Yankees Should Hold Off Rebuilding
By Dave Martin On October 26, 2012 @ 2:42 am In Baseball | No Comments
Just a week after being swept out of the postseason the Yankees have an important offseason ahead.
A number of player personnel decisions need to be made and there seems to be a common theme to all of them: age.
After such a disappointing exit should the Yankees blow up their aging-roster and start over?
On paper the Yankees are definitely getting up there. Derek Jeter is 38, Mariano Rivera is 42, Alex Rodriguez is 37, Andy Pettitte is 40 and even recent acquisitions like 37-year-old Hiroki Kuroda, 39-year-old Ichiro, and playoff hero Raul Ibanez who blew out 40 candles in June, have seen better days. How long can they keep producing?
In the case of Rodriguez it’s looks like he may have stopped producing altogether about a month ago. In case anyone missed it, the Yankees’ highest-paid player went 3-for-25 in the postseason with 12 strikeouts—awful numbers for anyone and especially bad for your number-three hitter. Naturally, A-Rod was not alone in the bad-playoff-hitting category which is why the Yankees were summarily dumped.
After such an embarrassing ending, it would seem it’s time to do what the Red Sox did and dump however much salary you can and start the rebuilding process.
Certainly if Brian Cashman found a taker for the full $114 million left on Rodriguez’s contract he would, and should, jump on the offer. But the team isn’t as broken as their lifeless exit suggested and neither is A-Rod.
Lest anyone forget, the Yankees finished up their impressive 95-win season earlier this month—taking the division for the third time in four years. Meanwhile, A-Rod hit .272 with 18 home runs in just 122 games—which pro-rates to a respectable 24 home runs over a 162-game season had he been injury-free.
Staying healthy admittedly has been an issue the last few years for the Yankees’ slugger who hasn’t made it past the 140-game mark since his MVP season of 2007. But trading him now would be selling at the lowest point of his career. Imagine if the Yankees had done that with Jeter—who led the league in hits this past year.
Just two offseasons ago the Yankees, almost reluctantly, gave their captain a three-year $51 million deal after the 36-year-old hit a career-worst .270. It’s been money well spent.
Beyond keeping A-Rod, resigning Ichiro should be at the top of Cashman’s list. The always-poised speedster hit .322 after coming over from the listless Mariners and was one of the few Yankees who hit well in October. Ditto for Ibanez who more than earned his keep with two swings against Baltimore.
While the Yankees wait on 2013 decisions from the seemingly ageless Pettitte and Rivera, they’ll have to make important ones themselves in the outfield. If they have Ichiro in the fold for 2013 do they need to meet Swisher’s long-term demands? And what to do with Granderson’s $15 million team option?
If the Yankees re-sign Ichiro and Ibanez and hold onto Brett Gardner they’d really only need one more full-time outfielder. Though the likeable Swisher has good power and a good eye, his defense isn’t winning him any awards. Granderson has good defense and great power (84 home runs in two seasons) though his average (.236) and strikeouts (195) aren’t ideal. Yet, the younger, faster Gardner looks like he could be the regular center fielder.
There may be a better option than keeping Swisher or Granderson though, should the Yankees open their endless checkbook again.
Superstar Josh Hamilton is set to hit the market and the Yankees should splurge (again) and get the left-handed slugger with the tailor-made swing for Yankee Stadium’s short right-field porch.
The acquisition of the former MVP Hamilton would complete their outfield and put a major hitter in the middle of the lineup to protect Cano even more.
This would give the Yankees a major building block beyond their remaining “core four” members of Jeter, Pettitte, and Rivera. Besides the Yankees don’t rebuild—they reload.
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