Hello, once again! To start, a big congrats to the World Champion New York Yankees! It has a been a long time coming for us fans, and the team definitely earned it this year with their clutch play!
Honestly, this was one of the best teams the Yanks have had in the last 20 years or so, I would say the only one that might best them would be the incredible 1998 Championship team. Enough about the past though, let us look ahead into the future to the 2010 team that will look to defend their championship.
Alright, so, the great thing about this team is that all most of it is under contract for next year, which is a good thing. This team had tremendous chemistry and character, and that is in part to the additions made last winter.
Hats off to Cashman and company for pulling off an outstanding 2008-2009 winter of signings, they really did their research into the person, not only the player, and everyone seemed to fit in perfectly.
A winning team has to have several things: Talent, Chemistry, and will to win. From the moment A-Rod returned to the lineup, these are the elements this team had, and that results in championships. The one great thing is that most of the players will be returning.
This writer is a firm believer that championship teams should be preserved as much as possible, with some differences to add the balance of natural change. The biggest question mark in this offseason market will be what free agents from the 2009 team do we re-sign?
There is no doubt in my mind that everyone of our free agents want to return. This list includes reserve players Jerry Harriston Jr., Jose Molina, Eric Hinske, and Freddy Guzman, and of course the big names, Johnny Damon and World Series MVP Hideki Matsui.
Here is what I say the yanks should do: All of the reserve players are replaceable, but I would like to see Harriston return, I think he added great versatility to the bench being able to play almost every position, and some pop and timely hitting.
I also think that he wouldn't mind returning to a team that gave him his first postseason in his 10+ year career, and his first WS ring. Hinske, though I like his bat, he is definitely replaceable, though he would still be a keeper. He is also very expendable though, because you have Shelley Duncan who is virtually the same player, only batting right-handed.
I would also like to see how Duncan would do with a full season in the majors after his monster year at AAA. Guzman has speed, and just about nothing else, so he is no real issue. The real issues are Damon and Matsui. Who do you re-sign?
I do believe that one of these veterans will be back in pinstripes, but which one? Damon is definitely in better shape, and has shown durability in his career, playing in at least 140 games every year, but his fielding is average to below average, and he can be a liability in LF in the years to come.
His agent, Scott Boras, is saying that they are looking for possibly another four-year contract, which will never happen. If the Yanks do want him back, it will most likely be for one year with an option, or at the very most two years with an option for a third, and that would be pushing it.
I do feel that he would come back for less money, but I can see him go. He added great chemistry to the club when he came over four years ago, but his job is replaceable, which is unfortunate to say. He is one of those cases that can go either way, if he stays, great, and pray for the best, if he goes, it will not the the BIGGEST loss, but he would be missed.
The same would have to go for Matsui.
Now, the World Series MVP had a great season as the full-time DH, which sparred his balky knees, and he proved to be a big time run producer with clutch hitting. The unfortunate thing is that he is now a full time DH, and that is it.
The Yankees have expressed the desire to be able to mix and match the DH spot, spelling Jorge, Jeter, A-Rod, among others to keep them fresh, but still in the lineup.
This is where the dilemma comes into the Matsui discussion. Matsui is too good of a hitter to be part time, so what do you do? I know it would be hard to see him in another uniform, but it is a big possibility. The problem with Damon and Matsui are their age, and with age, there is a bigger risk of durability.
What happens if they re-sign them, and they break down, then it is an "I told you so," and a mistake. If they re-sign and stay healthy and produce, the it will be a "no-brainer." Only time will tell, but it is too hard to predict those two, but I do predict one will resign.
Andy Pettitte is the other big free agent question mark. Prediction: He will once again debate what he wants to do, retire or return for another one-year contract. It will be a tougher decision this offseason though, because he has to decide whether he wants to retire on top, or return for another go at it.
