6 Questions the New York Yankees Need to Address for the 2012 Season
It’s very hard to describe a team that has a payroll of over $202 million as a group of overachievers, but that word properly sums up the 2011 New York Yankees.
After they were defeated by the Detroit Tigers (who, let’s face it, were the all-around better team), the Yankees suddenly have to answer some major questions.
Here are several things the Yankees need to address before the 2012 season starts.
1. Who Will Be the Starting Pitchers?
Locks: CC Sabathia (if he doesn't opt out, we'll get to that later), Ivan Nova
On the Bubble: A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances
Free Agent: Freddy Garcia
Possible Free Agent Acquisitions: C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle
2. Who Will Be the Other Lefty in the Bullpen?
For all his struggles throughout the season, Boone Logan did an admirable job considering he was the only regular lefty in the ‘pen.
Banuelos could be another lefty reliever if he’s not made a starter, especially because of a very thin free agency class led by George Sherrill and Hideki Okajima.
3. What Will Happen with Jorge Posada and Russell Martin?
The Yankees seem eager to christen Jesus Montero as the next DH. While Posada was arguably the best Yankees hitter against the Tigers, he is going to be a 40-year-old free agent catcher who had a brutal regular season. Odds are we've seen Posada wear the pinstripes for the last time.
Martin is a different story. He is a free agent after next season, and the Yankees have Austin Romine waiting in the wings. However, Martin is a great defensive catcher and handles a pitching staff as well as anyone. Using him for a year to mentor Romine and having Romine make 30-50 starts next season would really help Romine develop.
4. Is A.J. Burnett Going to Be on the Roster All Season?
A.J. Burnett was brilliant against the Tigers. Now, odds are that he will be in the starting rotation when next season starts.
However, if Burnett struggles, it will be hard to condone him staying in the rotation all season. While he has a very unfavorable contract, he could be released or traded for an equally bad contract if it comes to that. If not, a move into the bullpen as a long reliever makes sense.
5. What Will Happen If CC Sabathia Leaves?
It’s widely known that CC Sabathia has an opt-out clause, and he intends to use it. While most people believe that Sabathia wants to stay a Yankee and the Yankees plan on giving Sabathia a deal similar to the one they offered Cliff Lee last offseason, there’s a slim chance Sabathia leaves.
If that were to happen, all hell would break lose in The Bronx. The Yankees would lose their ace, and suddenly Ivan Nova, A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes become the Yankees 1-2-3.
Re-signing Sabathia is the most important move the Yankees need to make this offseason.
6. Will We Ever See the Real a-Rod Again?
By “the real A-Rod,” I mean the guy that signed a $275 million contract. The guy who is, arguably, the most talented ball player in history.
However, a mix of old age, injuries and an awful postseason performance have led to Yankee fans calling for Rodriguez’s head. While placing all the blame on A-Rod is a bit dramatic (Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher and Sabathia were all horrid), it’s a mix of Rodriguez’s polarizing personality, record-setting contract and multiple bad postseasons that have brought Yankee fans to this conclusion.
His career .255 postseason BA as a Yankee makes you think he’s a journeyman, not someone viewed as an all-time great. His 99 games played this season show signs that his body is breaking down.
This raises another question: “If we never will see the real A-Rod again, what can the Yankees do?” The answer is “not much.” No team will want to go anywhere near Rodriguez’s contract, and even if someone did, there are no free agent third basemen available for the next couple of years.
Yankee fans will in all likelihood have to live with whatever they get from Alex Rodriguez until his contract expires…in 2018.