Derek Jeter had an outstanding year at the plate, but is his time at shortstop coming to an end?
The postseason has just begun for the New York Yankees, but it is never too early to look ahead to the offseason.
Although they are in a great position to win the World Series, the impending offseason will not be without issues.
Many of these issues involve the treatment of New York’s best players.
How much will a few top hitters make moving forward? Who should be playing where? What will the Yankees decide to do with their crowded bullpen?
Here are four issues the Bronx Bombers will need to address this offseason.
Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson engage in a game of rock-paper-scissors.
When the season does end for the New York Yankees, there is one priority that severely trumps any other issues they may have; they absolutely must re-sign Robinson Cano.
As they have historically done over the years, the Yankees did not address the future of their second baseman prior to the expiration of his current contract.
The first instinct of many, like that of Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan, is to give Cano a career contract. “Make him a Yankee for life,” he writes.
This figures to be the approach New York will adopt, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a Yankee supporter who disagrees with this move.
However, at 29, Cano may already be dangerously close to a slow decline out of his prime (i.e., 32-year-old Albert Pujols who just had the worst year of his career. While much of that was due to a slow start, a 10-year guaranteed contract is certainly disconcerting).
There’s no reason to believe New York will fail to get its expected production from Cano through, say, 2015, but Brian Cashman and Co. will absolutely consider what rests beyond. This ordeal could become a drag.
Another point of difficulty will be how the Cano contractual situation impacts extending Curtis Granderson’s time in pinstripes.
Will Granderson feel disrespected/unwanted/cheapened when brushed aside for Cano? He should recognize those emotions as unintended consequences, but only time will tell if the Yankees can throw around enough cash in a timely enough fashion to please both sluggers.
Mariano Rivera's injury has been surprisingly not catastrophic.
Mariano Rivera’s torn ACL proved to be less significant than many expected.
Rafael Soriano finished the year with 42 saves and a 2.26 ERA. David Robertson recorded 30 holds and a 2.67 ERA.
Assuming Mo does return for an 18th year, will he re-assume the role as closer? A team can never have too many relievers, but will Rivera feel as though he is owed a significant bullpen spot? Could the Yankees possibly be callous to their fifth-greatest player of all time and avoid dealing with perceived uncertainty?
Speaking of Yankee legends…
Derek Jeter will continue to succeed at the plate, but where will he field?
Keeping with the feel of the previous slide, where (if at all) will Jeter play defense in 2013?
The most beloved New York athlete possibly ever led the MLB in hits and scored 99 runs, but questions continue to linger regarding his defense.
Take, for example, the first two games of the ALDS. Jeter committed an error in both. He’s also failed to come up with “makeable” snags like this one. Both fielding problems led to Jeter finishing 2012 with the third-worst defensive WAR among all shortstops.
Is it time for the captain and Alex Rodriguez to swap?
Another factor pertaining to Jeter’s infield location concerns Eduardo Núñez. Is the organization approaching the point where he deserves to be promoted to a regular? Núñez batted .292 with an OPS of .723 this year.
This look says it all for Ivan Nova.
Starting pitching, the annual offseason issue of the Bronx Bombers, will most likely hold that dubious distinction yet again.
I say “probably” because CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte have been outstanding through two games of the postseason. If the Yankees do win the World Series, all the regular-season troubles may be brushed aside.
Hiroki Kuroda ranked eighth among all pitchers in 2012 with a WAR of 5.2. Sabathia, as we have seen down the stretch this year, is still ace material.
But what about the rest?
Ivan Nova looked like a legitimate No. 2 or 3 last year, but a 5.02 ERA makes it hard to convince anyone of this. So do quality starts in only 46 percent of one’s games. Phil Hughes (pobre si) allowed 35 homers (second most in MLB). Andy Pettitte is a postseason specialist (a very valuable title, but not one useful in the pursuit of year-long success)
The Yankees will likely want to add another arm to the rotation, but will the attention given to Cano and Granderson supersede this issue?
Let’s see how the postseason impacts all of these.