I believe he still has plenty left in the tank, and proved it with an outstanding postseason once again, earning his fifth ring. He will once again return, maybe with a slightly better contract then he signed for last year, maybe a guaranteed $7 or $8 million.
Now, onto the free agents coming from other teams and possible trades.
The names you are hearing now with links to the Yanks are Roy Halladay, Curtis Granderson, and Jon Lackey. I'm gonna try and make my opinions on the three very clear: Halladay would be amazing. If Cashman can make some magic and steal him from the Jays, the rotation would be unstoppable.
Think of it, Sabathia, Halladay, Burnett, Pettitte, and whoever else? That just isn't fair! The only hitch will be that the Jays are going to want a lot in return, so, who do you part with? The scuttlebutt around town is a package that will have to include either Hughes or Joba, or potentially both, plus prospects.
My opinion: Don't give up either at any costs. Cashman has built up a great farm system now, and there are many intergral parts of this championship team that have come from that recent farm system.
That is what builds championship teams. Hold onto both. Here is what I would offer for Halladay and see if there is a bite or not: Ian Kennedy, Eric Duncan, a pitcher along the likes of Andrew Claggett or Michael Dunn, maybe another major league ready arm like Abalandejo, and then, of course: CA$H.
It sounds like a lot, but Kennedy has been pitching well, Duncan had a better year, and all players mentioned have has some major league experience. The best part is that all have an upside and all really have little to no chance of making the roster in 2010, but would make a roster on another team.
They are also all young with bright futures, and you get to retain Montero. Will the Blue Jays take it? Only time will tell.
As far as Granderson goes, I don't see why we need him. The team doesn't really need what he brings to the table. Yes, he has power and speed in center, but he cannot hit lefties, and I don't think it would be a good fit. We have Melky and Gardner, which satisfy all of Granderson's game aside from power, which we have enough of.
Lackey is a great top of the rotation workhorse, who wants to win, and would fit in almost anywhere he goes. I do not think he would fit in New York though. He seems like a hot tempered guy, who might screw with the chemistry of the team.
I have visions of him faltering under Girardi, and butting heads with him as well, something no one has done yet. He would be perfect for Queens though, the Mets need pitching behind Santana, and he would fit there. They need a winner.
Honestly, outside of trying to add Halladay, who I think would LOVE to come to New York, there are next to no other needs that cannot be filled in house. There is no great need in the bronx like there was last year, just some re-signings that need to get done.
And, like stated before, there are people who can be replaced. If you don't re-sign Harriston, you have someone like Ramiro Pena, if you don't re-sign Molina, you have Cervelli, Hinske you have Duncan, and so on and so forth. Pettitte would be a nice return to the rotation, but if he does decide to retire, then there is a different issue to address.
Joba should stay in the bullpen, and Hughes can be re-inserted into the No. 4 or 5 spot. Honestly, though he was outstanding in the eighth, his stuff translates better to the rotation, just like Joba's translate better to the bullpen.
He seems to thrive on pressure, and that is where he needs to be, I think the playoffs showcased that. So, as far as my prediction goes for the 2010 yanks, here is your team as I see it unfolding, of course with some question marks:
Harriston, Duncan, Cervelli, Gardner, Pena
Hughes? Wang? Joba? Someone else?
Rivera, Joba, Robertson, Coke, Marte, Aceves, Gaudin
Other question marks are the likes of Gaudin and Nady. Gaudin proved to be a very nice addition, and would be a nice long reliever/spot starter.
Nady is coming off his second Tommy John surgery, and I would be very surprised if he would be ready at the start of the season if he were to re-sign, but honestly, the only way I see that happening is if we let Damon go, and don't bring in someone else and we sign him for insurance purposes.
Let's see what they do!
Dark Horse Signing Prediction
Jermaine Dye : He is a free agent veteran right fielder with pop and a gun for an arm. Same age as Damon and Matsui, but would be a cross between the both of them. This should only happen if the yanks do not resign either of the two. Probably won't happen, but a little food for thought.