Call it a (stupid) hunch, but I have a feeling that the Hot Stove is going to pick up this week. Thanksgiving is a week and a half away and I think that agents, executives, and players will want to hammer out some deals before they all retire to their corners of the world for my favorite holiday.
Before that happens, though (if it happens), I think we should run down what I see as the needs and wants of the Yankees for the 2010-2011 Hot Stove Season.
1. A starting pitcher–NEED
2. Two starting pitchers–WANT
3. A LOOGY–Half need, half want
4. A starting outfielder–WANT
5. A bench outfielder–Half need, half want
6. A backup catcher–WANT
Those are the six basic player-types we’ve seen the Yankees linked to this off season, and that’s how I see their degree of importance.
One starting pitcher, be it Cliff Lee or Andy Pettitte, is a must. The Yankees need that one pitcher to have a solid rotation. If they miss out on BOTH those guys, they could be in trouble. There are other pitchers they could sign, but they’re big drop offs. Even the internal options are weak, especially since Joba Chamberlain’s been officially relegated to the bullpen. There is always the trade market, but it’s yet to really develop and we’re not quite sure who’s available (unless Dan Uggla can pitch).
Two starting pitchers, however, is more of a want than a need. If the Yankees sign just one of Lee/Pettitte, they could probably just use Ivan Nova as a fifth starter for a while and wait to see if improvement was needed.
Having two LOOGYs is always nice and if the Yankees can find one at the right price, they should do it. However, they shouldn’t over extend themselves in their search. Another lefty to spell Boone Logan is a bit of a luxury, not a necessity.
A new starting outfielder is definitely in the “want” category, but I’d think that’s a want only for certain fans. I hardly think the Yankees want to bring in one of Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford and any linkage to them is just due diligence or media speculation. With Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, and Nick Swisher, the starting outfield is definitely set, is definitely relatively cheap, and is definitely productive.
In terms of a bench OF, the Yankees don’t necessarily need to go shopping to find one. They could use some combination of Greg Golson, Colin Curtis, and Brandon Laird and re-sign Marcus Thames. Those are “meh” solutions but they’re likely the cheapest and easiest. They’re also the easiest to correct, should something fall apart during the season, a la Randy Winn.
Last but not least, there’s the backup catcher’s spot. None of us like Francisco Cervelli all that much, but that’s only because he ended up playing a lot more than he should have last year. If he had just been the backup and not been forced to start so many games, he would not have looked nearly as awful. Since the Yankees are probably going to deploy Jesus Montero as the starting catcher and use Jorge Posada as the primary DH/back up catcher, it’s less likely that Cervelli will see extended playing time. Because of this projected lesser playing time, and his low cost, the Yankees should just stick with Frankie at the back up catcher’s spot.
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