Sabathia and Posada may have different fates for 2012.
The New York Yankees are fresh off of a disappointing finish to a promising 2011 season, and are looking to reload for another championship run in 2012. To do so, they will have to figure out what changes, if any, will be needed to make the push for their 28th championship.
They have many options, from signing a big free agent, to trading for a front-line pitcher, to letting a big player go. Here are 10 decisions the Yankees will make over the winter and into the spring that will make the 2012 title a legitimate possibility.
A great run must end for Posada.
It was a tough 2011 for Jorge Posada, a year that took him from a prominent Yankee to an outsider looking for a spot on a prestigious lineup. He nearly quit the team one night against the Boston Red Sox, but managed to keep his head clear and stick it out for the rest of the season.
Though his year was thought of as atrocious, Posada managed to scrap his way to a .235 average, nearly 40 points below his career mark. His postseason was strong after winning a spot, but unfortunately, it won’t be enough to bring him back for one more year.
Unlike free agents and big names this offseason, Posada has not been contacted about another season in the Bronx and probably won’t be this winter. Posada wants to play and wants to be a Yankee, and there isn’t enough room for both of those things to happen. It’s been a great ride, Posada, but it’s time to say goodbye.
Buehrle has been very consistent in MLB for a decade.
Very few pitchers have been as consistent and reliable as Chicago White Sox starter Mark Buehrle in the last decade. Since 2001, the 32-year-old lefty has thrown 200 innings in each season, and only managed one losing record (2006, 12-13).
Now a free agent, Buehrle will most likely move from the Windy City, whose teams have for the most part been treading water since their dominant 2005 World Series run. A perfect fit would be pitching with CC Sabathia, beginning the second half of his career with just as consistent a winning team as Buehrle has been for 10 seasons. Come 2012, he will be wearing New York pinstripes.
Wilson will be the second Ranger in two consecutive seasons to refuse a Yankee contract.
If Mark Buehrle will accept a deal, Texas Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson will refuse the offer Brian Cashman will inevitably give him. The storm is just too great for Wilson to leave.
First of all, the team has been more than successful, making two straight World Series appearances and was just one strike from winning their first-ever title. Also, Nolan Ryan has built a team he intends to keep, paying big money for big players over the last few years. It will be more likely that Wilson will deny the Yankees, like Cliff Lee did, and sign with the Rangers again.
Rivera's reign will end after the 2012 season.
The greatest reliever in history will have to stop someday, and this winter we will find out that it will be after the 2012 season. Rivera is a man of honor and class, so announcing that he will walk away prior to doing so is the responsible thing to do.
Rivera is still extremely effective, but is not the dominant, unstoppable closer he once was, and will continue to decline over the course of the next season. This announcement will allow the team to formulate the replacement plan, one that likely includes emerged star David Robertson.
Soriano was a relative disappointment in 2011.
One of the worst contracts the Yankees have given out was to reliever Rafael Soriano, who will be owed $25 million over the next two seasons to essentially pitch the seventh inning. When Joba Chamberlain returns from surgery, he may even lose that position.
After a large failure and injuries in the first half of 2011, Soriano managed to pitch well enough to raise his stock high enough to have some value. Many teams could use his arm, allowing the Yankees to deal him away and get rid of the money they are wasting on him in the bullpen. It could help them get a very valuable piece of the puzzle, be it a good bat or another lefty in the bullpen.
Soriano did not seem to want to play in pinstripes, even though he started to say the right things in the second half of the year. Maybe it’s time the Yankees grant him that wish.
Beltran's bat could be very valuable for the Yankees.
After being dealt to the San Francisco Giants near 2011’s trade deadline, 35-year-old Carlos Beltran will be looking for what might be his final home. The Bronx may be a very suitable location. His legs have betrayed him over the years, crippling him from being the superstar that the 2004 postseason showed he could be.
If he became a Yankee, he could easily play DH, left field and right field, and could be the best player on the team at all three of those positions. He is a better hitter than Nick Swisher as a switch-hitter, and has much more power and ability than Brett Gardner. Beltran can also hold his own in the outfield, allowing the Yankees many options with him. He’d be a great fit in a city he learned to play in and handled very well.
Hernandez has been one of the best pitchers in baseball, hidden in obscurity in Seattle.
There are no rumors of Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez moving anywhere, but if there’s one team that can package a deal to get him, it’s the Yankees. They have enough players and prospects to pull off a deal that even the stubborn-to-retain Mariners can’t refuse.
If the Yankees offered Phil Hughes, Jesus Montero and cash, it would be very difficult for the Mariners to turn the offer down. A proven pitcher and a promising slugger, both of whom have not reached their prime, is the perfect duo for any up-and-coming team. But the Yankees need King Felix more than the Mariners. Yes, he’s a stud in the great Northwest, but he struggles to crack .500 with such an awful supporting cast.
It’s time for the Yankees to get what the need, a move that would put them over the top for the 2012 season, and many years to come.
Ortiz may be on the move after a legendary career in Boston.
With an epic collapse for the 2011 Red Sox, one of historic proportions in September, the team imploded, with departures from Terry Francona and Theo Epstein, masterminds that brought Boston two World Series titles in the last eight years, their first titles in over eight decades. The clubhouse began to collapse as well, with allegations of drinking alcohol in the locker room before games, and even during them.
Players may look to depart, and where better to go than to their hated rival if they’re looking for a fresh start? Maybe it will be a trade for Jon Lester, the ace who was part of the beer-drinking culture, or could be David Ortiz. Regardless, someone from the Red Sox of 2011 will be on the 2012 Yankees.
Cano has become one the best players in baseball.
As of the past two years, second baseman Robinson Cano has become the Yankees’ best player. He has laid down consistently great regular-season numbers, and answered questions of poor postseason performances with a breakout ALDS against the Tigers.
He is owed just $13 million for 2012, and another team option for 2013. But it’s time for Cano to get his money, and this offseason will be the time to do it. They will obviously pick up his option, but they cannot risk letting him walk away after 2013. Granted, the chances of that happening are very low, but if the possibility exists, the problem does too.
It will cost the Yankees much more than $13 million a year, but it’s worth it to keep one of the game’s greatest players.
Enormous contracts and lengthy legacies will weigh the team down for years to come.
All of these moves would improve their team, but they won’t solve the existing problem of age on the Yankees. They are weighed down by enormous contracts, aging superstars and loyalty, and until they break away from those, they will hope and pray to get into October and succeed.