2007 New York Yankees
Yankee fans have been emailing me for a 2007 Team Outlook. There's not a lot for me to figure out here because the Yanks don't have many openings. But here we go.
Brian Cashman's contract obligations:
C - Jorge Posada - $12MM
1B - Gary Sheffield - $8MM ($5MM deferred)
2B - Robinson Cano - $0.381MM
SS - Derek Jeter - $20MM
3B - Alex Rodriguez - $16MM
IF - Andy Phillips - $0.38MM
LF - Hideki Matsui - $13MM
CF - Johnny Damon - $13MM
RF - Bobby Abreu - $15MM
OF - Melky Cabrera - $0.38MM
DH - Jason Giambi - $21MM
SP - Randy Johnson - $14.5MM
SP - Chien-Ming Wang - $0.38MM
SP - Jaret Wright - $7MM (player option)
SP - Philip Hughes - $0.38MM
SP - Carl Pavano - $10MM
RP - Mariano Rivera - $10.5MM
RP - Kyle Farnsworth - $5.25MM
RP - Mike Myers - $1.25MM
RP - Scott Proctor - $0.38MM
RP - Brian Bruney - $0.38MM
SP - Mike Mussina - $1.5MM
Payroll stands at roughly $176MM. The Yankees entered '06 at $194MM.
2007 could be Posada's last season as a Yankee. Or not. He had a resurgence at age 34, hitting .278/.375/.494 and playing 142 games. If Cashman were to let Posada walk perhaps Michael Barrett would be signed. Anyway, the Yanks will need to find a backup this winter, maybe someone like Todd Pratt or Henry Blanco.
We all know Sheff doesn't want to play first base in 2007 unless he gets a three-year extension. Will this play out like Alfonso Soriano's position change last year? Any threat to retire may ring hollow as Sheffield needs just 45 HRs for 500. The trade market for Sheffield seems strong despite his whining, as possible .900 OPS outfielders on one-year deals don't grow on trees. The Cubs should offer Bob Howry and/or Scott Eyre and a decent prospect and try to get something done. If they do trade Sheffield, the Yankees can try some patchwork solutions at first base, as their offense can stand it.
We've also got a possible situation with A-Rod. Scott Boras is adamant that Rodriguez will not be traded, and of course the player has veto power here. Given Boras's profession and reputation, everyone is taking that assertion with a grain of salt. If Rodriguez is dealt, I really don't see him moving back to shortstop. The White Sox seem like the best fit, as they can offer Joe Crede and a starter. That starter won't be an ex-Yankee, which leaves only Mark Buehrle or Freddy Garcia.
Miguel Cairo or someone similar will be signed to back up Jeter and Cano.
The Yanks have an outfield surplus, with promising 22 year-old Melky Cabrera serving as the fourth. He had a strong rookie showing in '06; it's a shame he won't be playing full-time in '07. Cashman could use Cabrera to acquire a starter, but why not just hang onto him for right field in '08? The retention of Hughes this summer may indicate a willingness to break in some young guys.
It seems likely that Mussina will work something out with Cashman after his option is bought out. That'll leave the rotation with three or four solid options, but perhaps not a shut-down ace. If Cashman's scouts think Daisuke Matsuzaka is that ace, I can't see how he lands anywhere else. Yes, they were burned by Hideki Irabu - but these are two completely different pitchers.
20 year-old Philip Hughes posted sick numbers in Double A and will probably be up before June. He may be the best pitching prospect in the game - this time, the New York hype is justified.
Someone's going to have to replace Ron Villone's 80 innings in the bullpen. Could be Darren Oliver or even another go-round with Mike Stanton. I'm pretty sure one overpaid veteran reliever will be imported.
Plenty of offseason drama as usual with the Yankees. Best guess is that Sheffield goes and A-Rod stays. Sheff is used to acquire a good reliever. Mussina comes back and the Yankees win the Matsuzaka derby. With Matsuzaka and Hughes fronting the rotation this summer, the Yankees could be World Series favorites.