With the recent news that Sabathia will remain in pinstripes for at least the next five seasons, Brian Cashman who also just signed an extension (for three years) can turn his attention to other offseason priorities, but those priorities will continue to revolve around the starting rotation (you like that pun there?).
With Nova, Hughes, and Burnett lined up behind Sabathia there is still a lot of uncertainty. Will Burnett be effective in 2012? Will he even return to the Yankees or will they be able to move him over the offseason? Who fills out the fifth spot–Garcia, Betances, Colon, or someone new? Will Hughes bounce back? Will Nova build on a great rookie campaign? The questions are bountiful. Signing Sabathia isn’t a final solution, it merely avoids total disaster.
CJ Wilson will command the top dollar out of this offseason’s crop of pitchers, but is he the best bet? He posted an ERA under three with 16 wins last year, some very impressive numbers. He’s been great in his two seasons in the starting rotation, but before that he was in the bullpen, never exceeding 73 2/3 IP. There are questions about how the IP increase will impact him moving forward. He’s also 31, despite seeming much younger, and is asking for a $100 million contract. The Yankees are not expected to pony up, which is probably the prudent move.
We’ve also learned that Roy Oswalt, probably the biggest name on the market is also unlikely to play for New York, due to back problems that have progressively gotten worse with age (he’s now 34).
Edwin Jackson will definitely get a look, but after the Yankees experience with a highly talented, inconsistent right-hander with shoddy control (AJ Burnett), I can’t imagine they’d take another similar risk. The bleacher report points out his high ERA in his years pitching in the AL East for the Rays. In the same vein, Yu Darvish, the 25 year old Japanese phenom may skip over the pond and play in the big leagues next season. He’s expected to command at least $100 million including posting fee, but I would be extremely surprised to see the Yankees make another large commitment to a Japanese pitcher after the Kei Igawa failure. Evidently they have scouted Darvish though.
I’d love to see Kuroda don pinstripes. He posted ERAs of 3.76, 3.39, and 3.07 over the last three years (a attractive decline). Unfortunately for New York, it seems he is intent on staying in Los Angeles and is likely an unrealistic target.
That leads us to Mark Buehrle. He just won his third straight gold glove, with just one error in 2011. Since 2001, Buehrle has the most pickoffs in baseball (81)– second on the list is Andy Pettitte (50). He made $14 million last year, so he won’t come cheap, but despite being just 32 years old, he only plans on pitching for two or three more seasons so the Yankees should get a good deal regarding contract length (Pettitte also had no plans on sticking around for a long tail end to his career). In the last 11 seasons, Buehrle has only had one poor season (2006) when he went 12-13 with an ERA of 4.99 (career stats). He’s been extremely durable over that period of time, in fact he’s never had fewer than 30 starts in any of his full major league seasons! He’s a former world series champ, and quite the playoff performer. He’s not a sexy high strikeout guy, but he goes out posts solid numbers and with the Yankees offense behind him would likely post 16 wins with ease. He’s consistent and reliable unlike Burnett, Hughes, or any of our youngsters. Even the bleacher report agrees.
I’d like to see the Yanks lure the trust lefty from the White Sox, where he’s spent his entire career. The Yankees don’t need someone with an ERA below 3, they just need someone who can consistently keep them in games and let their offense do work. Mark Buerhle is the man for the Yankees. Who do you think the Yankees should target?
SURPRISING NOTE: RHP Andrew Brackman has been released by the New York Yankees, four years after signing a contract for a $3.35 million bonus. He walked 7 per 9 IP coming out of the bullpen in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
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