This isn’t too much of a surprise, but as word gets out about the Yanks’ off-season plans, the team is going to focus first on Andy Pettitte. According to a Mark Feinsand report, “getting Andy Pettitte back in the fold” is “the team’s first order of business” this winter. After securing Pettitte’s services, the Yanks will turn their attention to Johnny Damon and the left field vacancy. Hideki Matsui, meanwhile, seems to be the odd free agent out.
As far as strategies go, this is a sound one. If Damon heads elsewhere, he won’t sign until after Jason Bay and Matt Holliday have their deals. The Yanks have some calendar leeway in that regard. By focusing on Pettitte first, the team will know what pitcher cards they hold heading into 2010. If Andy opts to go home, the Bombers brass can turn its attention to John Lackey, Roy Halladay or a plethora of other pitchers. If Andy sticks around the Bronx for another season, the team doesn’t have to worry about securing a mid-rotation starter in a market low on good pitching.
Where I disagree with this approach though is in the hunt for a designated hitter. Numerous comments by team officials over the last few days suggest that Joe Girardi will use a rotating DH to rest his regulars. Thus, a utility player will have to be in the lineup everyday. Unless the Yanks sign a versatile Mark DeRosa-type who can also hit, their offensive production, as I explored last month, will suffer. Still the winter is young, and there are still many, many moves to make.