him, but more than 3 years? Yanks have shown they can carry a few dead contracts, most teams can not risk that. I think he stays, but I am not confident in that. Further, the Yanks should sign as many arms as they can. Overpay Cordero? sure. JC Romano? why not. Together they will not cost no more than Pavano did this year, and they could not possible contribute less. Add in the minor league depth and maybe it will come together. And I would not be so quick to discount Farnworth. This is his walk year, and players have been know to step it up (though I thought the same thing about Pavano last year)

    Also, I wonder whether Mussina comes back. He had nothing left at the end and maybe he will feel it is better to walk away. Or maybe he will agree to go to the Phillies, in the national league he may still be able to produce and I am sure something could be worked out. Wang, Petitte (hopefully), Hughes, Chamberlian, Kennedy with support from Horne, White, Igawa, Marquiz, Clippard, DeSalvo could be fun to watch and be more than enough to get to the playoffs. Look at it like this, If Wang and Pettite can match last years performance, You have to think that Kennedy can be an Upgrade over Mussina, Hughes an upgrade over Clemens, leaving Joba, potentially the best of the bunch, to outperform the collection of 5th starters. It is not a stretch.

  21. Mike R. says:

    Only slightly related to the topic, but the O’s fired Leo Mazzone. I WANT MAZZONE! The Mazzone for Yanks Pitching coach ’08 campaign has officially started.

  22. A. Phil says:

    I totally love this blog but you must be out of your mind. I dont’ think half the things you said will happen. In addition, the NYY will not hire a nobody to manage this team. Its either Torre, Girardi, Mattingly, or Valentine. I still love this blog though, but some of the things you wish for to happen are totally absurd.

  23. Troy says:

    Try this on – a bit radical, no actually very radical

    C – Posada/Molina
    1B – Phillips/some lefty preferabley not Stinky
    2B – Jeter
    SS – Rodriquez
    3B – Crede
    LF – Damon/platoon with RH power hitting e.g. Mench
    CF – Gardner
    RF – Duncan
    DH – Matsui
    Bench – Betemit

    1P – Santana – For Cano, Carbera, Horne & McAllister (signed also)
    2P – Petitte
    3P – Hughes
    4P – Chamberlain
    5P – Kennedy
    BP – Rivera, one or two veterans (not Vizcaino), the rest kids

    Trade – Giambi (more of a giveaway sale), Mussina (sign and trade for Rowand?)

    Let Abreu walk

    A new manager would be helpful in implementing this plan

  24. [...] reading the comments on the fork in the road post, I thought I’d follow up a bit. I enjoyed the discussion, and thought some good ideas came [...]

  25. barry says:

    I would love to see posada back, hes an exception to getting older, he’s aging well. Mo on the other hand seems to already be in a decline, drop him now, hes not worth the payroll, and yea i love mo and it’d be great to have him retire a yankee but overall he hasn’t really helped the team out all that much this year. I remember more bad than good about the ’07 Mo. I’d like to see the yankees get a stud ace like santana, one year of his salary with the chance of him loving new york and wanting more is worth the price which is a penny in a bucket of quarters. I’d love to see Joba be the next closer, I think with his stuff there is less chance of let down with him closing games. But Troy Jeter is twice the fielder Arod is theres no doubt in my mind and everyone on the team right now is both a torre guy and a jeter guy taking jeter out of his position is nonsense. the infield should remain the same with the only exception being at first base. I know this post is a bit of a rant but I’m honestly optimistic about next year with Joe at the steed or not.

  26. [...] reading the comments on the fork in the road post, I thought I’d follow up a bit. I enjoyed the discussion, and thought some good ideas came [...]

  27. Understanding this stuff can be pretty stressful, thanks for writing this post to clear up some confusion.

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