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Thursday, October 3, 2013

QUESTION MARKS GALORE IN YANKEELAND

It's the 2nd time the Yankees are missing the playoffs in 15 years, and the first since 2008. I am like you, I want to see our team make it to the post-season every year. It comes with being a Yankee fan. 

There is a high bar of expectation set going into every season. It's championship or bust on our dollar. But, you know something? There are 29 other teams playing to get in and they love nothing more than seeing us take a backseat and let the others get a shot at the Fall Classic. I don't need to back track too much as to why our Yankees didn't make it this season. Injuries were the main issue, but there other reasons that factored into making this a tough season for this team. How about management for instance?  But look, let's break it down.... there are so many questions as to what moves the team will need to address in the immediate future. Are we going to see an off-season similar to last year? We'll have to wait and see. 

Look, if I'm Brian Cashman which obviously I'm not, this is what I would do to at least try and fix this team:

  • The Manager: I would do whatever it takes to keep Joe Girardi in New York. I am certain that with Chicago firing Dale Sveum, the Cubs are certainly entertaining the idea of pursuing Joe hard. I am also sure that there is a possible temptation in his mind of going home. Theo Epstein is looking to make moves to become a contender in the NL Central. Now, say what you will about Joe Girardi... he is the right guy for the job here in in the Bronx.  The players like to play for him, and even though he is famous for his "binder", Joe did a hell of a job working with what he was given this year... it was no easy task juggling all he did. I would love to see him back, but again time will. 

  • Bench Coaches: Kevin Long is no doubt on the hot seat. Once again, the issue of Runners in Scoring Position took a bite in our ass this season.  Guys like Vernon Wells started out hot, but his a serious hitting drought. He wasn't the only one. Sometimes the team as a whole couldn't knock in runs. I mean, it's the hitting coach's responsibility to find the flaws on hitters and fix them. Kevin Long was in the final year of his contract. There could be a chance he returns next year as the hitting coach once again. But if it were my sole decision, I would explore other options...fast!  It's time to get someone who not only can work with the hitters and help them find their form, but it's time to bring someone in with a different approach. That's quite obvious. Kevin Long just ain't working anymore and the results are proven at the plate. One key name that sticks out in this department is Dante Bichette Sr.  His son, Dante Jr. is in the Yankees farm system. Dante was a mean bat in his playing days. Since the Yankees are built on power hitters, bring in a former power hitter who can easily relate with them. Add in the short wall dimensions at Yankees Stadium and who knows...  It might just work!  Hey, if I'm Yankee brass, I have nothing to lose, we "see if it sticks." 
  • Pitching Coach: Larry Rothschild is 50/50 when you think about what happened with some of our starters this season. Look at Phil Hughes and CC Sabathia for instance. CC, our "Ace", did not pitch remotely close to that caliber this year. He was hittable. We didn't see CC the aggressor at the mound like years past. Then there's Hughes...Well, I don't need to really clarify what happened with Hughes, do I?  I'm not sure we can.  With pitching coaches, it's tough to point the finger at them for shoulder fatigue and tired arms. But we can hold him accountable for a pitcher not finding his command.  That is what Rothschild is required to do, help them find their command. With him, I say bring Larry back!  I'll take my chances with Rothschild again in 2014. I don't pin Kuroda's late season slip on him. Kuroda was just worn out. After all, the guy's 39 and pitched a lot innings throughout the season. It was bound to happen. Also, don't forget Ivan Nova got back to form. He was in need of serious correction, and he turned out OK.  
  • Robinson Cano: I'm pointing this out because it pretty much tops the list of the off season's "To dos." To make anything happen, Robbie has to lower his asking price. Not with just New York, but with pretty much all the other teams. The bigger markets (Los Angeles Angels and the  Los Angeles Dodgers mainly), are already maxed financially to large contracts. Texas would be a likely bidder in the Cano sweepstakes, but rest assured, they will not give him $300 million. Remember, the Rangers already learned their lesson of what a large contract can do to a team. Much like the Yankees are learning with the ARod contract, ARod was a mistake the Rangers made a while back.  They will not repeat that mistake again.  Boston already locked in Dustin Pedroia, so they are out of the running. I will put this boldly; Robinson Cano and the Yankees NEED each other. I see a 7 year deal at about $150 million... and that's stretching it. 
  • Catcher: This is a tough one. We need outside help if we want to make a run of any kind next year. Chris Stewart just doesn't cut it and Austin Romine needs to really work on his batting if he is to make any statement come Spring Training next year. Francisco Cervelli will have served his suspension, but we still have yet to see if he can stay healthy. 
  • Pitchers:  It's definite that CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova are 2 spots already filled for the starting 5 in Yankeeland. Hiroki Kuroda is a free-agent, and had a 2nd half slide that may hurt his chances of coming back and with Andy now retired and Phil Hughes not likely to return...there's alot of question marks.  My guess... the team will explore the market for one starter and look to give David Phelps and the others a chance to win a spot in the rotation. We could see a carousel of pitchers for a while here. There are too many holes and we have to wait and see what we have in March with this one. 
  • Relievers: We know that David Robertson is probably next year's closer..at least that's what I think. Mariano Rivera is gone and DRob will get the ball in the 9th. We could see Boone Logan come back as the lefty specialist again. Without Boone, there are no lefties in the pen... none. Other than that, you could see a very similar bullpen much like what you saw this year. 
  • Infield: Derek Jeter should be back at short barring any setbacks from now and throughout Spring Training, right up to Opening Day. BUT... if he doesn't pan, look for either Jayson Nix or Eduardo Nunez to be the replacement. We know this could be his Jeter's final year, so my guess would be some limited fielding and some time in the DH spot. We still don't know what will be of the ARod appeal, but this is why you have to keep Nix and Nunez. They are both versatile on the left side of the infield.  Mark Texiera should be ready for the 2014 season, so we will have our first baseman back, and again, Robinson Cano is up in the air until either a deal is reached, or somehow someone showered him with money bags elsewhere. 
  • Outfield: I think Zoilo Almonte will be an option to play either Center or Left. We could likely see a platoon between Alfonso Soriano and Vernon Wells and rest consisting of Brett Gardner, Almonte, and Ichiro. Once again, we have depth in the outfield department. As much as I hate to admit it, we may have seen the last of Curtis Granderson in the Bronx. My opinion of course. Look, I'm really hoping whatever the plans are, Hank, Hal, and Brian have what it takes to restore order in Yankeeland. We cannot go back to 2013!  We need to rebuild and we need to revamp the farm teams. 
It's a long road until we get back on track! Things like this don't get fixed overnight. Until then, enjoy the off-season. Oh yeah... and it's about 136 days until pitchers and catchers report.

Go Yanks!



-- Rudy Laurens, BYB Writer
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