GM for a day: Yankees
For the purposes of this exercise, I'll assume there's no turning back the clock. Colleague
The Yankees won 89 games last year but finished third in the AL East, missing the playoffs for the first time since 1993. Their offense fell off dramatically, from 5.98 runs per game (best in the majors), to 4.87 per game (seventh-best in the AL).
The pitching staff actually improved slightly, from allowing 4.80 runs per game to 4.49, though both were good for eighth in the AL. They did that despite Pettitte and
The rotation's disarray was in part the result of Cashman's failed gambit to rely upon the Chamberlain/Hughes/Kennedy triumvirate -- none of whom had ever pitched a full major league season -- while bypassing the opportunity to trade at least one of the latter two in a blockbuster deal for
Even if Sabathia comes to the Bronx, his arrival won't solve everything, as the Yankees have several vacancies created by free agency. Abreu and first baseman/DH
My regime is taking a different approach. Behind nominal staff ace Wang, the Yankees still have those three healthy young pitchers, along with more pitching prospects on the way, starting with reliever
As such, here is my plan:
1. Withdraw the offer to Sabathia, which has been on the table since Nov. 14. He's got only one other known bid in hand (five years and $100 million from the Brewers), but three teams from his home state of California, the Angels, Dodgers and Giants, are all thought to be interested. None will outbid the Yankees, but it seems quite likely that while maintaining an impressive public silence on the matter, Sabathia and agent
2. Sign Teixeira. The one thing this near-miss Yankee team needs the most is a 29-year-old switch-hitting first baseman who's not only coming off consecutive seasons of hitting at least .300/.400/.550, but is also an excellent defender. Call upon the one resource that the Yankees have more of than any other team --cash -- and crush the competition. Outbid the Red Sox, who not only have an interest in adding him to their lineup, but also a vested interest in bidding him up simply to force the Yankees to drain their resources. Outbid the Angels, who traded for him last year and are rumored to be preparing an eight-year, $153 million bid, mindful of the fact that he turned down an eight-year, $144 million extension offer from the Rangers prior to being traded to Atlanta in mid-2007. Outbid the Nationals and the Orioles, two teams hoping against hope to get a hometown discount from the Maryland native. Seriously, make it rain. Agent
3. With Teixeira signed, Swisher becomes the primary right fielder. He's a switch hitter who's stronger against righties; much of his trouble last year was against lefties (.197/.359/.386). Luckily, I've got lefty-mashing
4. Center field is still a problem. Cabrera hit only .249/.301/.341, including a pathetic .235/.280/.286 after May 6, and his defense slipped as well. Since his trade value is currently minimal, I'm keeping him as a reserve outfielder; he can sit in the corner and think about what he's done.
To get one, I'm proposing a swap of
To make this happen the Yanks will pick up the difference in salaries, of course. Selling Godzilla's ability to play the field might require the pot to be sweetened by taking an extra couple of million off the Giants' plate or throwing in a live arm, but it's doable. The Giants' home-run leader,
5. Time to deal with the rotation. Assume that Wang and Chamberlain are locks, that Hughes or Kennedy will take the No. 5 spot, that
For one spot, I sign
Lowe is also the majors' most extreme ground-baller this side of
Having signed Lowe, I'll go high-risk/high-reward for the other spot. I'm not touching
6. With Matsui traded and Damon in left, my DH spot is vacant. I'll need to use Posada there once or twice a week to preserve his 37-year-old body and surgically repaired shoulder. Additionally, I've got Cabrera to play an outfield slot and give someone an occasional half-day off, and whomever isn't playing out of Nady and Swisher as another option as well.
Now that Betemit is history, I need some backup infield options as well. Having already locked up two members of the
I'd still need a backup second baseman, and may as well find someone competent at both middle-infield slots.
With my work completed, the Yankees would look something like this:
That's a lot of flexibility in the lineup with so many switch-hitters, but the rotation tilts entirely to the right, which may provide a reason to do something like sign
As for the price tag on this, with the Yankees moving into their new cash cow of a stadium, money is hardly their biggest concern. Even so, this is actually relatively restrained by their standards. Using the worksheet at the excellent