Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Movin' N Groovin'


Brian Cashman and the Yankees braintrust have begun their offseason moves and so far it looks like the beginnings of a youth movement. The Yankees shipped Gary Sheffield and all of his bitching and moaning off to Detroit for three young pitchers. And they also sent Jaret Wright to Baltimore in return for another young reliever. I'm very sure that this is going to be a busy offseason for the GM and that this is just the beginning.

The Yankees have apparently lost out to the Red Sox in their bid to land Matsuzaka from Japan. The Red Sox bid a reported $42 million in order to secure the rights to negotiate a contract with the right handed gyroball throwing ace. It seems like an insane amount of money considering the contract that will be required to land him. The deal will almost certainly end up costing the Red Sox somewhere north of $100 million. They feel that getting a foothold in Japan will help them with their marketing and also they have a great need for front line pitching and felt that he was worth the potential investment. I am patiently awaiting the columns condemning the Red Sox for spending that kind of money. I know that if the Yankees had won the bidding the press would have been lining up to bemoan the fact that the Yankees are the only team that could afford to spend that kind of cash and how it's a shame that no one else can compete with them. I'm waiting.

The Yankees starting staff is a little depleted. With both Randy Johnson and Carl Pavano question marks heading into next years spring training, the Yankees only have Wang and Mussina penciled into the starting rotation. They will probably be big players in a very shallow field of available free agent starters. Barry Zito is the biggest prize remaining, but he is probably going to command a huge number to get him on board. I personally don't think he's worth it. His K/BB ratio has been going down for years and outside of the first two years of his career, he has basically been a .500 pitcher. It seems like a stretch for me to think that they Yankees would invest $75 million+ for a pitcher with those kinds of numbers. The Yankees are going to have to get creative in order to fill out the staff, but I have no doubt that Cashman will get it done. The Yankees certainly have options within the organization as both Jeff Karstens and Darell Rasner showed themselves to be servicable major leaguers down the stretch this year. And there is alway the looming shadow of Phillip Hughes who may be up with the club as early as mid season.

The Yankees have freed up some salary at this point. They are going to resign Mussina for about $6 million less than they were due to pay him under his previous contract and trading Sheffield saves them another $13 million. Various other expiring contracts puts them about $23 million under what they spent last year. They clearly don't need another bat in the lineup, although some right handed power might serve them well now that they don't have Sheffield to balance out the lineup. The key is going to be pitching. Since they most likely won't be able to get a #1 starter, they are going to have look for pitchers who can give them quality innings. The offense is still plenty potent enough to score 900+ runs, so the pitching does not have to be the best in the league. You really just never know what you're going to get out of people. Look at Aaron Small for example. Two years ago he comes out of nowhere to post a 10-0 record with a 3.20 ERA and basically saved the Yankees season. Last year he goes 0-3 with an ERA over eight. It's really just impossible to tell what's going to happen until the pitchers get out there on the mound. Kenny Rogers and Jeff Weaver are also prime examples of that.

I'm sure that Cash is not happy about losing out to the Red Sox, but hopefully he'll be able to make do with what's available. I have complete faith that come April the Yankees will field a team that is more than capable of winning the World Series. Of course they've done that for the past six years and haven't won but tomorrow is a new day and hope springs eternal (although, to tell you the truth, I wouldn't mind seeing the Padres win, if the Yankees don't).

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