The most dangerous words a writer can utter to New York Yankees fans is to "be patient." Well, for the 2011-early 2012 off-season, that is what the Yankees need to do.
Simply put, the Yankees management should put their 100% effort into winning the 2012 World Series, but should not make unnecessary moves based off of panic about not winning the World Series in two seasons.
Keeping in mind both patience and the desire to win, here is my updated plan for the Yankees off-season.
-The Yankees should avoid C.J. Wilson no matter what.
Wilson is likely to receive a deal similar to A.J. Burnett's 5 year $82 million deal that the Yankees gave him back in '08 off-season. Burnett was definitely not worth the money, and C.J. Wilson is no different. Wilson notoriously has trouble finding the strike zone, and in the AL East that problem will be magnified. Wilson's post-season numbers are troubling, and the lefty has said multiple times he does not enjoy pitching in cold weather.
The Yankees do not have to overpay for C.J. Wilson just because he is one of the top two pitching free agents in an off-season that their pitching depth is questionable. The other top free agent is....
-Yu Darvish should be pursued, but not given a massive contract.
The posting fee does not matter much, as I do not believe it counts towards the luxury tax. The argument has been made repeatedly that Darvish is pitching against AAAA hitters at best, but that is not a concern, as he has shut down hitters in the World Baseball Classic, and has impressed American scouts. Still, I do not want the Yankees to overpay for Darvish. I am willing to give Darvish a 5 year $60 million deal, and am willing to listen to arguments that the Yankees should give more/less to Darvish. Darvish is certainly an intriguing case.
According to some fans, however, the Yankees should give Darvish any amount of money if the Yankees top pitcher opts out of his contract. That pitcher is...
-CC Sabathia should not be given more than a five year contract under any circumstances.
I have heard many times that the Yankees should simply give CC Sabathia a blank check because of the Yankees' pitching depth problems, but I could not disagree any more. The Yankees should never sign a player to an unreasonable deal just because they have a need at that position. A deal can always be worked out with another player or another team (in a trade) that suits the team better.
I am willing to give CC a five year deal worth approximately $115 million over five years, which would be adding one year to his current contract, but that is it. The Yankees need to save their money for the rest of my plan, which is...
-The Yankees should pick up Nick Swisher's option, spend on bench and compliment players, and either make a trade this off-season, wait until the 2012 Trade Deadline, or wait until after the 2012 season to get another pitcher.
To me, picking up Swisher's option is a no brainer. The only other right field options are a platoon, or signing Carlos Beltran. I do not see why the Yankees would let Swisher go and settle for a platoon, and I especially do not see why the Yankees would pick an older, injury prone option in Beltran over Swisher.
As for the bench, it appears that Eric Chavez will retire. Chavez will need to be replaced, along with a few other minor parts. My suggestions for those replacements are....
-Keep Nunez on the active roster, re-sign Andruw Jones, sign Jerry Hairston Jr. or .
Eduardo Nunez should work on his defense during Spring Training, but other than that he does not struggle enough to merit a demotion.
When analyzing the free agent class for utility players, four names jumped out at me. Michael Cuddyer, Andruw Jones, Jerry Hairston Jr., and Ryan Doumit.
Michael Cuddyer can play 1b/3b, rf/lf, but is likely to get a starting job elsewhere. If not, the Yankees should jump on the opportunity to sign him. Ryan Doumit is the same case, but he also plays catcher.
Andruw Jones is known for his ability to hit lefties, while Jerry Hairston Jr. hit righties much better in 2011 than lefties. The two could compliment each other as bench players for the Yankees. Meanwhile, a bunch of minor league invites should be offered, including to...
-Eric Hinske, Russell Branyan, Casey Blake, and Andy LaRoche should all get minor league offers if they do not sign elsewhere.
Hinske would be a fantastic addition as a super-utility player/bat vs. right handed pitchers. I would not be upset with offering him a major league deal, either.
Russell Branyan has always interested me, as his swing is perfect for Yankee Stadium, and he plays multiple positions. Despite that, he does not hit much anymore, so he is not worth a major league deal.
Casey Blake will likely get a major league deal elsewhere, but he reminds me exactly of Eric Chavez. Would be a nice addition.
Andy LaRoche is a young former top prospect that could surprise a lot of people. Worth taking a chance on. Speaking of worth taking a chance on, some pitchers are, too....
-Such as Michael Gonzalez on a one year deal only.
Relievers should only be signed to one year deal. Gonzalez might be a tough sign, but on a one year deal he would be worth it. Lefties hit .213 vs. Gonzalez in his career. Of course, the Yankees do have in house options....
-Kevin Whelan and Kevin Whelan should be given every chance possible to make the MLB club. Rather than signing any free agents, Whelan can replace Luis Ayala, who should be let go. Whelan needs to get a fair chance in the MLB. As for the starters....
-Chris Capuano, Freddy Garcia, Rich Harden, Mitch Talbot, Chien-Ming Wang, and Chris Young should all be offered minor league deals.
I expect one of these pitchers to make the MLB roster as the fifth starter, due to the Yankees losing out to another team in the Yu Darvish bidding. My prediction is that the Toronto Blue Jays sign Yu Darvish, and the Yankees are left without many options, and settle for one of these starters. I actually do not mind that possibility.
Bartolo Colon is deserving of a long relief minor league contract only, but I think another team will give him a starting minor league deal, which he would accept over a relief deal from the Yankees.
Finally, here is my preferred Yankees 2012 roster.
C- Jesus Montero, Russell Martin
1B- Mark Teixeira
2B- Robinson Cano, Jerry Hairston Jr.
3B- Alex Rodriguez
SS- Derek Jeter, Eduardo Nunez
OF- Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, Andruw Jones
SP- CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, Chien Ming Wang/Chris Young/David Phelps/Adam Warren/Hector Noesi competition for spot, OR traded for starting pitcher.
RP- Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, Hector Noesi, Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Rafael Soriano, Cory Wade, Kevin Whelan/Mike Gonzalez if the Yankees can sign him