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The Need for a Lackey

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The focus of last offseason, and of every offseason since Clemens and Pettitte bolted to Houston, has been pitching.

It has always been pitching, it should always be pitching.

So while all the Yankee talk I read and hear revolves around Damon v. Matsui, I'm not really worried about either.  I'd make both of them an offer of 1 year $9M.  If either or both accept, welcome back, and if not, I would look at Nady or Reed Johnson.  And a trade remains a possibility.

But I'm worried about starting pitching.  The Rays aren't as formidable as they looked last offseason, but they'll still be very tough.  The Red Sox rotation has one more year to give me a headache.

I don't know if Andy will be back.  A championship has been his reason for returning each of the last 3 years, and I suspect he's watched Mike Mussina's ride into the sunset and contrasted it with the unenviable final seasons of Smoltz, Glavine, and Rocket.

I expect Joba to be better and to pitch without a lease.  

I expect Phil Hughes to begin the innings-building dance Joba performed this season.

I will always be nervous about counting on AJ Burnett; 1 successful season down, 4 to go.  I want a solid backup plan, and right now I'm not sure that Sergio Mitre (who has an option that should be exercised) or Al Aceves are sufficient, especially with Hughes and Chamberlain already in the rotation.  Wang might be back in August, if the Yankees don't get stupid and forget to offer him a contract.

So I'm looking for a 200 inning starter to replace or augment Andy Pettitte.

The quick answer is John Lackey, who has maintained a 1.2 WHIP and 7K/9 for the last several seasons.  He's younger than AJ, and while not a traditional ace, he is a great pitcher.  There's not a lot of other (relatively) sure things out there.  Rich Harden?  Jason Marquis?

Unless Cashman sees an opening in the trade market, or he is sure that Andy is coming back, I think the Yankees need to be in on the bidding for John Lackey.