Gazing Into the Crystal Ball: 5 Things That the Future Holds for The Yankees
Former Yankees manager Casey Stengel was photographed holding a baseball and gazing at it, as if it were a crystal ball, right after he was hired in 1949. Many Yankee staffers winced when they saw the pictures, but whatever he saw, it must have been good, because not only did he win the World Series his first year on the job, but he won the next four after that.
Stengel would win a total of seven World Series titles in his 12 years with the Yankees.
If it worked for Stengel then it could work for Brian Cashman now, who is about to embark upon what could be the most tumultuous offseason he has ever experienced. Three of the core four Yankees have expiring contracts, and Cashman must decide for how long and how much he is going to bring them back for, while keeping in mind that all three of them growing older by the day. He also has a manager to re-sign.
After the in-house duties are done, he must turn his attention to improving his team in the free agent and trade market, where Cy Young award winners Cliff Lee and Zack Greinke both await, along with Carl Crawford, Adam Dunn, Adrain Beltre and Jayson Werth.
After all of that, he has some more tough decisions to make regarding the starting catching job, with Jorge Posada, Francisco Cervelli and Jesus Montero all viable candidates.
He certainly has a lot on his plate and after gazing into a crystal ball, this is what he should see happen in the coming months.
Joe Girardi Will Return for 2011
Brian Cashman has been clear in his intention to bring back his manager Girardi for next season, and he will follow through on that.
With the Cubs already naming their manager for next season, Joe Girardi doesn't really have a decision to make about his managerial future, and will re-sign with the Yankees for three years and $10 million. A respectable pay raise after taking the Yanks to two postseasons and winning the 2009 World Series.
Not every fan will be happy with him back, criticising his moves to sit players in August during a key series with Tampa Bay and claiming he makes too many decisions based purely on matchups rather than going with his gut feeling in certain situations. But I think the majority of fans will be happy to see him back at the helm of the Bronx Bombers.
The Core Four All Back, But Cheaper Than Before
They may be old, but they will all be back for at least one more season together and one last run at another World Series ring.
Derek Jeter won't be making $20 million a year anymore, especially after his 2010 performance being the worst full season of his career. His contract will read more along the lines of four years and $60 million, certainly a reasonable pay cut that I think both sides will agree on mutually.
Some might say $15 million is double what he would get anywhere else. Well, he holds more value to the Yankees and we all know that they have the money to spend. After all, he is the captain.
Mariano Rivera will also join his long-time teammate Jeter for at least another year, and there is no reason why he wouldn't. He had yet another outstanding year in 2010, and continues to defy father time. Mo signs for one year and $12 million, as I think he will start to get the Andy Pettitte treatment and begin to work off of year-by-year contracts.
Speaking of Andy Pettitte, he will be back as well to bring the core four full circle one last time. After talking to his family and riding his four wheeler down in Texas for about three weeks, he will sign a one-year, $12 million contract for the 2011 season.
These guys know they don't have very much left in the tank and that they can't play the game they all love forever, but 2011 will see all of them back in pinstripes for at least one more year.
Cliff Lee Will Be in Pinstripes for 2011
Sorry Texas fans, your best pitcher will be a Yankee next season.
Too many times have GM Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi watched on the side as their powerful lineup gets absolutely shut down by Cliff Lee, both in the regular season and playoffs. That is why Cashman went after him in July, to avoid the very situation he ran into in the playoffs where Lee shut the Yankees down, just as he did in the 2009 World Series, only that time he was on the winning end.
The man is a great pitcher and a shrewed businessman as well. He has said all along that he will go to the highest bidder and that there is no question he will test the free agent market, the day he has waited for so long and through several different teams.
The Rangers will be in the mix for sure and I just have that feeling that Boston will try to bid the price for him even higher, so I think the Yankees give him $144 million over six years. They would love to sign him to four years, but with at least one other team in the bidding war, Cashman is going to have to give him six.
Joba Chamberlain is Traded
There are already rumors out now that he could be on the move this offseason and he will be.
Joba is clearly nowhere near the same pitcher he was when he first came and worked out of the bullpen. Several years of back-and-forth between the starting rotation and bullpen have left his arm obviously damaged.
He lost his set-up role to veteran Kerry Wood this year and was bumped further down the pecking order with David Robertson surpassing him.
The once heir apparent to Mariano Rivera has fallen a long way down and will be wearing an Arizona Diamondbacks uniform next year. The D-Backs were interested in him at the trade deadline and need some bullpen help. The Yankees should get a couple of prospects for Joba.
Old Faces in New Places: Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui Return
The Yankees will bring back two key members of their 2009 World Series champions team, when they sign free agents Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon.
Damon, who struggled offensively in the spacious Comerica field with the Tigers last season, will sign a one-year, $2 million contract. He has already said that he would like to return to the Yankees, which makes sense because his swing is perfect for the short porch in right field.
Matsui, who had a decent year with the Angels where he even saw the outfield grass a couple times, will sign a one-year, $6 million contract. Much like Damon, Matsui has a perfect swing for right field at Yankee Stadium.
These former stars will be reduced to bench duty in 2011, backing up the corner outfield spots and as a possible DH tandem along with Jorge Posada.