MLB Hot Stove: New York Yankees' Cheapest Cliff Lee Backup Plan

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MLB Hot Stove: New York Yankees' Cheapest Cliff Lee Backup Plan
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The New York Yankees are not being shy about who they want to be in pinstripes in 2011.

Ace Cliff Lee has already been paid a visit by GM Brian Cashman. Lately questions have been raised about Lee being a country bumpkin coming to the Big Apple, and if more money will make a difference in his decision.

One thing is for sure, Mrs. Lee better not step foot into Yankee Stadium if her husband is not in pinstripes.

Regardless, Lee’s Yankee future is not guaranteed. The remaining free-agent options for starting pitchers are bleak in comparison, as none hold a candle to Lee’s kind of talent.

So a backup plan is inevitable. Last week, I talked about three possible alternatives in New York Yankees: Three Possible Cliff Lee Backup Plans. Now, I am going to add another viable option, though the likelihood of it is a long shot.

The Yankees do have the alternative to look internally.

It’s a risk they took with Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy, which turned into a circus. Hughes, luckily, is legit now, but the Yankees lost Joba in order to figure out what they were doing, and Kennedy is gone, not that he never was there to begin with as a Yankee, though.

This talent lies in the arm of Manny Banuelos. Banuelos is a 19-year-old lefty who is only 5'10" and hails from Mexico.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Banuelos has displayed the maturity of a Major League pitcher, evident by the way he controls his emotions on the mound. Banuelos' attitude follows, as it is right-on both on and off the field.

Banuelos throws a mid-90s fastball with remarkable movement, a fantastic changeup and a curve ball that he is improving on.

Banuelos can keep developing his pitching techniques because he already displays a consistent delivery off the mound. Translation: The youngster is comfortable out there already, at least in the minor leagues.

This kid is turning into the real deal, but the Yankees have to have a game plan and stick to it this time.

Rules are supposed to be followed, not broken and used as excuses for reckless decisions by the managerial staff.

Regardless, this can’t even happen without a confirmation that Andy Pettitte is coming back. Even if he does, this is an option of last resort. It provides zero depth in the rotation, which could end the season real fast.

Still, Pettitte better hurry it up, instead of becoming the baseball version of Brett Favre.

Acting bigger than the game is not a trait Pettitte shares with Favre (that we know of), so let’s presume Pettitte lets the Yankees know by Thanksgiving at the latest.

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