I read Brandon's 'Do's And Don'ts' post with interest Sunday morning. He raises most of the critical issues facing the Yankees this offseason, makes some good points and, I think, some that are way off the mark.
I'm going to go through Brandon's list and give you my take on each of his points. Some places I think he's right on target, other places I think he's swung and missed by a mile. So, let's have a go at this, shall we?
1. Do whatever it takes to bring back Andy Pettitte -- Sure, this would be nice. But, sooner or later Pettitte is going to retire. He doesn't need the money, and he has done just about everything there is to do in the game. Sure, the Yankees would love to have him back, but this one is not going to be up to them. This one is up to whatever Pettitte's heart tells him to do. My guess is he is finished.
2. Acquire some kind of pitcher -- Sorry, but 'some kind of pitcher' is not going to get it done. Javier Vazquez was 'some kind of pitcher.' Carl Pavano was 'some kind of pitcher.' Geesh, Sidney Ponson and Kei Igawa were 'some kind of pitcher.' The Yankees absolutely do not need that. They need a front-line guy, and the obvious choice is Cliff Lee. Are you telling me you can't look at what just happened this postseason and see what kind of difference it would have made if Lee was a Yankee and not a Texas Ranger? If so, maybe you need to visit the eye doctor. The Yankees don't need 'some kind of pitcher,' especially if Pettitte retires. They need a big-time one to add to the rotation, one that was just brutal in the playoffs in case you didn't notice. CC Sabathia can't keep doing what he has done the past few years forever. If the Yankees can get Lee, they absolutely have to do that. If you can't get Lee, you do something else. But, you have to try.
3. Keep the coaching staff intact -- This is how it is going to go down. Love Joe Girardi or hate him, just deal with it. He is coming back, and he deserves to. Girardi made some mistakes in the postseason, but he is a good manager and he will return. So will, Dave Eiland and any other coach who wants to. I actually hope Tony Pena lands a job managing somewhere, not because I want him gone but because he deserves one.
4. Keep the outfield intact -- Listen, I like all three of these guys. But, are you telling me there is no place on this team for a Carl Crawford or a Jayson Werth? You absolutely have to be kidding me with that assertion. Swisher hit .289 this season, the first time in his career he has hit above .262. He is a .252 career hitter, and he is more likely to return to that level than to stay at .289. Plus, he isn't exactly a ballerina in the outfield.
5. Get Lance Berkman/Kerry Wood type bargains -- Well, isn't this the goal every year? You get into the season, figure out what holes you have and try to acquire veteran help that a) won't cause you to give up a whole lot in terms of prospects and b) won't cost you ridiculous coin for just a couple of months. These, by the way, were mid-season acquisitions. Talking about these moves is sort of putting the cart (in-season trades) before the horse (off-season building of a team).
Speaking of Wood, best guess is he would love to get himself a nice, fat contract to close somewhere. Still, I think GM Brian Cashman needs to find out what the asking price is and try to bring Wood back. He's better than anything else the Yankees have setting up Mariano Rivera.
1. Do Anything Involving A.J. Burnett -- Hey, I really don't think this is going to be an issue. I seriously doubt anyone is going to be beating down Cashman's door in an effort to acquire Burnett, who will be 34 next season. He is coming off an awful 10-15, 5.26 season and still has three years and $49.5 million coming to him from the deal he signed with the Yankees before the 2009 season. No one is going to want him. Still, if someone asks it certainly can't hurt to see what is being offered.
2. Make any rash decisions on the bullpen -- This I agree with. Sort of. I'm also not that worried about it. Bullpens are the hardest things in baseball to construct since the performance of relievers can vary so wildly from season to season. The Yankees have a lot of arms to choose from, a lot of resources to make a Wood-type move at some point if they need to. I hate spending big money in the offseason on free-agent middle relievers. It rarely works well. As for Joba ... oh, boy. I knew it wouldn't be long before somebody brought up the idea of putting him back in the rotation. You know what? He's a decent starter, no more. If you want 'some kind of pitcher,' stick him in the rotation. You want a big-time quality starter? Joba's not it. After what truthfully amounts to two disappointing seasons for Chamberlain I think the Yankees can't shut the door on listening to offers. If a package of Joba and prospects brings back an established starting pitcher (and I'm not at all sure it would) the Yankees have to consider that.
3. Go crazy trying to get younger -- Well, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are still going to Yankees next season. CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Pettitte (if he doesn't retire) aren't going to get younger. The only way to 'go crazy trying to get younger' is to tell Jeter, Mo and Posada to take a hike, and that is not happening. The Yankees need good players, I don't really care if they are 22 or 42, though younger is nice if they can do it in a couple of spots.
4. Make any moves like getting Nick Johnson -- No question this was a mistake by Cashman. Johnson did exactly what history said he would do -- get hurt. Still, Johnson was really a one-year stop gap signing that helped give the Yankees payroll flexibility to go after Lee, Crawford, Werth or whoever they target this offseason. Cashman gambled and lost, short-term.
5. Panic -- The Boss is gone, and Hank Steinbrenner isn't running the show, either. Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner don't do things that way. They will have a plan, and they will do their best to execute it. A World Series title and an appearance in the ALCS in the last two seasons is pretty darn good. At some point you have to trust that these guys do know what they are doing, even if they make a mistake occasionally.