Sunday, December 03, 2006

Winter Meetings Reset

We're on the doorstep of the main event of the offseason, and there's plenty of action expected. There's pitching aplenty, the Manny Ramirez fiasco, Daisuke's negotiations, potential Barry Bonds developments, and potential trade targets as Miguel Tejada, Brad Lidge and Richie Sexson. With all these storylines, it's easy to get excited despite the Yankees' absence from any of them. Here's where the Yankees stand, unit-by-unit:

Starting Rotation (5)
Right now
RHP Chien-Ming Wang
RHP Mike Mussina
LHP Kei Igawa
LHP Randy Johnson
RHP Carl Pavano

Other options

RHP Humberto Sanchez
RHP Darrell Rasner
RHP Jeff Karstens
RHP Philip Hughes
RHP Scott Proctor
RHP Tyler Clippard
LHP Sean Henn

The Yankees have plenty of depth and oodles of potential. The top three are good bets to be mainstays all year long, though, like all pitchers, with a fair bit of range in performance.

While those three are likely to eat up 90 starts, piecing together the other 72 could very will be spread amongst all nine of the other options. Johnson and Pavano both have serious health AND performance issues. Jeff Karstens, relying on the aerodynamic wonder that is his nonexistent chin, is probably Torre's first option for fill-in duty, despite having the worst stuff of any of the minor league fallbacks. Rasner is a similar 4A guy, though I like his odds of contributing something.

By all accounts, both Hughes and Sanchez are already major league-ready. It's possible--if not likely--that both end the season in the rotation. Clippard should be in Scranton all year with only a late-season emergency start in the cards.

Bullpen (7)
Right now
RHP Mariano Rivera
RHP Scott Proctor
RHP Kyle Farnsworth
LHP Mike Myers
RHP Chris Britton
RHP Brian Bruney
RHP Darrell Rasner

Other Options
RHP T.J. Beam
RHP Colter Bean
RHP J. Brent Cox
LHP Ron Villone
LHP Sean Henn

I'm fine with the bullpen. Granted, I'd prefer only six releivers, but we know Torre is going with seven.

Rivera is a god. The setup and uber-LOOGY are good. Middle relief is a problem for most teams, but there are plenty of names here to work with. In addition to these relievers, there are also the prospects, who can make their MLB debuts as long relievers. There's no reason to give out ridiculous long-term deals to mediocre bullpen arms, Baltimore-style.

Infield (5)
Right now
C Jorge Posada
1B Andy Phillips
2B Robinson Cano
3B Alex Rodriguez
SS Derek Jeter

Other options
Craig Wilson
Eduardo Perez
Shea Hillenbrand

One of these things is not like the other. One could argue that at four of the five infield positions, the Yankees have the best player in the league. The other? Not so much.

Much as I like Andy Phillips, he did nothing last season to earn an everyday job. Craig Wilson would be ideal to resign, what with his righthanded sock and cheap price tag. The concern is that Torre doesn't trust him after his poor two-month trial in 2006.

Other than Wilson, the options are bad. Hillenbrand isn't much of a hitter, costs a lot, and raises all sorts of clubhouse issues. Perez can hit lefties, but is wildly inconsistent.

There's always the possibility of a trade (Pavano for Sexson's contract?) but the wish here is a second chance for Wilson.

Outfield/DH (4)
Right now
LF Hideki Matsui
CF Johnny Damon
RF Bobby Abreu
DH Jason Giambi

Other options
What for?

Can you say 'set'? Seriously, the Yankees' lineup is a monster.

Bench (4)
Right now
OF Melky Cabrera
IF Nick Green
C Wil Nieves
OF Kevin Thompson

Other options
OF/DH Bernie Williams
IF Miguel Cairo
OF Kevin Reese
C Sal Fasano
Any of a million hangers-on and minor league free agents

Melky immediately makes the bench useful; he can and will play all three outfield positions. Thompson is an ideal fifth outfielder. He can hit a bit, has the speed to play all three outfield spots, and is a fantastic pinch running option for Giambi/Posada/Matsui. So this half of the bench is quite strong.

The other half? Meh. When was the last time Torre carried a useful backup catcher? We're used to no value from that spot, a tradition that should continue in 2007. The backup infield spot needs to be filled. I'm not thrilled with either Cairo or Green. That's something that can be taken care of anytime, however.

Essentially, this team needs a first baseman and utility infielder. That's it. Both needs can be filled cheaply and easily, sticking with Cashman's plan to get younger and cut payroll. The only other issue is completing the Igawa negotiations. Beyond that, the Yankees' remaining offseason should be quiet.

The Yankees are strong and the other 29 teams are doing crazy things. Life is good.

1 comment:

sam said...

I think, after Pettitte deal, one of these guys will be traded, and it is not going to be Wang, Mussina or Johnson. I think Cashman now plays hardball with Igawa, and in the event, still lands him, perhaps trades Pavano. Which would make 60% of the rotation left-handed. I don't really care about their handedness as long as they are good, but that is something rare.