Saturday, May 24, 2008

The New York Yankees

The Yankees are poised to have a significant turnover in their roster from this year to next. They have 7 big contracts that could be coming off the books after this October. The players include:

Jason Giambi - $5 million buy-out or $22 million club option. So if they do the buy-out they still save $16 million over 2008 costs. Buh-bye.
Bobby Abreu - $16 million. I don't think he'll be back but I could be wrong.
Andy Pettitte - $16 million. Very well could be back as insurance against the youngsters continuing to stumble. If the Yankees fail to land a top free agent starter - then he'll definitely be back if he wants to pitch.
Mike Mussina - $11 million. Buh-bye.
Carl Pavano - $1.95 million buy-out or $13 million option. So if they do the buy-out they save roughly $9 million over 2008 costs. Buh-bye.
Kyle Farnsworth - $5.5 million. Baseball's answer to the hockey goon.
LaTroy Hawkins - $3.75 million. God awful. Buh-bye.

Combined those 7 players equate to $71.75 million (after buy-outs) that could be coming off the books after this season. If those players were let go then that would open holes in RF, 1st, a couple of starter positions and a couple of bullpen positions. What free agents would be available to fill those slots?

The big target would be Mark Teixeira and I'm guessing Scott Boras will squeeze Hank Steinbrenner for a Jason Giambi type deal. If they fail to land Teixeira then they may have to go with a young player or convert Matsui or Posada to a 1st baseman.

The other big target (pun intended) will be starter CC Sabathia. Look for Steinbrenner to throw Johan Santana money at CC (and if Sabathia's appetite for money is anything like his appetite for food then Cleveland can probably waive bye-bye to CC). Best case scenario for the Yankees is a rotation of Sabathia, Wang, Chamberlain, Hughes and Kennedy.

So the Yankees could possibly spend $44 million or so on Teixeira and Sabathia and still have about $27 million available to fill in the rest of the holes with marginal free agents and young players from the farm system. If the Yankees fail to land at least one of these two targets then they could be in a world of hurt next year.

Two things to note and neither item should be overlooked:

First - with that many aging veterans in their "walk" years the Yankees will probably be faced both with injuries and with an elevated level of selfishness in the clubhouse for the rest of the season. The selfishness is only natural when you think of how pampered and self-centered most millionaire athletes are in the first place. There could be lots of sniping in the clubhouse and the problem could spiral out of control with no Joe Torre father-figure around to keep it in check. Don't discount this factor in what looks to be a 3rd place finish for the Yankees in the AL East this year.

Second - the Yankees biggest rivals - the Red Sox - have no such issues. The Sox will just have to deal with a new contract for Jason Varitek and Varitek has made it clear he wants to stay in Boston.

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