Sure Billy Beane is a (Money)baller and plays that theory to perfection, but he does it out of necessity. And for every Billy Beane, there are five Steve Phillips.
For the Yankees, money ain’t a thang. Pretending that it is has come back to haunt them this season.
Go back to last offseason and re-examine their refusal to include Phil Hughes in a deal for Johan Santana. I understand that they considered Hughes a top prospect, but he wasn’t special in his cameo last season and certainly couldn’t hold a candle to Santana’s flame.
If Hughes and Ian Kennedy could’ve been packaged with other supposed supreme prospects in deals for Santana and Dan Haren, how could they pass? The Yankees should always target the top proven starting pitchers in baseball, acquire them at all costs, and build from there.
Tim Hudson, Carlos Zambrano, and Roy Oswalt are a few other prototypical, once available pitchers they missed out on in the past.
The Yankees starting staff is just the beginning, though. The entire roster is beginning to look like a wreck. And it will be worse in a few years as players signed to long-term deals age.
This offseason Brian Cashman should stop straining his brain. The Yankees holes are glaring and the free agent class is ready-made to fill them.
Here’s a position-by-position analysis:
C- Jorge Posada- Posada is overpaid, but they’re okay here
1B- Jason Giambi if they pick up the option- A long-term problem, must be addressed
2B- Robinson Cano- Set
SS- Derek Jeter- Set
3B- Alex Rodriguez- Obvious
LF- Johnny Damon, Xavier Nady- Damon’s playing center now, Yankees have an option year on Nady
RF- Bobby Abreu- Free agent-to-be
DH- Hideki Matsui- Set
Rotation- Crudely assembled mishmash of garbage
What to do, what to do… WWPD. What Would Preston Do? Buy an eight-gallon bucket of ice cream, of course. In other words, spend that money like it's going out of S-T-Y-L-E!
At first, Mark Teixeira is 29, one of the best defensive first baseman in baseball, and a proven hitter. Sign him up and the infield is set for the next five years at least (although Jeter’s slipping play may make me revisit that statement).
In the outfield, the Yankees are already loaded with talent, but it doesn’t all fit together defensively. Ignore that, sign Manny Ramirez in left and re-sign Abreu. The troika of Ramirez, Damon, and Abreu will continue to hit well even as they age as they all have great eyes at the plate and power ranging from pretty good to ungodly. Taking a flyer on Rocco Baldelli would be good business, too.
Now the real problem, the rotation…
Right now, Joba Chamberlain and Chien-Mien Wang are the only sure things for 2009 (health permitting).
Behind those two, Kennedy, Hughes, Mike Mussina (if re-signed), Andy Pettite (if re-signed), and Darrell Rasner (if desperate) are all candidates, none ideal for a team searching for perfection at any cost.
Once again, Cashman should consult Mr. Waters.
With two of the top young pitchers in baseball available in CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets, the Yankees should move quickly to sweep them up.
Then, the Yanks should package one of Kennedy or Hughes, plus Austin Jackson and other top prospects for another superstar young pitcher. Chad Billingsley, Felix Hernandez, Tim Lincecum, and Brandon Webb should be targeted here.
Finally, I’d suggest signing Mussina to a one-year deal.
That’d leave the Yankees with a starting five of:
Superstar young stud
Joba and Hughes/Kennedy
Oh, wait, that's more than five...
That's because acquiring so many elite starting pitchers would allow the Yankees the flexibility to move Joba back into a set-up role where he can once again be the dominant bridge to Mariano Rivera.
And the Yankees would still have Hughes or Kennedy to plug into the rotation should someone get injured.
That Yankees team would be among the greatest of all-time, Preston Waters would be proud, and Cashman and Steinbrenner might have the following classic exchange.
GS: OK, just tell me where the money is.