To label the New York Yankees 2008 season as a disappointment might be an understatement. This is the team that year after year has been a staple in the playoffs, and that in a not-too-distant past (though it fades ever so slowly from memory) were the very definition of a dynasty.
Reverting to their winning ways will not be an easy task; GM Brian Cashman has to deal with an aging staff, and has to plug holes in the outfield, first base, and rotation.
On the surface, the most important need for the Yankees this offseason is to bolster their lineup. During the last four seasons, the Yankees either lead or were second in home runs in the American League, relegating to fourth place in 2008; and even though they were third in team OBP, they were seventh in both runs scored and RBI. In 2007, the Yankees led all three of those offensive categories.
Rumors have been flying around the possibility of signing Mark Teixeira, which would add a potent bat to the lineup and replace a departing Jason Giambi, but the the price tag for Tex will prove to be pricey (not that the Yankees couldn’t afford it). Worth noting is Hideki Matsui’s knees, both of which have now been surgically repaired, possibly limiting his defensive abilities in the outfield.
So yeah, offense is a big one, on the other hand, beefing the rotation also looms as a critical issue to be addressed if the Yanks are to return to the post season. Team officials have confirmed that they’ll pursue C.C. Sabathia, who’ll definitely command Johan Santana money (again, not that the Yankees couldn’t afford him), but other questions regarding their rotation circle around the future of veterans Andy Pettitte and Mike Mussina.
Pettitte has already filed for free-agency, and it’s unclear whether he’ll sign elsewhere, opt to retire, or stay in New York. Pettitte himself has told the press that he’d like to pitch in fancy new Yankee stadium, and he may get a one-year deal worth around $11 million. Mussina is mulling retirement (even though he was, by far, the Yanks best pitcher in ’08, winning 20 games for the first time in his career), and Cashman said during the GM meetings that the 40-year-old is an option they’re considering.
According to Cashman, only Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain have guaranteed spots in the rotation, and considering pitching is one of the Yankee needs this offseason, it makes sense to bring back both pitchers – especially after disappointing seasons from Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy.
The Yankees are never a team to stay pat in regards to the hot stove, so don’t be surprised if a they land a couple of big fish via trade or free agency.
Update #2: You want your update? I got yer update righteer.
Update/note: This post was ready to go in the morning, and was scheduled for today, but in light of the news that the Yankees have acquired Nick Swisher from the Chicago White Sox (oh Kenny Williams, how do you do it?) we’ll post an update soon.