After two straight disappointing seasons, the New York Yankees have to improve their team.
This process will not be finished this offseason, but it will be a start. In order to compete for a World Series in 2012, Brian Cashman is going to have to be bold and he is going to have to be willing to trade some of his prized young players.
Let's see what Cashman and the Yankees should do this offseason.
.333/.424/.667, 1.091 OPS, 33 HRs, 99 RBI in 90 games
The 26-year-old, if you trust his birth certificate, Cuban defector is a sensational player who can make a big impact in the majors. He recently released an amazing 20-minute video showcasing his talents. You can watch it here.
Cespedes is said to be a rare five-tool players, which is a player who excels at hitting for average, power, baserunning/speed, throwing ability and fielding.
If the Yankees can sign Cespedes, and he pans out, he will be the steal of the offseason because he will cost only somewhere between $8 million and $10 million per year over five years.
The Yankees are reportedly scouting him in the Dominican Republic this week so that is a step in the right direction.
.260/.374/.449/.822, 23 HR, 85 RBI, 125 K, 95 BB, 2 SB
If the Yankees sign Cespedes, then Nick Swisher becomes a $10.25 million fourth outfielder, not a great value.
If I were the Yankees the first team I would call would be the Atlanta Braves. They are in need of a power-hitting outfielder and are rumored to be shopping their ace, Jair Jurrjens. A package of Swisher, Eduardo Nunez, David Phelps and Slade Heathcott would make the Braves listen.
If that trade falls through there are other pitchers who could potentially be traded.
Picthers like Tim Lincecum, Josh Johnson and Gio Gonzalez would be expensive, but they would probably be worth it.
If the Yankees trade for Jair Jurrjens, then the chance of a trade for one of the pitchers above would decrease. But this is the Yankees, and if they want to improve their rotation significantly they can do it.
Tim Lincecum would be at the top of my wish list, and since he has declined to sign a contract extension with the Giants he might be put on the trade block. If this happens the Yankees would be able to form the best package of players. My guess is a trade like this would take Jesus Montero, Dellin Betances, Phil Hughes and Austin Romine.
In return the Yankees would be getting a 27-year-old two-time Cy Young winner. Lincecum has also already won a ring and has posted a 2.43 postseason ERA so he will be fine in New York.
146.2 IP, 12-8, 3.62 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 96 K, 45 BB
Freddy Garcia, along with Bartolo Colon, were huge surprises in 2011, but Freddy Garcia, unlike Colon, did not wear down in the last few months.
Garcia has shown that despite his "junk-ball" label he can pitch in New York, and at a one-year deal for $2 to $3 million the Yankees should bring him back to help fill out the rotation.
232.0 IP, 18-6, 1.44 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 276 K, 35 BB
I like Yu Darvish. He is unfairly compared to Igawa and Matsuzaka, but at the same time some team will drop a $50 million bid for his posting fee. The Yankees cannot afford (figuratively speaking) to pay that much for an unknown pitcher.
Most people believe that the switch from Japan to the majors is difficult for pitchers because the hitters are so much better, but I think it has to do with the ball. In Japan the ball is smaller and has less prominent seams, that's like having Ray Allen switch to a basketball that is bigger and has bigger seams. He just would not be the same shooter.
Darvish will be a good pitcher in the majors, but the Yankees should not invest $100-plus million to obtain him.
223.1 IP, 16-7, 2.94 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 206 K, 74 BB
CJ Wilson is already 31 years old and would guarantee a large contract because he is the best pitcher currently on the market.
While Wilson has showed he is a very capable regular season pitcher, he posted a 31-15 record, 376 K and a 3.14 ERA in 427.1 innings of work over the last two seasons. He also struggled during the postseason by going 0-3 with a 5.79 ERA in October 2011.
Age and postseason failures should get the Yankees out of the running for Wilson. If a pitcher cannot perform in the postseason he should not be paid like an ace.
The Yankees have two of the best pitching prospects, Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos, in the majors.
Although they both have control issues, their talent is undeniable. Both Betances and Banuelos were moved to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season, with Betances even getting moved up to the majors. While their stats do not show it, they impressed.
Last spring training, Manny Banuelos had a 2.20 ERA and was called the greatest pitching prospect he had ever seen by Mariano Rivera.
Dellin Betances, on the other hand, threw two scoreless innings in his first start in the majors against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Both are impressive young pitchers, and while they may not start the season in the majors, I expect them to be called up and make an impact when rosters expand. They should make a big impact in September and October.
Sadly, it is time for Jorge Posada to retire.
Posada has said that he will not be back in New York, but he has been given offers from a few teams. I hope Posada retires and ends his career as a Yankee, but if he wants to join another team for one last year I would understand. The Yankees cannot get nostalgic and try to match offers from other teams, because Posada's time has run out.
.237/.324/.408, .732 OPS, 18 HR, 65 RBI, 81 K, 50 BB, 8 SB
Russell Martin was brought in to New York just last offseason and it paid off.
Martin immediately became the Yankees starting catcher. He was an upgrade at the plate over Jorge Posada, but his main contribution came from behind the plate. Martin was an excellent defensive catcher, throwing out 29.6 percent of base stealers and he helped the pitchers out. With Martin behind the plate Yankees' pitchers posted a 3.70 ERA, which is very good.
Martin is entering his final year of arbitration so he should be back as long as Cashman does not just let him walk.
This move happened at the end of last season and in the playoffs. You could say it went well, Robinson Cano hit two home runs against Detroit in the ALCS and kept the Yankees in the series.
If Girardi knows what is best for the Yankees, Cano should stay at third in the batting order and Mark Teixeira should move down to fifth with Alex Rodriguez hitting clean-up.