Continuing our day of mailbags…
Cliff Lee stays in Texas. What do the Yankees do to fix their rotation?
I like this question because it seems like everyone takes for granted Cliff Lee’s spot in the 2011 rotation. It’s probably going to happen, but there’s always the chance that he finds another team more appealing. That would leave the Yanks with CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Phil Hughes in the rotation. In that case I’d have to imagine they’d press hard for Andy Pettitte’s return, which leaves one spot to be filled.
The first place to look is the free agent list, since the team’s biggest advantage is its capital. Unfortunately, that idea dies after a quick glance. There isnly another pitcher on that list I’d consider a viable option. Hiroki Kuroda comes the closest, but I’m not sure the Yankees want to sign a 36-year-old who has spent his three-year career in the NL West.
Before turning to internal options I’m sure the Yankees will explore the trade market. Their farm system had a strong year and they might choose to cash in some of those chips for a proven starter. Zack Greinke’s name will top that wish list, though it will cost the Yankees a couple of their top five prospects and probably a few more top 10 guys. Beyond him I don’t see many attractive candidates. Perhaps the Yanks will attempt to trade for a good pitcher who had a poor 2010 — though no name comes immediately to mind.
That leaves us with players already in the system. Joba Chamberlain could make a return to the rotation. Ivan Nova will probably get a shot, too. But after those two I’m not sure who would make a decent candidate. Andrew Brackman, Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos, and Adam Warren all have promise, but all also need more work in the minors. Hector Noesi might be the closest to the majors among the prospects, but he got hit hard in AAA and probably needs more time there. David Phelps could get a shot as well.
The Yankees can survive without Cliff Lee. But as you can see, it won’t be easy.