There is a good segment of Yankee fans that will look back on this offseason rather unfondly once Spring Training starts. This segment will not be entirely incorrect in subscribing to this line of thinking. Missing out on Cliff Lee was huge and the signing of Rafael Soriano is far from great. Though it would, however, be hard to classify the Soriano signing with the Lee non-signing. There are a few “what ifs” that are worth asking.
1. If the Yankees sign Lee, do they sign Soriano? I’d like to say no, but that’s just because I’m not a fan of the Soriano signing. Not signing Lee made (at least a certain segment of) the Yankees’ front office feel that the bullpen needed to be beefed up due to the rather lacing starting rotation. I don’t subscribe to this theory–as you well know–and losing out on Lee hurt the team in two ways. It left the rotation with a hole and it forced the team to divert a larger portion of resources than the team likely anticipated to the bullpen. Silver lining: the Yankee bullpen is fantastic. If/when they get to it, they’ll be in very, very good hands. Other silver lining: Not signing Lee leaves the Yankees with money to add during the middle of the season if a deal can be made.
2. If Jorge Posada wasn’t either signed through 2011 or relegated to catching, could the Yankees have gotten a better DH? That’s a big possibility. There were some great DH candidates out there this Hot Stove season, headlined by Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome, and most of them (especially those two) would’ve been good fits for the middle of the Yankee order. Silver lining: Jorge’s got a great bat and it’s likely to improve without the rigor of catching each and every day. The Yankees are definitely likely to have an above average DH.
What I’m about to write is going to make some people call me a Brian Cashman/Yankee apologist, but I don’t care…
This offseason has not been the nightmare that many are making it out to be. As it’s been said many times, losing out on Cliff Lee sucked. But it did not, and will not, cripple this team. The Soriano signing isn’t great, but it makes the 2011 team at least a little bit better, and the Yankees still have time and resources enough to improve the starting rotation. The Yankees added depth in the bullpen with Soriano and lefty Pedro Feliciano (signing Feliciano definitely accomplishes the ‘sign an LHP’ goal) and added some insurance for Jesus Montero by bringing in veteran Russell Martin. They still need to sign a righty hitting outfielder for the bench, but that appears to be nearing completion . Compared to other offseasons, the Yankees’ splashes have been smaller than usual, but that doesn’t mean they were all bad. The Bombers are still in good shape moving forward and I have every confidence that the team will be improved again in some way by the time Spring Training starts.
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