The Yankees priority this offseason was “pitching, pitching, and pitching” according to their general manager Brian Cashman. But after losing out on their no. 1 target it sounds like Cashman has changed the plan to standing pat.
“I’m not saying I want to do it,” Cashman told Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York, “but I may have to do it.”
Cashman pretty much said that even if Andy Pettitte doesn’t come back this current plan may not change.
“If we get Pettitte back, so much the better,” Cashman said. “But I’m not waiting for him. He told me not to.”
Wow. That’s a pretty drastic shift. From “pitching, pitching, and pitching” while trying to add a pitcher like Cliff Lee at $23 million per season to pretty much no change at all.
Now this doesn’t mean the Yankees aren’t expected to make any moves. They will fill out their roster with some more pitchers, but Cashman told Jack Curry of the YES Network that he’ll mostly try to do it with prospects from within and by signing players like Freddy Garcia and Kevin Millwood.
Whether this is a good idea or not seems to hinge on Pettitte’s return. If Pettitte returns then the Yankees are essentially returning a pitching staff that won 95 games minus Javier Vazquez (who didn’t contribute much at all). On top of that Pettitte himself missed about half a season and A.J. Burnett really can’t have a worse season than he had in 2010.
So if they sign somebody like Garcia and give him a shot it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. If he fails then you have Ivan Nova to fall back on and guys like Andrew Brackman and other prospects after that. If things are really bad by the All-Star break another good pitcher should hit the trade market by then.
The problem is if Pettitte retires. Then the Yankees are not only going into the season with Burnett as their no. 3 starter, but they are going to put two giant question marks behind him. That has 2008 written all over it and fans just will not like it.
The way Cashman and the Yankees probably see it though as similar to the 07-08 winter. That offseason they lost out on a trade for Johan Santana and instead hung on to their prospects in a move that eventually paid off in a World Series victory. This offseason they wanted Lee, but after losing out on him it isn’t necessarily smart to deal a handful of players that could help win a World Series down the line for a single starter.
In other words, the Yankees don’t want to sacrifice long term viability by making a foolish trade right now. The thing is that just like it was in 2008 this is a gamble. One that might not only cause the Yankees to miss the playoffs one year, but doesn’t necessarily mean they will be improved down the road either. The pay off of course is that this will make the Yankees better than ever in the not too distant future.
So what do you think? Are the Yankees crazy for standing pat? Or like our own Brian Burkhart wrote earlier today, is there nothing wrong with sometimes doing nothing?