Larry was quick to point out that signing Lackey is not recognized universally as the right move. The argument against Lackey has two pillars: 1) Brian Cashman didn’t throw the kitchen sink at Minnesota for Johan Santana in 2007, and won, big. The Yanks got CC Sabathia one year later and still have two potential starters developing in Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes; and 2) The 2010 free-agent pitching class is crazy deep, featuring Roy Halladay, Josh Beckett, Cliff Lee, Brandon Webb and Dontrelle Willis. (What, no love for D-Train?)
The Yankees got lucky in 2008. As I already mentioned, CC wanted to come anywhere but New York. ANY-WHERE. It took an extra year and $20 million to convince him. Everything turned out great in the end, but there is no guarantee we can lure one of the marquee free agent pitchers to New York. Expect Boston to keep Beckett and Lee to re-sign with Philadelphia. Brandon Webb had shoulder surgery (never good) and is an NL pitcher. The Yankees could potentially get their hands on Roy Halladay…(sorry, I suddenly began salivating uncontrollably) but he’s old, and will cost a fortune. (D-Train, however, will be available.) The Yankees could easily come away empty-handed.
The Yankees also have lineup issues looming on the horizon. We don’t like to talk about it, but the window is closing on some of these guys. As a result, Cashman is justifiably looking to get younger. The 2011 position players may not be as good both in terms of age but also talent on the field as the team in 2010. (The Yanks could turn around, sign Matt Holliday, and prove me completely wrong, but its dangerous to assume the team will get better.)
That brings me to my main point, which is that it’s stupid to play for the 2011 season when the team is ready to compete and possibly REPEAT in 2010. 2011 is a complete unknown. The best input for making predictions about that season is 2010, which hasn’t even begun on the calendar yet. The best input for making predictions about 2010 is 2009. I forget how that turned out.
Finally, signing Lackey does not preclude signing Halladay or Beckett. Andy Pettitte, god bless him, is 37 years old. He’ll be 38 years old next year, and has been playing the retirement hokey-pokey for a while. As much as we love him, its important to remember that in all probability he’ll represent a starting pitcher, at $12-$13 million, coming off the books in 2010. That alone isn’t enough to get a Roy Halladay or a Josh Beckett, but its most of the way there. We saw in 2008 that the Yankees ARE willing to expand payroll for the right players. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to fantasize about a pitching staff of CC, Halladay, A.J., Lackey and Joba/Hughes.
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