New York Yankees: 10 Big Questions That Still Need to Be Answered
It's almost January already, with pitchers and catchers ready to meet in more than one month. But the New York Yankees still haven't answered all the questions that were surrounding their team after the culmination of 2011.
With a quiet offseason, the Yankees haven't done what many expected them to do and plug the holes they needed to plug.
Here are the 10 biggest questions that the Bronx Bombers are still facing.
Can Alex Rodriguez Stay Healthy?
It's nice to see that Alex Rodriguez is being proactive with his bad knees and trying to improve their health, as opposed to sitting back, collecting his paycheck and allowing his physical condition to deteriorate.
After receiving advice from Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, A-Rod went to Germany to have an experimental surgery in order to fix his ailing knee.
It certainly couldn't hurt considering the injury issues he's had the past few seasons, and hopefully for the Yanks it'll help A-Rod get through the six remaining years on his contract.
Where Will Jesus Montero Play?
I would have expected Jesus Montero to play some winter ball during the offseason in order to work on playing another position. Instead, Montero was told not to play during the winter and will enter spring training with only catching experience under his belt.
Montero's defense has been criticized since he's been coming up through the Yanks' farm system, and it's going to be important for him to learn another position.
The Yanks can't allow their DH to be taken up every game, as they will need it open for their aging stars, like A-Rod and Derek Jeter to name a few.
Is This Starting Rotation Enough?
The Yanks will enter 2012 with the same rotation they had in 2011, minus Bartolo Colon's eight wins.
It was unthinkable after the completion of last season that the Yanks wouldn't improve upon their starting pitching, but that has become the reality as they have been looking to cut payroll.
So General Manager Brian Cashman didn't sign any of the risky starters in the free-agent market and refused every trade that he was offered for some of his top prospects.
Only time will tell if the Yanks can repeat the 97-win season, or something close to that, with the same rotation.
Who Will Be This Year's Bartolo Colon?
In the last slide, I mentioned the Yanks would be bringing back the same rotation as last season, minus Colon. His incredible season resulted in eight wins for the Bombers rotation that will need to be replaced.
If healthy, Phil Hughes will replace Colon and should be able to win somewhere between 10 to 13 games at least during a full season. You also have to figure that if A.J. Burnett can show up four or five more times in 2012, he could improve upon the 11 wins he managed to scrape up during last season.
If both of those scenarios happen, New York should have no problem replacing those wins. It's doubtful they'll find another diamond in the rough like Colon; but certainly have two pitchers who could become as big a surprise as he was in 2011.
However, if both don't work out, don't rule out Cash finding another player off the scrap heap as he's proven he has a knack of doing so.
Will Yankees Trade Their Top Prospects?
The question all offseason has been if the Yankees would trade their top young players.
We've heard the names of Eduardo Nunez, Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos and Montero all mentioned in trade talks. All of these talks have fallen flat and all these players still remain with the organization.
If one thing is clear, it's that Cashman will not trade them for just any starter. It'll take a very special pitcher to pry these guys away from New York.
But if an offer with that type of starter comes along, will Cashman have the guts to pull the trigger and take a chance trading away promising young talent?
Who Will Be the Yanks Bat off the Bench?
A guy like Andruw Jones might be overlooked on a team like the Yankees, but his 13 home runs and 33 RBI in 2011 can't be minimized in any way.
It's important to have that type of production off your bench as a pinch hitter or spot starter during the season, giving your everyday starters days off to rest.
Is Cutting Payroll More Important Than Improving the Team?
It's no longer a doubt in the minds of Yankees fans, the team is cutting payroll in order to avoid paying a luxury tax.
I can't definitively say that the Bombers lack of moves in the offseason is a result of this considering the unsure market that existed this offseason.
We'll have to see if the Yanks have an expensive choice to improve their team, namely the rotation, but decide cutting payroll will win out over such a move. If that's the case, it'll be a harsh reality check for New York's fan base that George Steinbrenner is truly gone.
Will the Yankees Sign Yoenis Cespedes?
I believe the Yankees will not make the move to sign Yoenis Cespedes. In the outfield, they already have Nick Swisher, who is certain to put up 25 home runs and 80 RBI.
Why would they trade that for an uncertainty in Cespedes? There is clearly no guarantee he will work out in the MLB.
That being said, it's even less probable the Yanks will add Cespedes in place of Brett Gardner. Again, the team is looking to cut payroll, while Cespedes will command $10 to $12 million per season. That is much more than what Gardner is making.
I don't want to count my chickens before they hatch, so I'll leave this as a remaining question for New York.
Where Will Joba Chamberlain Play Next Season?
After going under the knife for Tommy John surgery, Joba Chamberlain will try to once again find his niche on the team.
With the seventh and eighth inning roles already taken by Rafael Soriano and David Robertson, Chamberlain could fit one of two roles:
1. Sixth-inning role, shortening games to five innings for the starter
2. Starting pitcher
I would say the bullpen is most likely for Chamberlain, but don't rule out a chance in the rotation. If Chamberlain can come back to a mess of a starting rotation, which is certainly possible, he could find himself with another chance to be a starter.
That being said, it does look pretty attractive to have the ability to shorten a game to five innings if all goes well in that kind of equation. If Chamberlain is effective, he would give the Bombers unimaginable depth in their bullpen.
Is This a Team That Can Win a World Series?
I think this is a team who can win a World Series, although I'm probably in the minority with that thought process.
Don't forget that the Bombers did win 97 games and the AL East last season, and it was their offense, not their pitching, that was the reason they didn't advance past the ALDS.
Had a few things bounced their way in 2011, they could've been on their way to an ALCS and a possible World Series.
This team isn't that far off; but once again, only time will tell if they have what it takes to go all the way.