The bottom line for New York Yankees' fans is a world championship. The bottom line for New York Yankees' management is the bottom line on the profits sheet.
Of course the Yankees are competitive. Anything less would affect the bottom line negatively. That is fine for other teams. Making the playoffs defines a positive season. That is not enough for Yankees' fans. It has become enough for Hal Steinbrenner.
General manager Brian Cashman has his orders. He is not going to wander far from the Yankees' suite at the winter meetings, writes Brian Hoch of mlb.com.
The propaganda the Yankees feed their fans is an insult.
When asked what is his first priority, Cashman responds with the company line, "pitching, pitching, pitching," noting that hanging on to C.C. Sabathia has already made the offseason a success.
It is undeniable that signing Sabathia to a new deal was vital. The bottom line is that Sabathia's great 2011 season was not enough.
Signing Freddy Garcia isn't an upgrade from last year's pitching staff. It is disingenuous for anyone to claim it is anything more than treading water. It is also keeping costs to a minimum.
Hoch writes that with Garcia, the Yankees have five starting pitchers, with A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova all set to return. Does the fact that Burnett and Hughes returning breed confidence?
Sabathia more than holds his own with Andy Pettitte, David Wells, David Cone and El Duque, but the drop off from Sabathia to Garcia is enormous. Pettitte, Wells, Cone and Hernandez were all aces.
How do Burnett, Hughes, Nova (who is the most reliable pitcher after C.C.) and Garcia compare to them?
There is no free agent pitcher who will be worth the money it will cost to sign him, with one possible exception. C.J. Wilson showed his "stuff" this past October. The Yankees should hope that a contending team signs him so they can face him in the playoffs.
Mark Buehrle is another story. Buehrle, who will be 33 years old, is Tommy John. Like John, he is a crafty left-hander who makes up for not being overpowering by keeping the hitters off balance. He is a winner who has pitched a no-hitter as well as a perfect game—shades of David Wells and David Cone.
In 1980, Tommy John won 22 games as the Yankees won the division but were knocked off in the playoffs by Kansas City. The problem was that the Yankees lacked reliable starters after John. It was similar to how it is today.
Ron Guidry had a pedestrian season, Tom Underwood was a left-handed Freddy Garcia and Luis Tiant was no longer fooling anyone. Dick Howser didn't give Rudy May enough starts.
By signing Buehrle, the Yankees will give Sabathia what John lacked. Buehrle will not dominate, but he is reliable and would give the Yankees the starting pitcher they sorely lacked last season.
If the Yankees' management really wanted to win, they would obtain a reliable starter to follow Sabathia.