With apologies to Donald Rumsfeld for the headline…
Let’s assume for a minute something rather unlikely: The Yankees will make no trades this year prior to the deadline. Therefore, the team as it is now is the team we will have after the season ends whether that be in September or October.
As the Yankees stand now, the 2008 edition will look vastly different from the one on the field come Opening Day 2009. Of the high-price free agents hitting the market this winter, the Yanks have their fare share of them. Kyle Farnsworth, Mike Mussina, Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte and LaTroy Hawkins (if he makes it that long) will all be off the books.
But besides the money, the Yankees will have roster spots to fill. The losses of Abreu and Giambi will create big holes in the middle of the lineup. The pending free agencies of Moose and Pettitte would leave the Yanks without two pitching stalwarts, and even Kyle Farnsworth has turned himself into a useful part this year.
Tonight, as we suffer through yet another evening with no Yankee game, let’s turn our thoughts to 2009. What should the Yankees do?
They could — and probably will — work out a reduced-cost extension with Jason Giambi. They owe him $5 million if they don’t pick up his $22 million option next year. But Mark Teixeira’s impending free agency looms large over any discussion of first base. And somehow the Yanks will have to fill Bobby Abreu’s outfield spot. Austin Jackson isn’t ready yet.
Andy Pettitte will come back if he wants to come back, and I have to believe that he’ll want to be there to open the new Yankee Stadium after his long tenure in pinstripes. But what about Mussina? A few months’ shy of 40, he’s pitching his way toward a multi-year deal if he wants it. Should the Yanks — with young pitching galore — wave good bye to Mussina? Or should they subscribe to the philosophy that one can never have too much pitching?
And then there are the free agents. CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets are both hitting the market at the same time. The lefty — healthier, better — will want Johan Santana money while Sheets is an injury risk but won’t expect a six- or seven-year deal. A.J. Burnett is also an intriguing name.
So have some fun with this, and try to be realistic. Who do you want to see in the Bronx next year? What moves should the Yanks make? Who should they pursue in free agency and which of their own players should they eschew signing to new deals? And just what do you do with the enigma that is Kyle Farnsworth?