Baseball Magazine

Top Ten Questions as We Move Forward…

By Tfabp
Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee (Tom Cruise): I think I'm entitled to them.
Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee: I want the truth!
Jessep: You can't handle the truth...
“A Few Good Men” written by Aaron Sorkin, spoken by Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson

The Yankees were eliminated from the 2011 postseason sometime around midnight last Thursday evening. In this post I wrote about my feelings on their failure to advance. Now, all the press conferences are over, players have returned home with thoughts of an extended vacation dancing in their heads, reporters have moved on to more important stories such as “Will the Jets totally collapse?” or “Will the NBA play at all this season?”, and Yankee brass have begun to plan for next year. The postmortem is finished for 2011, the Hot Stove has begun for 2012, and I have a bunch of questions that need to be answered sometime before “pitchers and catchers report“ (perhaps the sweetest 4 word combination in the English language). What follows, in no particular order of importance (because they are ALL important,) is a list of questions for next year and a few thoughts of my own for possible answers.
#1 – What happens to CC Sabathia?
He has that pesky opt out clause, the one that ARod pioneered with the Yankees just a few years ago. With 5 years left on his contract, CC will be looking for more years and more money. My opinion is that the Yankees should play hardball on this but will not. Why alienate the Big Guy right? I don’t believe there is any team out there that would do more than match what the Yankees already have in place in the contract 4 years and $92 million ($23 million a year) whereas I think he will want it extended to 7 years and $175 million and no one, NO ONE has that kind of money in MLB to throw around. My guess is some sort of year/salary compromise like 5-6 years at $24 million a year. Then again I thought the Yankees were going to play hardball with ARod but ownership stepped in and gave him more than he wanted and now he will be a Yankee until he begins to collect Social Security while still DHing against left handed pitchers…
#2 – Who will be in the starting rotation next season?
Well with CC and Nova, you have #1 and #2. The question then breaks down to several parts including “What about AJ?”, “What about Phil Hughes?”, “What about Garcia and Colon?”, and “Who will be the new additions?”. Obviously the Yankees owe AJ a lot of money still and overall his season was very disappointing BUT if you are content to view him as a #4 or #5 starter and take some solace in the fact that after working with the PC Wizard, Larry Rothschild, AJ did considerably better in September than in the previous 3 months AND threw a gem in his only post season start in 2011, you have something to hang hope on. Phil Hughes was thought to be a top of the rotation guy but a stop in the bullpen a couple of years ago and an injury plagued 2011 season AND his failure to fully develop another pitch which affected his ability “put batters away” when they have two strikes, does not bode well for the kid. I know my friends JHop and Maqz and my BIL Manhattan Man will gasp when they read this but I say put him in the pen and let him throw 1 inning in pressure situations. As for Garcia and Colon, they seemed to walk a tightrope of success all season long but I think Garcia maintained his balance while Colon wore down and tumbled. I think you have Garcia come back as the #5 starter and hope to catch old man lightening in a bottle one more time.
#3 “Who will be the new additions to the starting staff?”
This breaks out to 3 areas – free agents, major trades, and members of the Yankee Kiddie Korp. The only viable free agents would seem to be CJ Wilson who wants AJ type money and contract and Japanese youngster Yu Darvish (which may be one of the great baseball names of all times). I like Wilson because he is a great left handed contrast to CC and Nova and AJ, but not at AJ money (5 years/$80+ million). With the thin market though, that is what it might take to sign him. As for Yu, the success rate for Japanese pitchers is so high (/sarcasm) he probably will be worth millions like Matsuzaka and Irabu and Igawa were (/even more sarcasm). OK, I’ll give you Nomo but that’s it. Poor history makes this one a gamble, a big gamble. The Yankees do not need another minor league superstar. As for major trades, the one constant seems to be King Felix but Seattle will want everything plus Cashman’s first born child so I don’t think that is happening. The list of Yankee Kiddie Korps includes the Three Killer B’s, (Banuelos, Brackman and Betances) and Hector Noesi. One of them could be the next Ivan Nova and the best bet for this would be Noesi right now, although on potential Banuelos and Betances are way above him, just younger, much younger.
#4 “What happens to the bullpen?”
Here I think the top 3 – Rivera, Robertson and Soriano stay the same. Guys like Wade and Ayala will be there based on their performance in the spring as they both did well out of the pen this year. The Yankees could bring in a bunch of inexpensive journeymen to fill it out. I mentioned in Question #2 that Hughes should be out there too (/gasp) and he would round out the pen nicely. One other bullpen issue (and I hardly dare to mention it) is the impending retirement of Rivera, maybe the best player we have had the privilege to see. It might not be after next year but then again it might so NOW is the time to start to see who will move into that role – Robertson? Soriano? Hughes??? This one will have all of Yankee fandom on the edge of their seats.
#5 “What do we do with a guy named Posada?”
NY has some trouble at times letting go of its legends and at other times helps them pack their bags and give them a ride to the airport. This is one that will once again test the limits of our fandom. Up until the beginning of September I was riding Posada out of town on a rocket sled. No place for him, deteriorating skills, attitude issues. Then something sort of magical happened. He got a clutch hit or seven and rode that and the fans increasing support right into the playoffs and back into the 2012 pitcher. I must admit that while tweeting during games with some friends JHop and Maqz and CollegeBoy all echoed at one time or another his locker room presence and clubhouse kleadership. My BIL even put in it an email to me. So who am I to argue with this notion? Heck, its my blog, my thoughts and my reality so I stand by my conviction. Next year, NO Posada on the roster. However in a nod to the karma of the whole “Core Four” legend I would love to have the Yankees sign him for one more year and during Spring Training, have him announce his retirement. He could be retained as a special advisor, coach, clubhouse guru, whatever. Just give NY a chance to say goodbye and good luck – maybe a “Hip Hip Jorge! Day” at the Stadium in April or May, complete with boat, watch, plaque, lifetime season tickets and a donation to his charity. Winners, one and all.
Next post = five more questions and answers…

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