No Cliff Lee, No Worries for Yankees, but Questions Still Looming For Rotation

Mike OxmallContributor IDecember 24, 2010

Cliff Lee went 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA in his last tenure with the Phillies.
Cliff Lee went 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA in his last tenure with the Phillies.

On the mound:

The Yankees will be fine without Cliff Lee. The Yankees don’t NEED Cliff Lee. Would they have liked to have signed him? Of course. Who wouldn’t have? Having C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, a young 19-game winner in Phil Hughes and possibly Andy Pettitte should be enough for the Yanks. They have a young pitcher in Ivan Nova who, if he fixes his sixth inning troubles, should be a solid pitcher.

And if Pettitte doesn’t come back, which seems to be the case, there are a few options for filling his spot in the rotation. According to Bryan Hoch of, "If spring arrived today, New York would head into camp with a group of largely unpredictable candidates to round out the rotation, headlined by Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre and followed by less likely choices among Andrew Brackman, Dellin Betances, Adam Warren, Hector Noesi and Manny Banuelos.”

Basically, the Yankees will go on with their plans without Pettitte. With the acquisition of Luis Vizciano looking to be a mistake in the making, fans need to remember that he only signed a minor league deal. No big deal. Speaking of minor league deals, the signing of former Cubs ace Mark Prior seemed to be a shock to a lot of Yankee fans. The signing of Pedro Feliciano looks like a good move, seeing as the Yankees were a bit desperate for a southpaw in the 'pen. As a Mets reliever in 2010, Feliciano posted a 3.30 ERA and 1.53 WHIP in 62.2 innings.

Off the mound:

The acquisition of catcher Russell Martin could be considered a good signing. Martin is a good defensive catcher, which the Yankees are desperate for with the lack of defense and power in Francisco Cervelli and with Jorge Posada moving to the full-time DH position. Martin had a 39 percent caught stealing percentage, as opposed to Cervelli’s 14 percent.

Martin’s defense behind the plate is a positive. But another thing the Yankees can look forward to is the two catching prospects in Austin Romine and Jesus Montero. Two guys that Yankee fans have been waiting, some say too long, to see. GM Brian Cashman is pretty much certain he will not give up Montero for anything.

Austin Romine’s 2010 numbers in Trenton: .268 BA, .726 OPS, 122 H, 31 2B in 115 games. Montero’s 2010 numbers in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre: .289 AVG, .870 OPS, 131 H, 34 2B (third in the IL), 21 HR (fourth in IL) in 123 games.

The Yankees missing out on Carl Crawford isn’t a terrible loss, either. Brett Gardner has the talent. They both had 47 SB in 2010. Gardner matches Crawford’s speed. No doubt. But Crawford’s bat is a little better. Gardner is better at working the count and taking pitches than Crawford. Gardner had 79 walks to Crawford’s 46.


Just because the Yankees didn’t make big deals like they did in 2009 doesn’t mean it’s going to be an unsuccessful season. There is no need to panic, Yankee fans. They have the talent. You can’t get a Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett trio every offseason. The Yankees need to get another “core.” Say Cano, Gardner, Nova, Russo, Montero, Golson, Banuelos, Cervelli, Nunez, etc…? Take your pick. Unfortunately, the only “mistake” they seemed to have made this offseason was to put all their eggs in the Lee basket. But don’t count them out of next season. The Yankees will be fine. They are the Yankees after all.