As all baseball fans know, Cliff Lee is currently the best pitcher on the free-agent market for the 2011 season. These previous days, the baseball community has been made aware of the offers for Lee.
The Yankees and the Rangers both have made strong bids. Although the exact offer has not been released, recent reports from ESPN have shown both six and seven year deals from both the Rangers and the Yankees. Heck, even the Angels have an excellent shot of getting Lee!
The 31-year-old left-hander is projected to sign within a few days, according to Buster Olney. We'll only know for sure when the time comes.
As of now, it looks that the Yankees have no backup plans. Yes, I know they are focused on the Lee wars, but is it really going to be worth the money to pay a man until he is 38. He may be terrible! But, that's the risk of signing free-agent pitchers.
Here are some suggestions that the Yankees should at least consider if Lee fails to sign in the Bronx (which wouldn't be surprising to me).
Right off the bat, Webb is arguably the next best option.
Webb is still fairly young, and used to be a pretty good starting pitcher...when he wasn't injured. Webb won the Cy Young in 2006 and in 2008 he finished the season with 22 wins. He has been cursed with injuries for the past two years, and hasn't had the chance to prove himself again.
I can see him in the middle of the rotation, quite possibly even in the number two slot. I say this because Andy Pettitte is seriously pondering retirement.
Larry Rothschild may not have proved himself yet on the Yankees either, but he has the potential to help Webb and maybe even AJ Burnett (gasp!) to become quality pitchers.
I wouldn't mind this rotation (assuming Pettitte Returns):
CC Sabathia, LHP
Brandon Webb, RHP
Andy Pettitte, LHP
Phil Hughes, RHP
AJ Burnett, RHP
The rotation is balanced, but who's to say the plans have to end there?
Did anyone even know the Yankees had this guy?
Andrew Brackman is a 25-year-old "blue chip" pitching prospect. Brackman is gigantic, standing at 6'10" and weighing in at 240 pounds. He was a top draft pick in 2007 and has a ton of potential.
Brackman has a repertoire consisting of a nasty fastball—topping out at 99 mph at times—a knuckle curve, a two-seam fastball and finally a change-up.
He has been observed greatly, and many say he already is major league ready.
Brackman is projected to be the No. 1 starter in the future, if the Yankees decide to keep him. What is smart about this plan is you can use him in either the rotation in place of Burnett or the weakening bullpen.
I would imagine he'd start out in Triple-A for a little while, and then come up to pitch out of the 'pen. It will be fun to watch this guy in the future and could be a great pitcher some day.
For only $4 million, as opposed to almost $200 million for Lee? I'll take that any day.
Believe it or not, a lot of teams love to inquire about Joba.
Yes, he's young. If you really think about it, what has Joba done in New York, especially in 2010. With Joba, he either pitches terribly or beautifully. If he gives up one run, you know he was going to give up more.
However he did rank third in the AL in holds. I can guarantee that almost every Yankee fan cringed whenever Joba was needed to pitch.
He's only 25 years old, and the Yankees could possibly get:
A. Starting pitching (If Joba is packaged correctly without Jesus Montero)
Unless they're desperate for average(at best) starting pitching, option B seems like the more sensible way to go.
I can totally see Joba having a possible resurgence in the NL, but right now, those chances look slim for the Yankees.
Maybe I'm underestimating Joba, but I, and many others, don't want any part of Joba anymore.
This one is plain and simple.
The Yankees have been wanting a player like Bill Hall, especially in 2010. He's certainly better and easily more versatile than Ramiro Pena.
Hall knows how to play every position. Until the Yankees traded for the poor hitting Austin Kearns, the Yankees wanted a guy like him.
Now that he's off the Red Sox, agreeing on a short-term deal will only be easier. He's a decent hitter and could be a very possible option for New York.
Joakim Soria has been an elite closing pitcher on a struggling team. As I have stated in previous trade articles, Soria could be the perfect bridge to Mariano Rivera. He could even be used in some closing situations if Mariano needs rest.
He is clearly better than Joba or Mitre, but he will cost a ton. The Yankees would at least have to give up Austin Romine and/or maybe even Joba!
Although he can be a nice addition, the chances for him landing in New York are slim.
But, you never know.
Kerry Wood was an excellent addition to the Yankees last season. The Cubs, Wood's former team, are strongly going after Kerry Wood. I thought he was an excellent setup man for Mariano. He gave up a bit too many walks, but his ERA was phenomenal.
During his tenure in New York, Wood had a 0.69 ERA.
Either of these guys would make perfect sense for the Yankee bullpen.
This offseason can be beneficial for the Yankees if they stop depending on the signing of Lee. Of course it would be a huge addition and highly overpriced, but areas of improvement are not yet filled. If Lee is signed, the Yankees may have possibly wasted a huge amount of money.
Personally, I think the Yankees can get by without Lee.
Lee is a luxury, not a necessity at this point in time. By the time Lee is all signed with a team, I'm almost positive he'll cost more than CC Sabathia. In fact, he could be more expensive than CC now!
If they can get Webb, Hall, and bring up Brackman, I feel this offseason could be a success.
And in regards to the Red Sox already being mentioned to be World Series winners, give me a break.
They're always projected to win on paper, but they never do it on the field. We are still a good two or three months away from spring training. Until then, anyone can go to the World Series.
Thanks for reading!