It's officially the offseason. Now begins the hectic calling and coordinating of sports agents, the "give-a-little, get-a-little" trade talks between clubs, and most importantly for teams such as the New York Yankees, the beginning of the cash flow.
Yes, it seems like the New York Yankees are back to their old habits—relying on free agency and their insurmountable capital to once again "fix" their team. The Yankees, coming off a disappointing season where they missed the playoffs for the first time in over a decade, are positioning themselves to again be the team looking to spend the most come free agency.
And with close to $80 million coming off their pay roll, why shouldn't they, right? Realistically the Yankees may very well walk in to spring training without the likes of Jason Giambi ($23 million), Bobby Abreu ($16 million), Andy Pettitte ($16 million), Ivan Rodriguez ($12 million), and the “All American-Idle” Carl Pavano ($11 million) with cash to spend and the intent to do it.
It is necessary this offseason for the Yankees to spend the type of money they are infamous for to get back into postseason baseball. This season was a pass for manager Joe Girardi; however, next season will not be the same case as long as the name Steinbrenner still remains at the front desk. However, the Yankees' constant reliance on offseason spending can very well become a serious problem in the near future.
New York’s repetitive offseason money surges reveal their lack of major-league-ready young players. Clearly their farm systems are not producing quality major leaguers like they used to. The last truly successful and proven Yankee pitcher produced by New York’s farm system that is currently on the roster is Andy Pettitte, who is clearly a few years deep into his decline.
The Bombers need to once again revert back to their 90's mentality, a mentality that won four championships in five years and cemented the team as a historic sports dynasty. This mentality centered around player development; draft smart, develop well, and keep your young talent. Instead the Yanks have regularly made plays for top name free agents, which has cost them valuable draft picks.
If a team decides to give a player that has opted to free agency from their team arbitration, then that team will receive a compensatory draft pick from the club that picks up the free agent. New York’s spend-a-lot to gain-a-lot strategy has resulted in an aging New York team playing without passion and energy, two qualities heavily associated with young teams such as the Tampa Bay Rays and the up-and-coming Florida Marlins.
However dire future trouble the team’s prodigious spending may or may not cause, this offseason should be no different for the Yanks. Plain and simple, they need to open up the checkbooks during these upcoming months.
Atop the first tier free agent list sits the Brewer’s savior CC Sabathia. Coming off a dominating and full force effort in his 17 game stint in the N.L, Sabathia seems the prime target for the Yankees and anyone else who can afford him. CC is looking for Johan Santana money, which is in the realm of $120 million for six years.
Unfortunately for the Yanks rumors have surfaced that Sabathia would like to stay in the N.L. and possibly in his home state of California. But then again, money talks. Nothing is impossible or out of reach for this billion dollar force of a ball club.
Next of the possible pick-ups is Dodger’s righty Derek Lowe. Lowe, 35, is a hard sinkerball-throwing pitcher who is coming off an impressive season posting a 3.24 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP in 34 starts.
An interesting and unexpected move for the Yankees could be deciding to follow the Mets 27-year-old Oliver Perez. Perez produced a back-end rotation ERA at 4.22 (another need for the Yankees if Andy Pettitte decides to retire) but he has also shown great ability and potential in his relatively brief professional career. With good speed variation and solid breaking balls, the young lefty could turn out to be a formidable pitcher in the future.
One of the main problems keeping Perez back is his inconsistency. Constantly Perez will follow up a solid start with a less than promising showing the next game. Another of his problems is the inability to command his fast ball (Perez surrendered 105 walks in 194 innings this season). The two ailments are known to affect younger and less experienced pitchers.
If the Yankees choose to make a play for Perez, it could result in Yankee’s pitching coach Dave Eiland truly showing why he was awarded the job this previous season. Eiland spent most of his MLB service as New York’s Triple-A team pitching coach. It was there that Eiland was assigned to help develop young pitchers. If Eiland can settle Perez down and teach him command of the fastball, both the Yankees and Dave Eiland could heavily benefit from this cost-friendly acquisition.
In then end, the Yankees' most prominent strategy may be their un-doing. But for the mean time it is the only option they can look at to remain relevant in the ever-improving A.L. East. One thing is for sure; this is going to be a very interesting and very expensive offseason for the New York Yankees.