New York Yankees: No Cliff Lee, Who Has a Plan B?

Nick CasoAnalyst IDecember 14, 2010

DETROIT - MAY 13: Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees reacts after striking out in the seventh inning against Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers during the game on May 13, 2010 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Yankees 6-0.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

When the Yankees found out they would be playing the Texas Rangers in the American League Championship Series, everyone in baseball figured Cliff Lee would be auditioning for his new team. 

He took the mound in Game 3 in New York and dazzled everyone in attendance with his eight innings of one-hit ball and added in 13 strikeouts as well.  I would say that is a pretty solid audition, wouldn't you?

While the Yankees were upset in the ALCS, they had high hopes for the offseason—they would sign Cliff Lee and turn their attention to Carl Crawford.

Here we are two months later and neither of those things have happened.  In fact, things could not have gone worse for the Yankees.

Carl Crawford signed a lucrative seven-year deal with the rival Boston Red Sox and we received word late Monday night that Cliff Lee decided to return to the Phillies.

Now what?

We all know the Yankees have money to spend, but right now they may have more than usual.  They set aside a large chunk of change to sign Lee and possibly Crawford but with both players going elsewhere the Yankees are going to have to do something, and fast.

The Yankees are left with several "Plan B" options, none of which they ever thought they we have to resort to however, that nightmare has become a reality.  Here are some possible options they could explore.


Erik Bedard, 2010 Team: Mariners

Bedard has been a guy who has always had a ton of potential but has not lived up to it because of injuries.  He missed all of 2010 with a shoulder injury which is cause for concern, but he is a "low-risk,high-reward" type of guy.  In 2007, he set the Orioles single-season K/9 record with 10.93. 

The Yankees should consider signing Bedard to an incentive-laden deal full of performance bonuses.

Carl Pavano, 2010 Team: Twins

Just kidding.


Brandon Webb, 2010 Team: Diamonbacks

Webb is a former Cy Young winner, has won at least 16 games three times, and like Bedard could be a steal for a team willing to give him a chance.  However, in Webb's case, he has missed the last two seasons with a shoulder injury and his velocity has yet to get back where it was. 

However, he is a veteran guy who does not rely on his fastball as his "out" pitch and he induces a lot of ground balls which is just what Yankee Stadium needs.  Like Bedard, a contract would have to be incentive-laden and full of performances bonuses.  Webb could end up being one hell of a fifth starter.


Chris Young, 2010 Team: Padres

Young was a beast for the Padres in 2007, was solid in '08, and was injured in '09 and most of '10.  However, in limited action in 2010, Young posted a 2-0 record with an ERA of .90.

Like Bedard and Webb, Young is only 31 years of age and could still have his best years ahead of him.  Young generally gets between 140-170 strikeouts and could be a nice compliment to Sabathia, Hughes and Burnett.


Andy Pettitte, 2010 Team: Yankees

Please God, don't retire yet!  Pettitte has considered calling it a career however, with the season he was having before his injury I think he will return for one last run.  Pettitte was 11-3 with an ERA of 3.28 before he got injured.  The Yankees will really need to persuade him to hold off on retirement for one more year.


Brian Fuentes, Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier, 2010 Team: Twins

The Twins were given awful news when All-Star closer Joe Nathan injured his shoulder in Spring Training and was told he would miss the whole season.  However, Jon Rauch stepped in and was great and the Twins loaded up on bullpen help by acquiring Fuentes at the deadline and threw him into the mix with Crain and Guerrier. 

Fuentes has closer experience and is left-handed, while Crain and Guerrier have set-up man experience.  If the Yankees rotation is not very strong, they will need a solid bullpen to keep them in games.  I have more faith in Crain and Guerrier but the addition of any of these players will help solidify the pen.


I know Bedard, Webb, and Young all have injury histories but the Yankees do not have many options.  The Red Sox seem to be the team to beat in the AL now so the Yankees need to show they are willing to put up a fight.  Maybe none of these guys are the options that New York is looking for, perhaps they are looking to acquire a pitcher via a trade. 

The biggest name on the trading block has been Zack Greinke but could you imagine a guy who has anxiety issues pitching a Game 7 in New York?  Edwin Jackson's name has been involved in some talk but he is very inconsistent and the New York media would rip him up. 

The Rays are shopping Matt Garza but would not trade him to a division rival.  The Phillies are said to be shopping Joe Blanton and that would give the Yankees another innings-eater to join Sabathia.

Whatever the Yankees plan on doing, they need to do it fast.  They have yet to improve their team this offseason as they have just re-signed their own players.  They just signed Russell Martin but that does not help their pitching staff.  It may be tough to think about, but the Yankees window to win may be closing as they are getting older.

George Steinbrenner once said, "The Yankees don't rebuild, they reload."  Well unfortunately there may be only one shot left, so use it wisely.

*UPDATE-Yankees agree to a minor-league contract with Mark Prior.