On a topic that will be the subject of much debate over the next few months, the Yankees look poised to make some substantial moves in the rapidly approaching offseason. In classic if-I-were-GM fashion, the following is a list of moves that The Fowl Balls feels will benefit the club going forward.
Sign CC Sabathia
Regardless of the push for a low-cost youth movement, the Yankees will forever be a team with a payroll in the stratosphere. Over the course of his career, CC has proved to be a durable, innings-eating pitcher that consistently performs at an elite level. On those merits alone he seems to be a good fit for the team, and when added to the fact that he is left handed this makes him a must-have acquisition. The team has a load of payroll coming off the books (roughly $88 million) and have plenty of room to add a superstar pitcher, even if they will be forced to grossly over pay for him.
Trade Robinson Cano
The more one watches Cano play, the more one becomes frustrated. Mark my words; Robinson Cano will win at least one batting title in his career. Unfortunately, he will also have seasons like this one, where is arguably one of the worst full time players in baseball (thanks to Melky Cabrera FINALLY given the Fredo treatment). On talent alone, it seems that Cano could be moved for a young, talented pitcher that is more proven than the young, talented pitchers that the team already owns. Names like Zach Grienke have been thrown around as potential matches in a Cano trade, and only a fool would turn down such a player at this point. After yesterday's game, Robbie's OBP fell below .300. Alfonso Soriano was run out of town after a much more productive season, and I expect the same for Cano.
Offer Bobby Abreu Salary Arbitration
Personally, I hope he declines and the Yankees are awarded compensation as he will be a Type A free agent. However, there are worse things that could happen than Abreu accepting and playing right field for another season.
Sign Orlando Hudson
Obviously, this is contingent on trading Cano, but I can hope. The Yankees would do well to add Hudson, a Gold Glover, to the mix on a defensively inferior club. He is also a speedy, switch-hitting, contact hitter that can handle the bat that the lineup could benefit from.
Don't Sign Mark Teixeira
Great fielder, good hitter, and I am sure he is a hell of a nice guy, but whoever gives him the 8-10 year contract will be pulling their hair out by year 5.
Move Damon or Matsui to First Base, attempt to Trade the Other
I know, I know. I am sure that I will get flack for this based on the infamous Gary Sheffield Experiment from a few years ago, but hear me out. Both players, especially Damon, are superior athletes to Sheffield at the time the Yankees attempted to move him to first. Given an entire offseason and Spring Training to prepare, I feel that either of these players could provide serviceable defense at a higher level than Jason Giambi has provided this season. Also, these players both have some type of value on the trade market; Matsui as a DH, and Damon as an everyday player.
Move Derek Jeter to Left Field
What blasphemy is this you ask? Derek Jeter, though marginally improved this season, is a terrible fielder. If Abreu declines arbitration, which we hope he does, Xavier Nady would then become the everyday right fielder, leaving a void in left when Damon or Matsui is moved to first base. The time has come to think of the team, and not just Jeter's legacy. I found it tough to swallow when the team acquired the best shortstop in baseball history, coming off of his second gold glove, and moved him to third base. Even though Alex Rodriguez would no longer be able to play the shortstop position, there are better options on the free agent market including, but not limited to, Rafael Furcal, and our personal preference, Orlando Cabrera.
Trade for Gerald Laird
Acquiring a younger option at the catcher position can only help. This season proved the perceived risk of signing Jorge Posada to a long term deal was a very real concern. The Yankees could deal from a position of strength by using their glut of young pitching to make this deal (PLEASE take Ian Kennedy!).
Re-sign Mike Mussina, Send Andy Pettitte to Pasture
While Moose has learned to pitch with the garbage that he has left, Andy has looked terrible this year no matter what the Yankees Propaganda Machine feeds us about him being a big game pitcher. Using Mussina as a #4 starter is a solid option on any contending squad.
Stick With Phil Hughes
Hughes is NOT Ian Kennedy, and will, at some point, be a very good Major League pitcher. Hughes was dominant the other night in the AAA playoff, going 8 shutout innings on only 94 pitches. It took Cliff Lee a trip to the minors to figure it out too.
Promote Mark Melancon and Austin Jackson From Day 1
The answer that the Yankees were looking for in their bullpen was right under their nose all season, but they were afraid to rush Melancon after TJ surgery. A career closer in college, Melancon can handle the high leverage innings that the Yankees will need him to. As for Jackson, he is still raw, but could provide a serviceable first season a la Adam Jones in Baltimore. The rest of this lineup should be able to cover for a player like Jackson who, even now, is a much better option than both Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera.
Don't Sign AJ Burnett
He is a guy with phenomenal stuff that cannot stay healthy. We don't need an older version of Joba, thank you very much. Plus he has been bitten by the curse of Alyssa Milano.
Sign Manny Ramirez
In what would have to be the shove-it-up-your-ass move of the century, the Yankees would have to make this move to protect ARod in the lineup. Though he may seem like a pricey option at approx. $15-17 million, the guys flat out produces when happy. Case in point: he is batting .407 since his move to the west coast. With Manny in the DH slot batting third, this lineup once again becomes formidable with the uncertainty surrounding Jorge Posada. Paired with an improved pitching staff, this team could be deadly.
So, without further ado, your 2009 Yankees Opening Day Lineup after the perfect offseason:
P - CC Sabathia
C - Gerald Laird/Jorge Posada
1B - Johnny Damon
2B - Orlando Hudson
3B - Alex Rodriguez
SS - Orlando Cabrera
LF - Derek Jeter
CF - Austin Jackson
RF - Xavier Nady
DH - Manny Ramirez