Yankees May Reluctantly Stand Pat with Current Rotation

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?

About Rob Abruzzese

Rob Abruzzese created Bronx Baseball Daily in 2008 just before graduating from Brooklyn College. He currently serves BBD as its editor and works as a reporter at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobAbruzzese.
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9 Responses to Yankees May Reluctantly Stand Pat with Current Rotation

  1. Mindkind says:

    I think standing pat is the right move right now. I think we need Andy Pettite to come back if so the Yankees would then have only one rotation spot to fill. That can be accomplished by having a competition in Spring Training. I say don't sign Garcia unless is for a minor league deal and have Nova/Brackman and other prospects battle for the 5th spot. If the Yankees have a gem in one of their pitching prospects then 2011 is the season to find out. Pitchers like Garcia, Millwood are the past we need to take this opportunity to strengthen the present/future.

  2. Marc Perez says:

    i think millwood would be a decent fallback, but things are not going to end well if they sign Garcia

  3. Joey P. says:

    I have no problem with using the youngsters but the Yankees really need a second lefty in the rotation. The rotation won't be truly successful without at least two left-handed starters. The Yankees should not sit back and wait for Andy … they should go convince him to return whatever it takes. I would ask Derek, Mo and Jorge to call Andy and ask him to come back for one last year. Girardi could help out with this as well. These are the players closest to Andy, and if anyone can convince him to go one more year they are the ones. Cashman and the Steinbrenners must make Andy a substantial offer considering the year he was having pre-injury last year. Treat him with respect, and re-inforce that not just the team, but the organization needs one more year from him, and I think Andy will return. If Andy returns, the Yankees can win the division and get to the series despite the Red Sox acquisitions this off-season. If Andy does not return, the Yankees will likely have to trade for a top of the rotation guy absent a couple of real break-out years by the youngsters. The talent is there, the real question is how ready the talent is.

  4. Wesley says:

    I realize that we are still only in December, but I do feel as though a move needs to be made, or at least contingency plans put in place in case Andy chooses the path of retirement rather than returning for another season. I am a strong advocate that you don't make a move to simply make a move due to "peer pressure". But at the same time, if Andy chooses not to return, I don't feel as though we are in an honest position to really compete at a Championship level, given what we currently have on our roster. While I don't feel as though the situation is in the dire straits doom & gloom category that some Yankee fans do, as we still have a very potent offense & some very talented pitchers on staff, I do feel as though a move does need to be made. Of all the options that I've heard & considered, I really feel as though the Carlos Zambrano roll of the dice would be worth the gamble. Assuming the Cubs would be willing to absorb 1/3 to 1/2 of his salary for the next 2 seasons, it seems to me that Zambrano, at somewhere in the neighborhood of $9-12MM/yr, is a calculated risk that could really pay off. It's not as though the money isn't available. Now whether the Cubs would be will to assume that portion of his salary is another thing. But if so, it probably wouldn't cost them too much in the way of prospects to pull that off, and a healthy & happy Zambrano FAR outweighs (both literally & figuratively) a Kevin Millwood or Freddy Garcia flyer. Because the man can definitely still pitch, as he proved over the last 1/3 of the season after his Freak Out Dugout Session. From everything that I've read, the suspension & subsequent counseling really had a positive impact in helping him to recalibrate & refocus his Life…& his talents. And those talents, if kept apart from any negative emotional instability, would surely be an upgrade to the current situation…if not even potentially turning into an Ace in the hole. No pun intended. A stable Zambrano for 2  yrs & $20MM(ish) seems like an absolute steal to me, not to mention it helps bridge the gap to a MUCH stronger FA class of 2012. And with Larry Rothchild as the new pitching coach, that would only help in creating a comfort zone for the potentially volatile Zambrano. But hey, it's the old adage of Risk vs Reward. And in this case, as in the great & profound words from Dumb & Dumber, "That's a Risk we were willing to Take." Especially if Andy has thrown his last pitch. 

  5. smurfy says:

    Gutcheck time: it's very likely that we won't get far into playoffs (at best) with two of the rotation spots manned by either has-beens or rookies. So, which is better? Development of Nova, Noesi, and maybe Brackman.

    Don't forget about Sergio, though. He may be better than Millwood or Garcia. And if Andy retires, I suggest four inning outings for these young arms, to preserve and develop.

  6. Joe says:

    Stay with the young guys. Look what it did for San Francisco. Also, give Montero every opportunity to be the starting catcher. Again, take a look at Buster Posey. Why do the Yankees "baby" their young players? By the time the Yankees bring them up to the majors, they are 26-27 years old!!!Be patient…Chris Carpenter can be available in July…

  7. Tanned Tom says:

    Let Pettitte retire. He's been great, but a 38 year old pitcher is going to have injury issues every year. As for Garcia or Millwood, please. Might as well see if David Cone wants to come back for one more go, or maybe Jamie Moyer's dad.

    Time has come for that bridge year. That means going with what there is and reducing payroll to under $200 million. So that means the rotation will be Sabathia, Hughes, Burnett (Cashman's folly), Nova and Mitre. I know that sucks, but tough. If anything I would favor trading Burnett if at all possible. As for available pitchers, let's try a few incentive contracts for guys like Webb, could pay off.

    The only way I'd want Zambrano (huge head case) is if they took Burnett in return. Or perhaps if they'd take Kei Igawa and some permanent AAA ball players. In other words, only if we could get him without giving up any value.

    • smurfy says:

      i wouldn't mind a crazy hot experiment with the big Z, but I wouldn't trade Burnett. He's due for a big comeback as good AJ. When he is good, he is very, very good.

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