Let me make this point blatantly clear: no, I do not think the Yankees should sign/should have signed any of the big name free agents out there. Pujols, Reyes, and Fielder are obviously not fits due to the presence (and age) of Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira. C.J. Wilson wasn’t a good idea in my opinion. A five-year-deal for an early 30s pitcher? He has a “J” in his first name? What could possibly go wrong? Then again, Wilson as a starter has provided more WAR in two years than A. J. (yes, I was referring to him) has in the past five years. Excuse me for being at least a little pessimistic here, but as you can see, I have reasons to have feared a Wilson deal. That’s another story though. Buerhle for four years wasn’t the best idea either. So essentially, I am glad the Yankees managed to control themselves and not splurge on a big free agent for the second year in a row (alert the presses and record books, we’re going for a third next year!). No one was worth it/fit on the Yankees in this year’s class.
However, the Yankees DID manage to re-sign two guys. Sabathia was re-signed for 5 years and 122 million dollars and also one-upped Freddy Garcia for another year for 4 million and potential incentives. I’d like to say this about Sabathia: was it a bit of an overpay? Yes, it seems like at least a tad of an overpay. However, in the end, it is well worth it, as the Yankees didn’t have to watch their ace dip his huge
foot into the free agent market for a second time. They got it done early and managed to dodge all the heart palpitations and high blood pressure from having to hear rumors of Boston and Sabathia getting together. So that part, I am proud of the Yankees for doing.
I’m going to mention Garcia again in a moment, but first I must mention potentially the BIGGEST Yankees move of the entire offseason (other than re-signing Sabathia): Winning the bid for Hiroyuki Nakajima!!!!!!!!!!!! Ironically, the Yankees might not even SIGN Nakajima as apparently he might just play out the year and try to play for Bobby Valentine and the Sox next season. I’ll save analyzing Nakajima if/when he gets to the Yankees. If he chooses not to, the biggest move for the Yankees will end up being either cutting Andrew Brackman or drafting more guys in the Rule 5 draft. If the Rule 5 draft is the biggest move for the offseason for the NYY, there’s a problem.
The offseason is still young. I understand that. However, I thought the Yankees would be at least a little more aggressive in trying to get starting pitching. A Trevor Cahill deal recently got done. A Parker substitution in that deal could’ve been one of the Killer B’s (err, one or the other now). If the Yankees are reluctant to bring them up, why not trade for a ready commodity? The Yankees are a win-now team. Waiting that 1 or 2 extra years could be the difference from fizzling in the playoffs to winning number 28 for the Bombers.
If you’re not prepared to trade for a starter, the biggest option you have left is Yu Darvish. The Yankees don’t seem to be all that high on him either from what I’ve read. This might be a clever way to sneak in and get the winning bid, but I’m at least a little bit skeptical. So yes, Yu probably won’t be your yearly Yankee addition (see what I did there? hehehe…). If you’re not going to get Yu, then you have to turn
back to the trade market again if you dislike the likes of Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson. Who’s out there? Shields or Garza? They’re both highly unlikely for the price and the team/executive that has them at the current moment. Gio Gonzalez? The Yankees just don’t know what they’re doing at the moment, as they are choosing not to go through either market.
Why am I catching the anxious Yankees fan syndrome? The simple reason is I fully don’t expect the Yankees to win the AL East next year with the team they had last season, which is essentially the team they have right now with the exception of a few guys. Listen, Boston’s collapse last year was historical. Relying on the same type of thing happening this year is both stupid and unrealistic. Boston is my AL East winner next year barring any major, major setbacks. That leaves the Yankees with the Wild Card spot, which might not even go their way. You have the always feisty Rays with their strong core of young players and the pitching staff of death next year (even if they decide to trade Shields, the rotation is Price-Hellickson-Moore-Davis-Niemann. Yikes.), and the loser of the AL West. Both the Rangers and the Angels are also teams that could leapfrog over the Yankees in a potential Wild Card race this season.
Why am I so pessimistic about the Yankees chances? Quite simply, the Yankees are going to be a year older next year. The pitching staff this year wasn’t as much of a problem as it was before, but I expect it to be this year. Sabathia will be Sabathia, and Nova could capitalize off his great campaign last year. Hughes is still a huge question mark in my mind. I don’t expect Garcia to have as great of a year this year as he did before. Of course, AJ is AJ. To this point, the Yankees have not made a major move for a pitcher. This is why I’m so concerned about their lack of an offseason so far, no matter how early.
Here’s my bottom line: the Yankees in my opinion are not a superior AL East team next year without making an improvement in the pitching staff. What worries me the most is their presence (or lack thereof) of things like Trevor Cahill talks which they could’ve gotten into or their apparently “lukewarm” interest in a potential difference maker like Yu Darvish. So yes, might this be an overreaction to a lack of activity so far? Yup, it probably it. However, it can’t help but worry you if you’re a Yankees fan that the Yankees have been inactive or even patient so far. If they were willing to be aggressive for Sabathia and Garcia early on, why not grab another guy? Yankees fever is hitting me early this year. I just can’t tell if it (or if the team) is good right now.