The one man the Yankees were targeting for a good year is off the board. The question is: what to do next? Well, they didn't waste much time, coming to agreements with two players yesterday.
If you'll remember, Russell Martin rejected a one-year, $4.2 million offer from the Dodgers. In his place, L.A. signed former Yankee Dioner Navarro (for the second time) to a one-year, $1 million deal. The details of Martin's contract haven't been leaked yet, but it's expected to be around $5 million (he's arbitration eligible after 2011).
The Martin signing is a good one. It puts a lot less pressure on Jesus Montero to win the catching job out of Spring Training, and will allow him and the Yankees' staff to refine his defense. What worries me is what if his defense is adequate? Will he get consistent AB's with Martin catching and Posada DH'ing? There's no point in him being in the Bronx if he's only playing three games a week.
The other agreement was with Mark Prior. He hasn't pitched in the majors since 2006, and threw one minor league inning with Texas this season (in addition to an Indy League stint). There's no real downside to the move. He has an invite to ML Spring Training, and will get $750K if he makes the team with another $750K based on incentives. The Yanks only need to bring back Kerry Wood to reunite the aces and pitching coach of the 2003 (near-pennant winning) Cubs. EDIT: Prior knows he's only competing for a bullpen spot, not for the rotation.
We can expect Brian Cashman to make a number of similar moves over the coming weeks, maybe adding a couple relievers, but I don't see any big trades happening; maybe something for a mid-rotation type starter. And, of course, Andy Pettitte. Are you listening, Andy? A definitive word would be helpful.
- Despite what the New York Times says, Earl Weaver is still alive.
- I'll leave you with a telling anecdote about Cliff Lee (from Joel Sherman) -
The last time the Yankees so publicly lost for a star of this magnitude when they were bidding this high was Greg Maddux after the 1992 season. The Yankees can only hope that history repeats. Maddux went to an NL East team (Atlanta) that went to the playoffs annually and won a World Series in 1995. But the Yankees have not had a losing season since 1993 even without Maddux and ended up the dynasty of the late-1990s that everyone expected the Braves to be.
They did this because their farm system produced great players (Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte) and the club made shrewd trades (David Cone, Tino Martinez, Paul O'Neill). Can the Yankees do it again?
Obviously that's a tall order, but they have the organizational talent to do so.