Monday, December 3, 2012

Help Wanted: New York Yankees Catcher, Right Fielder, Bench, Oh and Now Third Base

The New York Yankees have a lot of questions that need to be answered this offseason.  They came into the offseason knowing they need to lock up their pitchers and right field.  They knew Soriano was going to opt out.  They also knew they needed to retool their bench and find a DH option at the same time.  What they weren't expecting was the need for a third baseman and a catcher.  Russell Martin went and signed a two year deal with the Pirates while the Yankees were busy dealing with pitching.  It is said that Ichiro's agent is on the verge to search the market as well.  It is a great sign that the Yankees locked up Hiroki Kiroda, Andy Pettitte and Mo Rivera, but it is go time to get this lineup beefed up.

If the Yankees came into the season today they would be trotting out Jason Nix and Eduardo Nunez on the left side of the infield.  That is a recipe for destruction for this Yankee team.  With Derek Jeter questionable to start the season and Alex Rodriguez missing up to six months, this front office needs to make some moves.  I am not saying you need to sign every big free agent like it is going out of style, however.  The Yankees have been smart about their moves the past couple of years and need to continue to do so.  No need to overspend for a Josh Hamilton or a Nick Swisher, you know there will be too much bang for that buck. 

First order of business is you have to take care of Ichiro.  While with the Yankees, Suzuki hit .322 and stole 14 bases in just over two months with the team.  He was also great in the postseason, something the Yankees desperately needed.  People may claim that having Ichiro and Brett Gardner patrolling your outfield may rob some power from your lineup, but when your second baseman (a normally soft hitting position) hits thirty homeruns every year you can afford to go for average and speed in the outfield.  It is never holding you back when you have a guy at the top of your order who will close in on a .350 OBP in front of your Cano's, Granderson's and Teixeira's.  If they lose out on Ichiro then this lineup will look quite bleak for 2013.  If for some reason the Yankees do drop the ball they need a guy with somewhat comparable stats.  They could look at either Shane Victorino or Ryan Ludwick.  All three of those would probably cost the Yankees more than Ichiro and could put up worse stats, or worse get hurt. 

There are few options that the Yankees have on the free agent market in terms of third base.  There best possible would be to resign Eric Chavez and to bring in maybe a Marco Scutaro (a guy who showed he can shine in the playoffs) or a Jeff Keppinger.  Either option isn't a big enough name to have the media talking replacement.  Saying that, they still would provide enough offense to keep the seat warm while Rodriguez rehabs and can even man the deck if Joe Girardi decides to make ARod a full time DH.  If the Yankees want to really shock the world and put a little extra zing in their Red Sox rivalry then they would go after Kevin Youkilis.  The more I think about it, the more it sounds like a great idea.  Youkilis is still a quality player.  He gets timely hits and got hot as soon as he was traded to the White Sox.  He has something to prove to Boston and would most likely love playing them up to sixteen times a year.  Can we just do that signing now?

The catcher position is something of a short time fix.  They have Francisco Cervelli on the roster who has started games for them before.  They also have Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez waiting in the wings, although they aren't ready for the big league level just yet.  They need a one or two year guy to be a stop gap and provide some offense from the catcher position.  Mike Napoli would have been a fit, but he just signed with the Red Sox.  The only other halfway decent option is AJ Pierzynski.  I think if you can get him to sign a two year contract then that is what is best for this team.  The only issue is that since the catcher market is so thin, Pierzynski could demand big money for those two years.  If he does then Yankee management will bow out and let teams like the Dodgers and White Sox duke it out.  This would be a mistake.  You cannot go into the season this thin at catcher and expect to compete in a stacked to the brim AL East, let alone the entire American League.

The Yankees need clutch offense and they need it fast.  Baseball winter meetings are coming up soon and that is when many free agents get taken off the market.  They need to steer clear from the risks and spend a little extra to pry away the sure things.  They don't need a 100 million dollar player this offseason, they just need to spend extra to bring in the guys you know will perform.  If you're a Yankee fan would you take a midseason lineup of Jeter, Ichiro, Cano, Granderson, Teixeira, Rodriguez, Youkilis, Pierzynski, and Gardner?  If our starters can stay healthy (a tall task) then we may be the team to beat.  The AL is stacked, so we need to keep up with it.

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