GM for a day. It is of course the greatest role play another obsessed baseball fan likes to play.
Over at Baseball Prospectus, in an article not buried behind the subscriber wall Jay Jaffe played Yankee GM and tried to put together a team, within reason, that would be an improvement over the recent flawed and overpaid clubs. His results and approach are worth a look.
Jaffe begins with his basic premise before restructuring the club:
Unfortunately, Cashman appears to have settled for Swisher as his first baseman in the hopes of saving his money for Sabathia. For that, and for his arbitration transgressions, he’s been reassigned to the mailroom while I take over.
My regime is taking a different approach. Behind nominal staff ace Wang, the Yanks still have those three healthy young pitchers, along with more pitching prospects on the way, starting with reliever Mark Melancon. Improving the rotation is a priority, but given that the organization has only one prime hitting prospect with experience above A-ball—center fielder Austin Jackson, who’s coming off of a .285/.354/.419 season in Double-A as a 21-year-old—a long-term play to improve the offense is the more pressing concern.
He then launches a six-pronged attack on the current roster. In brief:
- Forget CC Sabathia. The lefty’s lack of interest and monetary demands make him a liability.
- Sign Mark Teixeira. The upside far outweighs the risk.
- Go with an outfield of Johnny Damon in left, Nick Swisher in right and someone else in center with Xavier Nady as a platoon for Swisher.
- Trade Hideki Matsui for Randy Winn and insert Winn into center field. This a temporary stop-gap measure, and with Teixeira in place, it’ll do.
- Sign Derek Lowe and Ben Sheets while allowing Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Al Aceves to battle it out for the fifth, sixth and seventh spots in the rotation.
- Find a DH such as Nomar Garciaparra or Eric Hinske.
In the end, Jaffe ends up with this roster and a payroll of around $189 million:
Whew. Got all that?
I don’t think I like this plan. Without running the numbers, I don’t think Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher can replace the production lost by Jason Giambi, Bobby Abreu and Hideki Matsui. Jaffe’s plan relies on Jorge Posada to put up numbers as he did in 2007 and only features two sure-fire hitters — A-Rod and Tex.
The rotation has some of the same problems it had last year. The team would be relying on two young arm — Chamberlain and whichever pitcher emerges as the fifth starter — as well as Sheets and Lowe, veterans of the NL. The bench is also objectively terrible with no speed and not much pop beyond Nady.
For the money, this seems like another team destined to be overpaid and destined to underperform. But unlike Jaffe, I don’t really have a plan. I think Brian Cashman has his work cut out for him this year. He has a few offensive holes and seemingly no plan to fill them. It doesn’t sound as though the Yanks could land Sabathia and Teixeira, which would be ideal. It also seems like the Yanks may be prioritizing the wrong free agent of the two.
But who knows? Nothing is set in stone. No free agents have signed, and the season is a long way away. Over the next few weeks as things shake down, we’ll have a better idea of how the 2009 Yankees will play. Right now, it’s very much up in the air.