As spring training draws closer there are still many questions surrounding the 2009 New York Yankees. Who will fill the 5th spot in the rotation? Who will start in centre field? Who will be traded from the pile up in corner outfielders?
Starting with the rotation, it now looks very unlikely Andy Pettite will return and that is a real shame. An offer of $10M was more than fair and he should have accepted. I cannot see any other team offering him that kind of cash so retirement looks a real possibility, sadly. I think it may be better for the Yankees to let the young pitchers battle it out for the 5th place anyway. Hughes should win the battle and kick start his career in the majors. Hughes has real ace potential and 5th place on rotation will give him the experience he needs without the pressure of last season.
Sticking with the young pitchers leaves $10M in the wage fund to improve offensively. The perfect plan would be to trade Nady, Swisher and Matsui and invest the money in Manny. The offensive trio of Manny with ARod and Teixeira would take so much pressure off Cano and Melky as they try to bounce back from the disaster of last season. It would also mean less reliance on Posada as he makes his return from shoulder surgery. The stumbling block with this is Matsui has a full no trade clause and is coming off surgery again. Could a team be found willing to take on his $13M wages?
I do believe Brian Cashman will be looking at all these possibilities as we speak, because the chance to add a clutch guy like Manny has to be explored until every possible way has been discounted. If Cashman does decide to go on without Manny we still need to find a way to add another bat as Teixeira cannot replace the production of both Giambi and Abreu.
Its going to be an interesting few weeks as all these questions are answered. One thing is for sure the 2009 Yankees look a much more formidable force from last season already and with a reduced wage bill.