As a baseball fan , my thoughts right now are on the World Series ; whether the San Francisco Giants can continue their run of success or if the Rangers turn out to be Giant killers ( heh heh , I like d that one !). As a Yankee fan , however , one part of my mind is engaged with the Yankees and what the future holds for them. It’s painfully apparent to this fan that the days of this particular group are numbered and that , going forward , there will have to be some difficult decisions to be taken , some big changes to be made . The pitching , with the exception of C.C Sabathia and Mariano Rivera , is unreliable ; the catcher is injury prone and several of the stars are in the twilight of their careers.After watching how the Texas Rangers dismantled the Yankees in the ALCS , no Yankee fan can be sanguine about the future. The Yankees looked old and tired , badly in need of an infusion of youth.
Of the Yankee free agents , the two most prominent are Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter. Mariano is an amazing pitcher who looks like he could go on for ever ; he will be signed at all costs . Derek Jeter , the charismatic captain and shortstop, has kept himself in great shape but he plays a demanding position.Never noted for his great range at short , he is still a reliable fielder , a good hitter who has a knack for getting the big hit , making the great play. Universally admired for his sportsmanship and his leadership skills, he is Mr. Yankee to his legion of adoring fans . However , he is 36 years old and it is difficult to see him playing shortstop three or four years from now. This past year was a bad one for him as his batting average dipped sharply to .270 and his slugging percentage also took a dive . I think though that this was an aberration and he will rebound next year. Brian Cashman needs to limit the length of Jeter’s contract and keep it reasonable . No way is he worth the $25 million a year that his agent is said to be demanding. And yet , such is Jeter’s popularity that it will be difficult for Cashman to drive a hard bargain.
Other than the pitching , the most problematic position is Catcher where the incumbent Jorge Posada’s best years are long gone. He has one year remaining on his contract and will probably be used more as a DH than behind the plate. The Yankees have two top flight catching prospects in the minors and either Jesus Montero or Austin Romee should get a chance as Posada is gradually phased out in 2011.
The infield Of Mark Texiera at first , Robinson Cano at second and Alex Rodriguez at third is set and the outfield with Curtis Granderson , Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner is not bad though I’m not as big a fan of Gardner as some . Of the rest , Marcus Thames was a decided plus as DH / reserve OF but Lance Berkman’s option will probably not be picked up, understandably so.
The bane of the Yankees in recent years has been their pitching. They’ve overpaid for big name stars, often those at the fag-end of their careers . Some have worked out , many have not. Brian Cashman has been a good GM and pulled off some good trades but his record in acquiring pitchers has been less than stellar. Who can forget that bust Kevin Brown signed for $ 105 million or Carl Pavano who pulled down $ 40 million over 4 years but spent most of them on the injured list ? On the current roster, C. C. Sabathia is solid , Phil Hughes is a keeper and Andy Pettite is a battler who will probably be re-signed for another year.As for the rest , that knucklehead A.J. Burnett ( $ 82.5 million , 5 years ) is a disaster and the less said about Javier Vasquez the better. Vasquez was a flop the first time around . Was it really necessary to sign him up again ? Joba Chamberlain had so much promise when he came up three years ago but he hasn’t lived up to it and the bullpen , beyond Mariano Rivera , is a shambles. Damaso Marte was good before he got injured and Dustin Moseley has pitched pretty well but that’s about it. Kerry Wood’s option is too expensive even for the Yankees and the rest are forgettable. I wish they could trade some of their aging stars like Posada for pitching but it’s not going to happen.
If the Yankees are to challenge seriously next year , they need at least one other stud pitcher and some serviceable options for the bullpen. They also could use another outfielder, one with power, and to redefine the roles of Posada and perhaps Jeter.It should be an interesting off-season.