Key Losses: Marcus Thames, Kerry Wood, Javier Vazquez, Lance Berkman...Andy Pettitte?
Key Additions: Rafael Soriano, Pedro Feliciano, Russell Martin, Andruw Jones, Bartolo Colon, Mark Prior
Offseason Goals: Starting pitching; keep the Yankee legends (Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera) in-house.
The Yankees have had one of the poorer offseasons of any team so far this year. After failing to land Cliff Lee, despite reportedly offering him more money and years than both the Phillies and Rangers, the Yankees seemed to lose their normal fizzle.
They did make some decent pickups with Martin and Jones. Both are low risk, high reward. Martin is a two-time All-Star and is still only 27. He might just need a change of scenery.
Jones is an improvement over the departed Thames; they had comparable numbers last season, but Jones had an OPS over .900 against left-handers, whereas Thames struggled against lefties more than righties. Jones is also a vast improvement over Thames defensively; he's a 10-time Gold Glove winner with a career 18.7 UZR/150, while Thames maintained an equally atrocious -33.0 UZR/150 and .947 fielding percentage in 2010.
The Rafael Soriano deal was a bit odd to me. He's a great pitcher, but he has yet to stay healthy for three consecutive seasons. Not to mention he's getting $35 million to be a setup man and can opt out of the deal after each of the first two years. It's possible that if he pitches well, he leaves to go close somewhere else for similar money, but if he pitches poorly or gets injured, the Yankees are burdened with one of the poorer contracts in baseball.
Even if Soriano does pitch well, it's not as if the Yankees have a poor bullpen by any standards (third best reliever ERA, 3.47, in AL last season). They improved on an area that didn't exactly need improving.
To top it off, the general manager of the organization had this to say about the signing: "I just didn't think it was an efficient way to allocate our remaining resources." Yankees GM Brian Cashman has distanced himself from many of the Yankees' moves so far this offseason, and he could potentially leave after his contract expires at the end of the year. After signing Soriano, a Type-A free agent, the Yankees lost their only first round draft pick, and they have just one pick (49) in the first 57 picks next season.
But there's no denying that with Andy Pettitte still hanging in limbo, the Yankees are hurting for starting pitching. Beyond CC Sabathia, they have a few question marks.
It seems unlikely that A.J. Burnett can repeat the performance that was his 2010 season, but he's never really been the pitcher the Yankees wanted him to be when they signed him. Phil Hughes has at times looked dominating but has struggled with consistency. Last year, he was an All-Star and had one of the better first halves in baseball, but he tailed off in the second part of the year.
Beyond that, Ivan Nova, Sergio Mitre, Bartolo Colon and even Mark Prior are shots in the dark.
The Yankees are still one of the best teams in baseball, but they didn't really make the extra leap that many fans were hoping for. The Yankees always find a way to contend, and I don't doubt they'll be in the think of things in October, but they may have been leapfrogged by the Boston Red Sox this offseason, just as the Yankees did to them in 2009.