Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Morning After

Now that the baseball off-season is upon us (at least upon those of us that are Yankee fans), the task of assessing the past season and deciding what 2008 has in store is at hand. I've already written about what I thought of the season and the team, but there are a lot of choices to made for the Yankees going forward. Let's look at the team position by position:


Jorge Posada had a career year at the age of 36, it didn't hurt that it came during a contract year. Jose Molina provided the Yankees with the first solid back up work since Posada's early years. The Yankees have no choice but to resign Posada. They don't have a big league ready catcher in the minors and there are no attractive free agent choices. Posada has said that he would test the free agent waters, but he really has no desire to leave the Bronx and the Yankees have no desire to see him leave. Catchers usually stop being productive in their mid thirties, but the Yankees have no choice but to sign Posada to a three year contract in the $40 million dollar range. Molina probably wants to be an everyday catcher somewhere, so I don't think the Yankees are going to be able to keep him happy. It looks like they will once again be searching for a competent back up to Posada.

First Base:

Doug Menkekeldlwyzt provided a solid glove and better bat than anticipated at first (although I still think he's best suited as a defensive replacement). Giambi suffered through an injury plagued year and thankfully for the Yankees, 2008 is the last year of his monstrous contract. Also Andy Phillips and Wilson Betament played some first base during the year. The first base situation is really dependent on the Arod situation at third. First is traditionally a power position, but Doug Mendkzekewltz doesn't provide much power. Giambi , when healthy, can provide power, but his defense is more than a little suspect. If Arod is on the team, the Yankees can afford to give up some power at the position, if he's not, then they really need someone to pick up the offensive slack. I know Giambi is going to be on the team in '08, I'm just not sure who else will be joining him.

Second Base:

Robinson Cano overcame a horrible start to hit over .300 again and drive in almost 100 runs. His defense is at times spectacular and at times it looks like he's not really paying attention. Overall though, I think he's one of the better second basemen in the league and he provides the Yankees with a young position player who can anchor the lineup for years to come. He's a number three hitter in the making.


Derek Jeter was slowed by injuries this year and his usual stellar base running suffered. His range on defense, which has never been great, was even worse this year. His numbers were down from his "should have been MVP" year, but he still scored 100 runs and hit .320. I expect him to bounce back some next year and at least improve his stolen base percentage.

Third Base:

Probably the biggest question mark the Yankees have this offeseason besides Joe Torre is Arod. He can opt out of his contract 10 days after the end of the World Series and his agent Scott Boras and the Yankees will be playing a high stakes game of poker until then. Boras has already floated stories in the press about possible ownership being offered and the staggering figure of $400 million as a possibility. This is really going to come down to whether Arod wants to stay in NY or go somewhere else. I'm sure the Yankees will make him a very lucrative offer (in the $225-$250 million range), so money isn't going to be the issue. Arod has to decide whether he wants to establish his legacy here or not. I still don't know the answer to that one. If were betting on this, I'd say that he signs with the Yankees at 11:59 PM, one minute before the opt out date.

Right Field:

Bobby Abreu, like Cano overcame a horrendous start to post very good numbers. He never got his average above .300, but he did drive in and score over 100 runs. The Yankees have a $16 million option for next year and so they can decide his fate. If the Yankees were to go out and get a center fielder, say Aaron Rowand, I believe that they would let Abreu walk. If they can get Rowland for about $10 million a year, then they could move Melky to RF, improve their defense and save some money. Abreu is a former Gold Glove winner, but in NY he has always seemed to shy away from the walls. He has a good arm, but his range is very limited. In my opinion, the Yankees would be better off getting a cheaper CF and letting Bobby go.

Center Field:

Melky Cabrera established himself as the Yankees CF'er early in season. He also got off to a very slow start, but was a big part of the Yankee resurgence in the second half. He's got a great arm and good range. He's not the most natural CF'er in the game, but he did lead all CF'ers in the majors in outfield assists. I think the team would be best served by moving him to Right Field. He certainly has a RF'ers arm and if he could begin to develop more power, I think he could be fixture out there for many years.

Left Field:

Matsui had a very streaky year at the plate, but did end up with numbers that were fairly representative of his career (25HRs, 100 runs, 100 rbi's). The Yankees began using Johnny Damon in LF on a daily basis as the year wore on and unless they are able to trade Damon, I believe that Matsui will become for the most part, a full time DH. That would mean that Giambi would have to play first to get into the lineup. Perhaps Matsui, Damon and Giambi will become something of a rotating threesome between the three positions. For 2008, I suspect that Damon will get the majority of the time in the LF.

Starting Rotation:

The Yankees have Mussina, Hughes, Kennedy, Chamberlin and Igawa under contract for next year. I'm pretty sure that Clemens won't be back, but I'm thinking that Pettite will exercise his $16 million option and return. That leaves someone out of the mix in the rotation. I happen to think that Kei Igawa can be an effective starter in the majors. He clearly has the ability to strike hitters out (7.1K per 9), but he had control issues. If they can be fixed then I think he might turn out to be a serviceable starting pitcher. It would be a mistake to give up on him, because the Yankees will be relying on three very young pitchers to take the ball every fifth day. While each has shown this year that they can get hitters out, it would be wise to have other options in case they fail to reproduce the work they did in '07. I'm actually pretty excited to see what the Yankees can do with a rotation that would be 80% home grown.


Rivera was his usual self after a shaky April. He's still one of the best closers in baseball, even if he's not as automatic as he used to be. I don't think the Yankees have a better option. He's been making some noise in the press about maybe not coming back if the Yankees chose not to bring Joe Torre back, but I don't think that's the case. It would take a mind boggling offer from another team to pry him away from the only team he's ever pitched for. The Yankees bullpen problems are with their set up men. Vizciano did a good job, but then got tired in September. Kyle Farnsworth went through a stretch were he seemed to give up at least a run in every appearance. Chamberlin was spectacular, but he'll be on the starting staff. The Yankees really need to look to the free agents to try and fill what appears to be to me, their biggest weakness.

So that's it for the position by position breakdown. I don't see a whole lot of change, except in the outfield. Every year I make suggestions to Brian Cashman about what to do with the team and every year he ignores me. This year will be no different.



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