A First Look at The Hot Stove Season Ahead for The New York Yankees

Beloved Yankee Jorge Posada has likely played his last game in pinstripes. They simply can’t afford to block the DH slot with him and his defense has regressed beyond the point where he can play catcher. Sadly, they’ll have to let the great Yankee walk. As hard to swallow as that might be (made a bit easier by a lousy season), it’s objectively the the right call for the Yankees. Not as sad, Demaso Marte, the lefty who played a large role in the 2009 World Series run, is on the way out and a more effective lefty is likely (hopefully) on the way in. Boone Logan, had almost identical BBA and OBPA vs lefties and righties in 2011, and the Yanks could use a true lefty out of the bullpen like Mike Gonzalez (.214 BAA vs lefties compared to Boone Logan’s .260 BAA vs. lefties).

All the buzz I’ve heard makes me think CC Sabathia may opt out of his contract and look for more years than the four years he has remaining. Four more years take him until he’s 35 years old. Are you ready to pay him top dollar until the hefty pitcher is 37? I don’t know how good I feel about that.

The rotation still has question marks and if CC leaves it could get ugly. Sure, Cashman could hit another home run with genius signings in 2012 like Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon of last year (Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland come to mind), but at some point it’s going to come down to Phillip Hughes stepping up, Nova building on a strong campaign, and another youngster like Dellin Betances making a name for himself.

The Phillies hold an option on Roy Oswalt, and based on the strength of their rotation and Oswalt’s mounting injuries I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think they could pass on the option. Roy would look damn good in pinstripes, although he would have a little mending to with Alex Rodriguez who he bashed pretty hard when A-Rod came clean about not playing clean. That would certainly make for an interesting story.

Speaking of A-Rod, is he going to be able to stay healthy for a full season and hit 30 home runs? I’m not so sure the Yankees can handle another down year from A-Rod. I don’t see Curtis Granderson being quite as exceptional next year, especially with his late season swoon (I use that word lightly), and they’ll really need a strong performance from their clean up hitter. They’ll likely DH him and use Nunez at 3B on occassion.

Russell Martin may be back, meaning Jesus Montero will probably DH the majority of the time, but I really hope he gets some time behind the plate so he can be ready to take the position over full time when Martin leaves.

Nick Swisher is credited for changing the stodgy culture of the team for the better when he was first brought in, and for intagible reasons you really hate to see him leave, but it’s hard to justify paying a .260 hitter with slightly above average power (23 HR) $10.5 million. That said, I think the Yankees will either pay up and take the option or work something out to keep him.  There aren’t a ton of better outfielders on the market. Rutgers product, David DeJesus, will be on the market and the Yanks have expressed interest in him in the past. Josh Willingham, Grady Sizemore, Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay, Jason Kubel, and Michael Cuddyer are also hitting the market. The soft market may be enough to justify bringing Swisher back for one more year.

Rafael Soriano has an opt-out clause, but he is being over-paid so vastly he’d be foolish to opt out. All that said, here’s the bottom line for New York.

Key Offseason Points

  • Will CC Sabathia opt out? If he does, how many years are we willing to give him? Do we exceed 5 years for the 31 year old? I vote no. (See Alex Rodriguez)
  • Who plays the Bartolo Colon role in 2012? Can Colon and Garcia do it again? Does someone like Jon Garland come in or do we rely on youngsters Nova, Hughes, and Betances for a full year?
  • Who will the Yankees bring in to fill the role Pedro Feliciano was supposed to fill as the lefty specialist out of the bullpen?
  • Does Nick Swisher return, or do the Yankees bring in a cheaper free agent like Cuddyer/DeJesus/Kubel to fill the short term void.
  • Is Montero or Romine ready for a full season behind the plate? If so, do we need to bring back Martin? If not, we better bring back Martin!

For further analysis, here’s a great breakdown of the Yankees offseason I found.

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