While the news surrounding the New York Yankees is a bit slow these days, I'd like to throw in my two cents on the starting rotation situation heading into 2012. Some of my assorted thoughts are bulleted below.
- CC Sabathia and his opt-out clause - I, like many other people, believe Sabathia will be back in pinstripes next season. When Frankie and I had the opportunity to speak with CC back in July, he bluntly stated that he loves everything about playing with the Yankees and he wishes to continue his career in New York. After all, he did just finish building a mansion in New Jersey. Everyone knows that it will likely backfire on the Yankees if CC opts out and demands more money and a contract extension. But let's be honest, Sabathia is a necessity for New York at this point and they' will pay him.
- Potential starters already with New York - Assuming that Sabathia is back, there are four spots to be filled. Whether or not you like it, A.J. Burnett will be a starting pitcher when 2012 comes around. He's due $16.5 million and there's no chance he'll be released before then. Despite the fact that he's been wildly inconsistent, he's eaten up 584.0 innings during the past three seasons and has yet to suffer any serious injury. Ivan Nova has done more than his fair share to put himself into the starting pitching rotation for the upcoming season, so that's another spot taken. Phil Hughes had an utterly disappointing 2011 campaign, experiencing dead arm to begin the season and never really regaining any of the stuff he had in 2010. His velocity began to touch mid-90s late in the season, but his pitch selection simplified tremendously. He'll be called upon to prove his worth come April.
- Killer B's - Not much to touch on here. Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos, the top two pitching prospects in the Yankees' minor league system, will need a full year at AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre to focus on location, pitch selection and velocity. These guys should not be rushed.
- (a) The free agent market - Okay, so the 2012 free agent market appears to be a bit thin. For whatever reason, C.J. Wilson appears to be the crown jewel despite only being a full-fledged starting pitcher for two years now. The Texas Rangers will certainly be high bidders in an effort to retain their homegrown talent and it likely won't be worth throwing an enormous wad of cash at him. Yu Darvish, the 25-year-old Japanese star, has posted consistently flawless numbers with the Nippon Ham Fighters over in the Japan Pacific League. How will his talents translate in America and how quickly will he be able to adapt to an entirely different baseball environment? Would he be worth a posting price as well as a steep contract?
- (b) The free agent market - While Wilson and Darvish are the dominant names, there are a few that could fly below the radar. It'll be interesting to see if Mark Buehrle ends up in Chicago again or signs elsewhere as well as what type of contract he'll receive. He's 33-years-old and remained effective last season. For the right price, he might be a viable option. Another player that could get somewhat significant attention is Edwin Jackson, seeing as he'll only be 29 next season and is productive enough to be a #4 or #5 starter (other teams will value him higher, however). Guys that could provide low risk, high reward are Chien-Ming Wang and Brandon Webb. Perhaps Freddy Garcia can be signed for another year to an incentive-laden contract?
I'll have a post up early this afternoon about taking a back seat to a spending spree this offseason.
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