You can be certain this guy's involved in my plans.
OK, so 2010 isn't even in the books yet.
But it's never to early to start talking about 2011, especially when the team is expected to compete for a championship each season.
Very little can be done about this year. The chips will fall where they may regarding a 2010 championship. It's time for "The Evil Empire" to start plotting for next season.
In that regard, I have something very evil for them to pull off.
Read on to find out...
This is a foregone conclusion, right?
The Yankees won't be resigning Javier Vazquez. Assuming Andy Pettitte retires, the Yankees only have three locks for their rotation in 2011: CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett.
That is not a formidable group as it stands. If you add Cliff Lee to that mix, the Yankees have three starting pitchers that match up with any other team's starting three, including the Phillies.
More likely than not, the Yankees are going to empty the coffers and expend a great deal of energy recruiting Cliff Lee.
You should expect to see him in pinstripes next season.
This guy is a robot.
After showing signs of slowing down toward the end of a season, Rivera has silenced critics in the ALDS, finishing all three of the Yankees victories against the Twins, even netting a four-out save.
With a 1.80 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP, Rivera might have had one of his worst seasons of the past few years because of his shoddy finish.
Read that again. A 1.80 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP in a year when people were a bit down on him.
Are you going to bet against Mo?
See that guy in the photo there? That's Jesus Montero, the top prospect in the Yankees farm system. Get to know him now.
This 6'4" 230 lb catcher doesn't turn 21 until November 28th. But the future is now. If Montero doesn't break camp with the team next spring, it will be an immense disappointment.
Defensively, he is not great, but then again, neither are Jorge Posada and Francisco Cervelli.
The bat, however, is very real and very major league ready.
After a slow start to the season, the 20-year-old Montero posted a blistering .340/.406/.635 line in his final 51 games, hitting 14 home runs and collecting 43 RBI in that span.
Montero is ready to catch half the games at the major league level. His bat dictates that.
But this doesn't stop at Montero. The Yankees need to keep getting younger. If Lee signs and Pettitte doesn't come back, that still leaves the team with an opening for the fifth spot in the rotation. Let a guy like Ivan Nova have that final spot. Another position should be manned by a younger option, but we'll get to that later.
They'd never do this, right?
Yankees fans would revolt. The team would revolt. The pressure to win a World Series would be magnified, if that's possible, tenfold.
The Yankees won't let Derek Jeter walk.
But if they were thinking with their heads, and not their hearts, they would let Jeter walk.
It's difficult to replace a legend in the hearts and minds of your fans. But it's not as difficult to replace an aging middle infielder.
Who would you replace Derek Jeter with?
Remember step three, recruit from within. Hand the reigns to Eduardo Nunez and bring in a cheap backup to help take some pressure off of Nunez such as J.J. Hardy, Christian Guzman or Juan Uribe.
The loss of offense would almost be evened out by the improved defense. And the Yankees would save a lot of money, allowing them to spend it on making their offense unstoppable.
Using the money they saved by not re-signing Derek Jeter, the Yankees could go out and sign Adam Dunn.
The insight in this deal comes from a group of friends I have that are Mets fans (the part about signing Dunn, not letting Jeter walk, that's all me), so kudos to them.
Adam Dunn has a lot of power. He's also left-handed. If Johnny Damon, who's also left-handed, can hit 77 home runs in four years as a Yankee (he has 135 home runs in 11 major league seasons with other teams), how many can Dunn hit?
I'm willing to go out on a limb and guess he'd hit 50 or more home runs, many of which would be pop outs in most other stadiums.
Dunn could be the permanent DH for the Yankees.
This would make a duo of Jorge Posada and Jesus Montero the Yankees go-to pinch hitter or replacement for Dunn at DH if he were to get hurt or needed a day off.
That is a lot of power and hitting ability rotating in two spots.
All of this probably won't happen. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't.
The AL East is going to be a dogfight for years to come. The Rays have a lot of young talent waiting to contribute, the Red Sox are going to get healthy and restock and the Blue Jays and Orioles both have a lot of young talent, especially in their pitching rotations, waiting to catapult them into contention.
The Yankees have to be smart and make good business decisions if they want to stay on top of the pile. If these moves wouldn't do that, I wouldn't be recommending them. I think the roster would shake out like this (starters listed in batting order):
LF Brett Gardner
DH Adam Dunn
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
RF Nick Swisher
CF Curtis Granderson
C Jorge Posada
SS Eduardo Nunez
Bench: Jesus Montero, Christian Guzman, Greg Golson
Starting Rotation: CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett, Ivan Nova
Bullpen: Mariano Rivera, Kerry Wood, Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson, Boone Logan, Sergio Mitre, Jonathan Albaladejo
The 25th man could be anybody from another reliever to another outfielder.
In this setup, the Yankees would have three power arms starting the season at AA Trenton (Andrew Brackman, Dellin Betances and Manuel Banuelos) who could be called upon in 2011 to strengthen the bullpen if it struggles next year. Bullpen turnover is usually high in the majors. Success in a prior year does not guarantee success the next year. Those three pitchers are important to take note of.
Does that lineup seem like it would miss Derek Jeter much?
Who knows, they're the Yankees. Maybe they could sign Lee and Dunn and still re-sign Jeter. I don't imagine them forking over that much money, but they could. Imagine the lineup I outlined above, but with Jeter in the ninth spot instead of Nunez. Scary, huh?
One can dream.